In His Sights: A True Story of Love and Obsession

In His Sights: A True Story of Love and Obsession

4.0 18
by Kate Brennan, None

What if the man you'd loved for years vows, when you leave him, to destroy you? What if he transforms into a ruthless tormentor, stealing your freedom, undermining your sanity, and threatening your safety?

This is not a fictional scenario. It is Kate Brennan's life.

Kate is a well-respected writer and scholar, a highly independent woman with simple tastes and a


What if the man you'd loved for years vows, when you leave him, to destroy you? What if he transforms into a ruthless tormentor, stealing your freedom, undermining your sanity, and threatening your safety?

This is not a fictional scenario. It is Kate Brennan's life.

Kate is a well-respected writer and scholar, a highly independent woman with simple tastes and a complicated romantic past that leave her perfectly content with singlehood. So when she meets Paul—a wealthy, charismatic businessman with a great deal of free time—she's wary of getting involved. Eventually, though, his polished charm and relentless wooing win her over. Things move quickly, and it is only after the two have moved in together that Kate discovers the serial infidelity, the unbalanced psyche, and the sordid secrets lurking under the Mr. Right facade.

Kate lets Paul into her life with trepidation, and when she ends the relationship, she finds she can't get him out of it. With limitless resources, he dedicates himself to stalking her: he tracks her movements, arranges for people to break into her home, interferes with her work, and even relocates to her new neighborhood. His harassment lasts for more than a decade and, as Paul is still at large, it continues to turn Kate's life upside down today.

This visceral memoir not only lays bare the mind of a stalker, but also shows how a smart, successful woman can fall prey to a warped and powerful man who has the money and connections to keep her under his watchful eye. Both frightening and insightful, In His Sights is a gripping tale of one woman's descent into the dark side of love and how she has fought—and still struggles—to free herself.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
“A remarkable and very powerful story . . . [Brennan] conveys her own fear and mounting sense of physical discomfort so well that we feel it, too.”
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"I'll see you again." This casual phrase, appearing early in this tale of a woman tracked by a stalker, set the stage for the unnerving events to come. Narrator Kate has just met Paul, the handsome, wealthy relative of a neighbor. Kate, an emotionally wounded daughter of an alcoholic family, is skittish about a relationship; nonetheless, she finds herself falling in love with Paul and ensnared in a grotesque scenario that continues years after their relationship ends.

Beneath his charming surface, Paul is a cipher, refusing to discuss his past at any length. However, it isn't long before Kate discovers his perverse sex life. Although he claims to love her, he lies and bullies her. As her own outrage escalates, Kate is still drawn to help Paul, to make the relationship work, until she realizes: "We make our monsters even more dangerous each time we give them a pass."

Gathering her courage, she breaks away, but Paul hounds her until a noose has been drawn around her life. A cry of pain and defiance, Kate's heartrending story reads like a thriller, revealing her as a victimized woman but one who refuses to be silenced. For Kate (writing under a pseudonym for her safety), the act of telling her story is to draw a line in the sand, showing her tormentor that though he can make her suffer, her spirit will not be crushed. (Fall 2008 Selection)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.54(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt

You seldom choose the circumstances that offer meaning to your life. Given a list of options, stalking isn't one I'd ever pick. But once that was my reality, I saw two basic choices-walk straight through or shy away. My nature is to walk straight through the hard things-grief, sorrow, fear, doubt, anger, whatever presents itself. I've always believed in the power of the other side of pain, so I don't allow myself to run from it.

Facing your demons, taking responsibility for your choices, learning from your mistakes: that's the kind of person I respect and aspire to be. So being stalked by an ex-lover requires me to examine how I managed to love such a man. My stalker may have picked me, but I picked him, too. I picked him, I lived with him, and when I left him, I intended to forget him-except in the vaguest way, the way you remember a movie that didn't live up to the hype.

I thought it would be a simple matter of walking away and taking stock: tuck back into myself, consider why I chose him, face my frailties and failings, and then, and only then, step into the future-wiser and more whole than the day I met him. That had always worked for me in the past.

Turns out, this time would be different. You can do all the psychic and physical separation you want, but there's no getting away from someone who wants to remind you he can mess with your life anytime he wants. Paul isn't a man who tolerates being left. His desire to control me didn't vanish just because I tried to. In fact, the stalking has lasted far longer than our life together. So every choice I make, every moment of turning, is filtered through one simple fact: my stalker is still alive. Which is why you won't know my real name. But you will know my psyche, for I intend to offer it bare as a licked bone.

Being stalked thrusts you into the muck of someone else's life, which is how I felt when I was with him, so it was a surprise that I wasn't, after all, free of him when I walked out his door. How could I know that leaving this man would give new meaning to the concept of afterlife? No matter what else happens, my life will always be divided into three parts: before him, with him, after him. Not my preferred life markers. But there it is. It's what I got when I walked away.

I had forty-one years before him, nearly three years with him, and it's been more than thirteen years since I left him. It took me more than two years to see that leaving him was not the same as getting away from him, and that his harassment was, in fact, stalking.

Over the years, therapists have assured me that they, professionals who are paid to figure people out, were fooled, just as I was, by this man's charms. I'm only somewhat consoled by such assurances, because they don't erase the inevitable questions: How could I have loved someone so capable of residual hate? How did I allow myself to get sucked into his perversion? How did I manage to get away? How do I stay safe now? And most important of all: How do I keep sane, not ever knowing if the stalking is over?

The answers are complicated, but the truth is simple: it all flows from the currents of my past.

It took living with the man who became my stalker to realize that life with my family had left me with such a high tolerance for cruelty I couldn't recognize perversion when I saw it. And when I did start to see it, I was so accustomed to thinking that sick people get well and that I could survive anything, I didn't know when to quit hoping. I didn't know when to quit being strong and patient and kind.

Some women are raised to believe men can become their best selves if they're not left to their own limitations. We're bred to believe in the power of redemption. It took time-too much time-for me to realize that picking someone who needs you, who's less whole than you are, is the easiest way to keep from seeing yourself clearly. It offers ready distraction from your own damage.

I thought that avoiding active alcoholics and working on my own frailties would be my salvation. I also thought if I understood enough about the man I loved and was a steady force of love for him, it would all come right in the end.

Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.

I startle awake. A gunshot? I hold my breath and strain to identify the noise in the ensuing silence. Nothing. Was it a car backfiring on the highway? A hunter downing a deer on the island? Maybe one or the other. Maybe something more ominous. I'm never sure which way to turn, toward the ordinary or the terrifying.

I lie still and focus on my surroundings, work my legs toward the edge of the bed and ease into position. I've taken to wearing sweats and a long-sleeve T-shirt to bed instead of pajamas in case I have to leave suddenly. Running or taken, either way, it makes me feel a little less vulnerable. I edge my arm from beneath the cool sheet, slide the cell phone from under the spare pillow. I practice the drill just in case: my fingers slide over the keys: 9-1-1. 9-1-1. I remind myself to breathe-slowly, silently. I remain as still as possible.

I lay my head back against the pillow to keep my neck from locking and play back the moments before going to bed. I see myself checking all the doors, the windows, the security system. Once. At least twice. Perhaps, like many nights, more than that. I visualize the routes I'll take if someone comes through the front door, through the back door, through a window. I wait for another sound that will tell me which way to run.

I picture a face I've never seen before, the stranger he will have sent. I imagine the place I'll be taken. Dirty, dark, remote, somewhere as foreign to me as my assailant. I remember to breathe. I strain for the next sound, hoping it will not come. But also wondering if it would be a relief from this endless vigilance.

I wait for the pink of morning to bleed into the night sky. Although I don't believe the dawn cares for humans one way or the other, only at first light will I relax enough to fall back to sleep.

I feel safest in the light, but I am drawn to the cloak of invisibility darkness offers.

Going to bed, for a walk, to a movie-such ordinary things. Unless you're being stalked. Then everything feels risky.

As I do in every public place, when I walk into a movie theater, I enter slowly, scanning the seats. Is he here? Is someone he knows here? Before I settle into the room, any room, I check my gut. Do I feel safe?

My favorite spot in movie theaters used to be two-thirds back, on the right. Not too close to the screen, not too far away. Now I sit in the back row, so I can keep an eye on the room. And before I give myself over to the story on the screen, I make sure I know where the exit door is. If there's only one door, I usually leave, and wait for the DVD.

When I do stay, I move in and out of the film to check for late arrivals, and minutes before the end, as the movie closes in on itself, I make my final descent from the screen story to my own. I plan my exit. How to be seen by the least number of people? How to get out the fastest? That's the goal.

I pull my hat down over my eyes and focus on the exit door tucked behind the screen. In warm months, I feel more exposed. Midwesterners aren't crazy about eccentrics. They're most comfortable with conformity. And a woman wearing a hat in a movie theater when it's above zero doesn't fit their definition of normal. People tend to stare. So, like a child who believes she's invisible when she covers her own eyes, I put on my large sunglasses and tell myself no one will recognize me.

As the credits begin to roll, I head for the front corner of the room. In seconds, everyone else will be moving in the opposite direction. The casual eye could assume I have something to hide. And actually, I do: myself. If I hadn't learned how to hide, I wouldn't have lasted this long.

I'm good at figuring things out. I'm good at figuring people out. And I'm good at trusting my gut. Years of being stalked have made me an expert at following my instincts, which isn't easy, given that a stalker's goal is to suck you into his vortex; when your world spins out of control, it's easy to lose your balance. A constant state of readiness is the only way I know to right myself, again and again and again.

But it wears me out, and the possibility of despair is never more than an arm's length away. That's on good days. On bad days, despair sits on my shoulder waiting for the slightest sign of weakness so it can wrap me in its embrace.

Memories are closer still. They crawl around inside me, hookworms pleased at so much strength to sap.

Meet the Author

Kate Brennan (an alias) is a freelance writer who focuses on women's issues. She has taught English and women's studies at several colleges. Her stalker remains at large.

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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
BoredNV More than 1 year ago
My friends and I are in a book club and we chose this book as our read. We chose it because of all of the great reviews we read about the book. Once we started reading the book it was very boring. Half of the girls didn't even finish it. We were expecting it to be packed with action but we were wrong.
Amy2kids More than 1 year ago
This is a really interesting story for someone who likes to read true crime books. She really gives us many details that are scary but true. Its unfortunate that these things happen in relationships, and she gives us a very good insight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to believe that this can happen espcially to a smart and savy women but it did and it is indeed scary. Kate is lucky she has been able to keep her wits about her and not let this man drive her crazy
lilytre More than 1 year ago
I truly could not put this book down. It was a really easy read and very intriguing..... I found myself drawn into her world like I was sitting right next to her the whole time. At many points you wanted to reach into the book and throttle the abuser... You thank your lucky stars that you so not have to go through the hells this young lady goes through, and wonder if you are or could be the next victim.
L.A.Carlson-writer More than 1 year ago
I wish whomever Kate Brennan is continued courage, strength, safety and hope that one day the monster who stalks her will be gone. I'd love to read more of her writing as I found her to be stunning in her pursuit of a normal life and she is obviousily a talented, loving woman.
My heart broke repeatedly as I read this in one evening and while the location is not revealed, I felt it took place in Minnesota. Yes, indeed humans are not supposed to treat each other this way even in times of difficulty. But Brennan's small circle of people who cherish her will help her remain safe and eventually find peace. I won't forget her or her story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been in this situation, but never to this extent. This book is well written and is a must read for women in abusive relationships or recovering from your past. It was truly compelling. I read it in one day. I am going to keep this book for future reference.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Stalk, stalking, stalker - all frightening words. They are words that we see in newspapers, online, or in books. Fortunately for most of us those words are not applicable to our lives, yet we do know that millions of women are terrorized by stalkers. Frequently these women are too frightened to speak out. Not so for Kate Brennan who has been the victim of a stalker for some 13 years. Choosing to write pseudonymously in order to protect those close to her, Kate recounts years of emotional turmoil, fear, aggravation, and anything but a normal life. Those years have also been a time of growing self-awareness as she remembers growing up in an alcoholic family and the fact that she has always been attracted by slightly out of sync, controlling men. She wonders how she could have loved and once trusted a man capable of such fearful acts. Kate believes that the answer is '...that life with my family had left me with such a high tolerance for cruelty I couldn't recognize perversion when I saw it.' Then, as she notes, when she did see it she still thought that sick people could be well, that enough love and understanding might heal. She learned how very wrong she was. Kate first met Paul at a party in the home of friends. A writer and Bronte scholar, she went alone, comfortable with herself as a 41-year-old single woman. Paul was attractive, a charmer, and independently wealthy. He was a photographer, and the two shared a love of travel. He pursued her and despite past poor luck at romance Kate moved in with him. However, Paul was not at all what he seemed to be. It wasn't too long before he began having affairs, there were signs of illegal dealings, his once congenial facade changed dramatically. Kate moved out. She thought this was easily done - just walk away. She learned differently. 'You can do all the psychic and physical separation you want, but there's no getting away from someone who wants to remind you he can mess with your life anytime he wants.' Paul has the resources to do just that, and she now realizes it will not be over as long as he lives. She has moved repeatedly, still her phone goes dead because her account has been canceled. Small things are moved from place to place in her apartment, people are hired to intimidate her. When she goes to a movie, she first locates the exit then sits in the back row so she can keep an eye on the audience. There is nothing the police can do because there is no solid evidence against Paul. One wonders how she has been able to maintain her sanity through all of this. Kate's story is a chilling one, even more terrifying because it is true. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
Upon meeting affluent charming Paul, Kate thinks he is handsome and nice however she is hesitant to have any relationships as her family of alcoholics has taught her how destructive and dangerous that is. Still she cannot resist his lure and they start seeing each other exclusively. However as he insists her loves her, he begins to intimidate and threaten her even as she begins to catch his lies. Refusing to be like her mom, Kate becomes angrier with each escalating incident, but not just at her terrorizing boyfriend. She is upset with herself for constantly forgiving his ugly assaults until she realizes she helped make the monster with each ¿pass¿ she gave him. She broke off, but that did not stop him from stalking her.--------------- From the seemingly innocuous but lethal 'I'll see you again' to the realization that short of one of them dying, this will never end, readers obtain a chilling no holds barred true life look at abusive relationships with an emphasis on stalking. Not easy to read (nor I assume to write) this is must reading as an eye opening stunner. With a low ball estimate of almost 600,000 women stalked annually by their ¿cherished¿ partner, Kate Brennan bares her soul while raising a major social issue as a victim who refuses to remain silent though knowing she is still IN HIS SIGHTS. -------------- Harriet Klausner
marie_ambrosia More than 1 year ago
Like other reviewers, I read this book in only a day. I was totally absorbed into the story and did not want to put it down. The details about the realtionship and stalking are vivid and you really care about the author as she draws you into her story.