'I'm glad I can say I'm a survivor': Man stalked in Newport News shares his story

aqw - 2022-01-12T185553.219.png
Posted at 6:50 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 21:21:29-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A man who says he was stalked for months is sharing his story.

Jonathan DeCastro told News 3 that the stalking he suffered began in 2019 when he still lived in Newport News. Although he wasn't with his partner for long, the stalking began when they broke up.

"About a month or two into the relationship, that's when things started to shift for the worse," DeCastro said. "When I left the relationship, it was harassment through text messages. He definitely wanted to make sure that I knew that he wasn't going to leave me alone."

DeCastro's ex allegedly showed up at his home when he wasn't there, sometimes leaving messages on DeCastro's windshield for him to find.

"It just kept continuing, and then at that point, I was like, 'Yeah, this is something that's detrimental to my mental health,'" DeCastro said. "Certain things that were said really did make me feel like this person might actually be capable of physically hurting me."

Related: ODU student murdered 15 years ago honored at domestic violence vigil in Virginia Beach

When asked if he ever thought he would become a victim of stalking, DeCastro told News 3, "Absolutely not."

Once DeCastro couldn't take it anymore, he leaned on the Newport News Police Department for help. He told News 3 the domestic violence unit was his "saving grace," helping him get a restraining order as well as getting the ball rolling in terms of charges against his ex.

The NNPD said in 2020, they responded to 123 domestic violence-related cases in the city, and in 2021 they responded to 59 cases.

Neisha Himes, the CEO of GROW, an organization that helps domestic violence victims, said she sees cases like this often.

"We've worked with at least 50 to 60% stalking cases," Himes said. "[They can range from] harassing phone calls, or a GPS tracker being placed into [the victim's] vehicle unwanted."

The stalking was a painful chapter in DeCastro's life, one that caused him to move to New Jersey. He told us his offender died by suicide, and said he wishes the outcome had been different.

Now an advocate for others in his shoes, DeCastro is speaking out to help connect stalking victims with resources. GROW also helps with resources, such as housing referrals, daily living necessities and survivor support groups.