TV legend Liz Hayes has revealed the sickening, long-lasting impact of having a stalker, saying the “horror” of the experience drained all joy from her life.
In a frank acknowledgment of the distress, which may be familiar to the many from all walks of life who have experienced something similar, Hayes said “it would take years before I regained the confidence to move about safely”.
The ordeal happened after Hayes had become a household name on Channel 9’s flagship Today Show, in the 1990s – and it began with a chilling phone call in her dressing room at Nine.
In this exclusive extract from her new memoir, I’m Liz Hayes, published by The Sunday Telegraph and other News Corp mastheads, the showbiz veteran tells how she was caught off-guard as all callers were supposed to be well-screened.
‘Hello,’ I answered, and almost immediately I knew I shouldn’t have.
‘Why didn’t you use my pen?’ asked a voice on the other end.
I was startled. ‘I’m sorry?’ I said, trying hard to think who this could be.
‘My pen. I sent you a pen.’
‘I’m sorry?’ I repeated. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
By now my mind was spinning. It was a man’s voice, mature and somewhat aggressive.
Hayes at first thought it might be a Nine executive, as fellow employees could ring the dressing-room number without going through reception – but she soon changed her mind.
My internal alarm bells were ringing. This person didn’t sound like any Nine executive I’d met. But the line was clear, and the voice felt close and intimidating. He hung up.
I dropped heavily onto the couch and sat there feeling stunned. Whoever it was, I thought,
wanted me to know he was watching.
Some months later I was being stalked.
It lasted for years. Hayes goes on to give insights into the impact – which included hiring private security guards at times.
“I began to feel paranoid and overly alert,” she writes. At home, I was constantly checking that doors and windows were locked and I didn’t like being alone.”
It got worse, when the stalker visited Hayes’ parents in country NSW and hired a private detective to track her down.
“The joy drained from my life and it would take years before I regained the confidence to
move about safely,” Hayes adds. “I try not to think about it anymore so I can get on with my life, but in truth it’s still not the same.”
Hayes is known for telling other people’s stories on Today, 60 Minutes and her current show Under Investigation. But in I’m Liz Hayes, published by HarperCollins on November 15, the veteran journalist becomes the subject.
In the extract, Hayes covers many other topics, from dreaming of a job in journalism to the highs and lows of hitting the big-time. She reveals how fame – and the constant judgement and scrutiny – took its toll on the first of her three marriages, to builder Brian Hayes, and the shock of becoming the story herself.
‘Soul-destroying’ attention on my divorces: Liz Hayes exclusive
“Before I knew it, speculation was rife and my every move was being watched,” she writes. “Gossip rules, and the more salacious, the greater the interest. This would hit home pretty quickly when my first marriage ended.”
She gives a candid description of how her next marriage, to advertising tycoon John Singleton, also came undone – thanks in part to the jealousy of his beloved dog Son of Thug (Thug being Singo’s previous pet), especially after Hayes banned the pet from their bed.
“Understanding my place in the Singleton abode ultimately proved to be a tricky business,” she writes, “Especially after I realised Son of Thug was not the only one trying to get into the sack.”
Hayes also gives fascinating insight into her social and professional relationship with another media bigman: Kerry Packer, who tried to help repair her union with his great mate Singo and once commissioned her to help with his ineffectual attempts to lose weight.
The extract covers some Hayes’ many global adventures with 60 Minutes, including being under fire in the war zone of Afghanistan, with her long-term partner Ben Crane.
And it ends on “the hardest story I would ever tell” as a journalist: how the death of her dear father, after serious errors in the under-resourced hospital system where he was being treated, set her on a “course of no return” – determined to expose the shambles impacting many thousands of Australian families.
You can read the full extract here.
I’m Liz Hayes will be published by HarperCollins on November 15 and is available to