Considering a restraining order against an ex, but I have a lot of questions about the logistics and just generally whether it's going to make the situation better or worse. For example, I don't think he knows where I live- so how would it even work? Many more questions inside.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
(For answers regarding the law: I live in IL.)
I broke up with an emotionally abusive ex about a year ago. He was never violent towards me or directly threatened violence, but there were instances where I felt like we were getting dangerously close to that edge. He's maybe kind of a punch-a-hole-in-the-wall angry type of person. Towards me, he just had a lot of anger, outbursts, accusations, yelling, blaming, that type of stuff. I was afraid to break up with him because I was sure he'd try to make my life hell, but I did it anyway, finally (again, about a year ago.)
From the very beginning I asked him not to contact me at all. He'd be good about it for a while but inevitably I'd always get a text or five, or a phone message. Usually a burst of them all at once. Most of the time I tried to ignore it. Occasionally I'd break down and reply but always more or less with a message like :"Please leave me alone, I don't want to hear from you, don't text/call/email anymore." Sometimes nice, some begging, some angry. At one point, when I was ignoring all his texts and calls he actually showed up and rang my buzzer. I pretended not to be home, but moved shortly after that (about 6 months ago.) I also blocked his phone number, but the block kept expiring and I'd end up getting more messages from him. After a particularly brutal, mean bunch of messages recently I finally decided to go ahead and just change my number. So, at the moment he doesn't know where I live and he doesn't know my phone number. He still knows where I go to school, though, so if he was so inclined he could probably find me there. I don't know if he would do that or not. I don't think he would but . . . I'm not 100% sure and I've definitely been wrong in the past regarding what shitty things he was willing to stoop to.
I apologize, I'm rather emotional over this situation and I'm having a hard time being coherent- I have a lot of conflicted feelings/questions about all this so here they are in no particular order.
- For the most part, I've been trying to avoid knowing the content of any text/ email/ voicemail I get from him. I try to delete them all without reading or listening to them, because I'm afraid of what they will say. He doesn't threaten violence, but a lot of them are mean (recurring themes include what a bitch i am for ignoring him, how i ruined his life, information about people he's dating/ fucking now, and oddly enough, sometimes they just say 'i miss you and hope life is going well.') i think he's a sociopath. whatever the case, whenever i see an email/ text from him i get an extreme physical reaction- nausea, fear, adrenaline, often followed by nightmares for the next several days. It doesn't even matter WHAT the message says. I guess at this point even the nice messages scare me because I know the mean ones will often follow after I ignore the nice one. Anyway, what I'm getting at is- do I even have an argument here? "I keep asking him to stop and he keeps bugging me. But I don't know what he's even saying." Does someone need to be making an actual threat? Or is this harassment enough? Unfortunately, due to my OMG-MUST-DELETE-IMMEDIATELY thing, I don't have as much documentation as I wish I did. I should have saved it all, but I guess I just never really thought it would get to this point.
- I'm wondering what filing a restraining order against him would actually achieve. On the one hand, he doesn't even know how to contact me anymore, so it's possible it will stop. But then again, all it takes is one time for him to get really mad and decide I'm the cause of all his problems, and come hunt me down in a rage. Do I think this is likely? No, not at all. But I am not sure enough to rule it out completely. I know he has a firearm card/ permit whatever but I don't know if he actually owns a gun. I read that if you file a restraining order against someone they will have to surrender their firearm card/gun. So, this is one reason I would want to do it. But I know that it's not forever- will I be contacted when he's allowed to have his firearm card (and possibly gun) back? Will I have to keep getting R.O.'s for the rest of my life? What if I forget and the day he gets his (possible) gun back he decides to come get his revenge on me?
- On the other hand, like I said, it's entirely possible that without any more easy ways to contact me, he might just give up and leave me alone. If this is the case, I don't want to instigate more drama and escalate things by bringing a restraining order into it. I guess my question with this and the above statement is- for those of you who have been through something like this, are you glad you did it, or did it just cause more trouble?
- One of my biggest concerns is whether this would compromise what I've achieved by moving and changing my number. I mean, how do you get a restraining order against someone without them knowing where you live? Can it just cover certain areas? I want him to be kept away from my school. It's possible he could find out where I live by following me home from school, but I have know way of knowing whether this has happened. So . . . what the hell do I do? (My school has security guards and surveillance cameras- should I trust that this is enough to protect me?)
- He told me a while back that he was planning to move to another state. Knowing him (he's full of shit) he probably didn't, but I don't know how to find out- I don't want to contact him or any of his friends or family. If he does live in another state can I still request a R.O.?
- One of my biggest concerns is just what his reaction is going to be to this. I know him- he will be furious. He will think it's all in my head, that I'm overreacting over nothing, and that I'm trying to ruin his life. He will probably tell this to everyone he knows (how he never did anything, how I'm a crazy bitch trying to ruin his life, etc.) It's not that I care what they think. More like I know this will cause him to want him to retaliate in some way, and he's pretty damn persuasive/ manipulative- what if his friends and family all believe his side of the story and team up with him to punish me for this? It's not like I can get a R.O. against him AND all his friends and family. For people who have been through this- if you had an ex like this- did he react by flipping out? Did it make things worse? Especially if it was a long time ago- my biggest fear is that taking this action would escalate him from a problem that was going to fade away on its own, to a problem that will continue to follow me for the rest of my life. Because if I understand IL law correctly, it would go on his record and follow HIM for the rest of his life (or at least a while?) and as long as he's thinking of me he's going to want to be harassing me.
All I want is for him to just completely disappear from my life and leave me alone. I don't care about getting revenge or "punishing" him, and I'm afraid that's what he'd see this as, and take it as an invitation to harass me even more when he can. What if it keeps escalating? What if I end up having to call the police on him and he gets arrested or goes to jail? I don't think any of that would cause him remorse, i think it would just fuel the fire for him to retaliate and try to ruin MY life. i want to just let it go and hope and pray that moving and changing my number will be the end of it. but i can't feel totally comfortable knowing he may own a gun, and knowing he has a bad temper and terrible judgment. so what the hell do i do? (i'd like to move to another state, far away, but i can't until i finish school- so a couple more years, unfortunately. I can't transfer to a different program, I have to finish the one i'm in.)
I'll make a sockpuppet account so people can memail me directly, and so I can answer questions if necessary, I know this probably wasn't the most coherent question ever. he spent several years trying to make me doubt my own judgment and sanity, and it seems to have worked- i really need some outside perspectives regarding this problem. the more i think about it, the more confused and frustrated i get. am i overreacting? am i not doing enough? do i have other options that i'm not thinking of? thank you all so much in advance. (and for those of you who might suggest i should also seek counseling- i plan to, first thing Monday morning I'll be calling the therapist I was seeing immediately after the breakup. and i have not read the gift of fear but i see it recommended on here all the time and plan to try to acquire/read it today too.)