How to keep stalker at bay?
March 15, 2010 7:57 PM   Subscribe

Tell me what I can do to protect my house and my wife from a creepy guy who has previously had run of our house, but hasn't broken any laws.

So to make a long story short, my wife works for a commercial flooring company as a liason between installers (who work as contractors) and the flooring vendor. We decided to re-tile our kitchen and hired the work out to one of the contractors whom she's had good experience with in the past.

He did a great job. Unfortunately, when he was done (I was out of town) and came back to return his key, he propositioned my wife. When she deflected, he attempted to physically engage her (hugged and kissed her). She told him to leave.

This was on Saturday. Since then he has called her cell phone every day, including leaving voicemails saying that he is going to come over and bring tamales. She has not responded, and has blocked his number. He called twice today.

She is getting extremely nervous about this.

The thing, he hasn't really done anything illegal. I'm not sure if she can get a restraining order (I know that "stalking" is a means to get a restraining order, but does this really constitute stalking?).

I am going to be staying home from work tomorrow and re-keying the locks. Considering that this guy had run of the house for a week while we were at work, is there anything else that I need to do?

I guess one of the main reasons that I am posting this is that I am halfway considering buying a gun. I am a liberal hippy pacifist and don't even know how to shoot a gun, but I am thinking that this guy may come back, and in a threatening way. I'd like to be able to intimidate him enough such that he leaves us alone. Thing is, I don't have any idea how to use a gun, and I think it would be quite obvious.

99 chances out of 100 this guy is harmless, but we (especially my wife) have no peace of mind right now.

I am really frustrated and not quite sure what to do.
posted by robokevin to Human Relations (65 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Consult a lawyer in your area to see what your options are as far as restraining order, etc--I would bet you do have some.

Leaving aside the issue of getting a gun, DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT brandish a gun (especially if you're new to handling a gun) as a way to intimidate someone. It could lead to a horrible accident and/or the other guy drawing his weapon and shooting.
posted by sallybrown at 8:01 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

If you're nervous enough that you're asking this question (and considering buying a gun—don't!) then it probably constitutes stalking.
posted by k. at 8:04 PM on March 15, 2010

The thing, he hasn't really done anything illegal.

Let the cops work on that one. Your job isn't to worry about that.

I'm not sure if she can get a restraining order (I know that "stalking" is a means to get a restraining order, but does this really constitute stalking?).

She can tomorrow. Please call the police tonight and get a report.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:10 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also I wonder if your wife should actually answer the phone, just to tell him never to call again. If he keeps doing it persistently even after you're sure that he's gotten the message, then you need something stronger to stop him (maybe a restraining order, not a weapon).
posted by k. at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2010

When she deflected, he attempted to physically engage her (hugged and kissed her).

The thing, he hasn't really done anything illegal.

In fact, he (sexually) assaulted her. Now he is threatening to trespass on your property, and putting your wife in fear for her physical safety. Call the police.
posted by Dasein at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2010 [63 favorites]

I am halfway considering buying a gun. I am a liberal hippy pacifist and don't even know how to shoot a gun, but I am thinking that this guy may come back, and in a threatening way. I'd like to be able to intimidate him enough such that he leaves us alone.

This sounds like a very very bad idea. Perhaps call a non-emergency number or drop by the local precinct and talk to a cop? They could tell you if this is something worth talking to a lawyer about.
posted by special-k at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2010

Call your local police and ask to speak to a detective. They can answer your question better than anyone here.

Having a gun with no experience or training in using it is more of a danger to you and your wife than a potential stalker.
posted by nestor_makhno at 8:13 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't get a gun. Hippie pacifist inexperienced gun owner plus stalker guy doesn't usually end well.

This very probably qualifies for a restraining order. If nothing else, report the calls as harassment to start a paper trail and THEN you'll get a restraining order. Talk to a lawyer about a restraining order, or simply talk to an advocate at your family court (this is usually where restraining orders originate, regardless of the relationship). You might even be able to download the forms tonight and take them to court first thing in the morning.

In case you haven't been, save every voicemail.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:13 PM on March 15, 2010

I guess one of the main reasons that I am posting this is that I am halfway considering buying a gun. I am a liberal hippy pacifist and don't even know how to shoot a gun, but I am thinking that this guy may come back, and in a threatening way. I'd like to be able to intimidate him enough such that he leaves us alone.

Fists and a cellphone can intimidate just fine. Don't work towards the confrontation, work away from it. This involves calling the police, who are there to serve you.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:14 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

First off, without proper training and education, a gun sounds like a very bad idea, as everyone else is saying.

More importantly, to stop the behavior -- can you hit the guy in his wallet? By that I mean, is there someone superior to your wife at the flooring company who can contact this guy and tell him that he will never be hired or recommended by the company for another job unless he cuts this shit out immediately? I would certainly advise your wife to at least explain this situation to a supervisor or someone in HR at her company.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:15 PM on March 15, 2010 [14 favorites]

IANYA. If your wife has told him do not call or visit, his continued behavior may well warrant a restraining order in your jurisdiction--not to mention the apparent fact that he has previously assaulted her in your house. Get one. If for nothing else, because you want to make a record. Even though I agree with you that this man is probably harmless, make a record. Make a record. Make a record.
posted by applemeat at 8:15 PM on March 15, 2010

Call the non-emergency police phone number, and talk with them. This is the kind of thing they do. They may suggest you get a restraining order, in which case you then get a lawyer to handle that.

Ignore the violence part of things, that won't be good. And as you say, he hasn't escalated to that level. And anyway, if he does, you call that emergency police phone number....
posted by cschneid at 8:15 PM on March 15, 2010

Please do not buy a gun, especially if you have no idea how to use it! Call the police tomorrow (or right now if you'd like), report that he sexually assaulted your wife + has been stalking her, document everything, and find a lawyer in your area that can help.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:15 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

You can put up a "No Trespassing" sign and call the cops next time he is over - there should be some kind of criminal trespass statute in your jurisdiction.

The key at this point is making it known that his presence is unwelcome and that is one way to do it.

His defense can be "well, i had permission to be there" which he once had. So you want to make sure this defense is eliminated.

You can take an extra step and install a video surveillance system, if he is on the property after the trespass warning, then he has technically violated the law.

I am speaking about how things would work in Texas. You should consult the police and possibly your local prosecutor office to figure out what your options are form a criminal law point of view.
posted by abdulf at 8:17 PM on March 15, 2010

I doubt that this is that serious, but keep in mind there are plenty of non-lethal self-defense options out there besides buying a gun. I mean, you could get some mace or even a taser for your wife. Both of those will probably stop this guy if he tries something. With a bonus of not, you know, killing him and not killing either of you by accident.
posted by delmoi at 8:18 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

When she deflected, he attempted to physically engage her (hugged and kissed her).

That sounds a lot like sexual assault. You've also got a case for harrassment. Contact the police station nearest you. Keep detailed records of everything (time, length of call, content of call).

I have no experience of a firearm culture and thus no opinion on the pros and cons of buying a gun, but I'd lean towards "Eh, leave it for now."

Considering that this guy had run of the house for a week while we were at work, is there anything else that I need to do?

Damn, if I was in your situation I would be cleaning out my wife's "intimates" drawer and ditching any open containers in the fridge. Do you have any pets? Keep a special eye on them, because this sounds like the sort of guy who would poison a dog or nailgun a cat at the drop of a hat. Inform your neighbours and give them a description of this guy and ask them to please make a note of the date and time of any suspicious activity. And this might be going into the realm of crazy paranoid but check for hidden cameras in all the logical spots.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:25 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh and also I, personally, wouldn't pay him for the work on the floor.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:26 PM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

You are doing the right thing in staying home tomorrow and rekeying your locks. You should let the cops know what's going on. You should not use this as a reason to buy a gun. If it were me, I'd answer my wife's phone the next time he calls and say firmly and unequivocally that he needs to stop calling, she's not interested, and that calling again will needlessly complicate his life in unpleasant ways.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:27 PM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

I am a lawyer, but not your lawyer. You may well benefit from consulting with a lawyer, but at a minimum, you definitely need to call the cops. They are there to protect everyone (including liberal hippie pacifists) against the more unsavory elements of society (including flooring installers who take unwarranted liberties and/or commit sexual assault).

You didn't say where you are, so nobody can offer jurisdiction-specific advice, However, virtually all police departments have non-emergency numbers that you can call if there's no crime in progress, but you have something that ought to be brought to their attention anyway. This is almost a textbook example, although given this guy's past, he may even qualify for calling the emergency number. Don't worry about troubling them--you're trying to prevent a crime, and this is the police's very raison d'être.

Also, document everything.

Finally, this is not legal advice.
posted by tellumo at 8:28 PM on March 15, 2010

Yeah, don't get a gun. Get an order of protection. In many jurisdictions, you can do this yourself without needing to hire a lawyer; often the court will provide forms and basic instructions on filling them out. There's also a wealth of info online for many, many jurisdictions that will describe exactly what you need to do to get an order of protection, so avail yourself of those resources. Seriously. If you and your wife are feeling threatened enough to consider buying a gun (!! and, DON'T), take control over that fear and do something about it.
posted by devinemissk at 8:28 PM on March 15, 2010

In terms of home defense, get a plan. That plan should be you guys calling the cops and you leaving with your wife out the back door and to a neighbor's house, where you await the arrival of the law. Call the neighbor and make arrangements. If someone breaks into your residence, the response time will be minutes.

Make sure that your wife knows of your preparations and planning. Get a plan, as you are the one less threatened and more able to think. Put yourself in charge of the plan.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:29 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

If he had free run of your house, you might want to look through your drawers and closets and any other places you don't look every day and see if anything is missing.

I don't think she should answer her phone. According to The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, if he calls her 20 times and she answers, she has just taught him that it takes 20 calls to get her to pick up the phone, and next time he might try 40 or 60 times.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:48 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

First, call a reliable security company and get everything alarmed. Learn how to use it, and keep a taser and mace by every door. Also, borrow or adopt a large German Shepard. When your wife goes out by herself, walk her to and from the car. Put up heavy drapes and keep them closed! Have a frank talk with this whacko and make him promise to stay away, and like the others DOCUMENT everything! Personally, I'm an old grandma and I learned how to use a pistol to 99% accuracy, and my house is fully alarmed at all times....
posted by ~Sushma~ at 8:49 PM on March 15, 2010

I'm sure some will hate this advice and maybe they're right but the first thing I would do in this situation is call this dude up (or answer his next call) so that he understood that I was in the picture and knew what he had done. I would not threaten him personally, but I would tell him that he needed to put an end to contacting my wife for good. If there was a single additional contact I would bring the police into the picture. I wouldn't blame you or think you at fault for involving the police now and I wonder if your wife's employer shouldn't be involved. I can understand not wanting to go down that road for various reasons but really this guy has seriously violated his trust as a contractor. But (and I'm not condoning this guy in any way) how he mostly seems to be acting is like a serious tool who believes he has some kind of a shot with your wife because he is self-deluded. I think he will vanish when it becomes clear he is absolutely wrong.

If he hasn't shown up without permission by now it seems really unlikely that he's going to when you're in the picture. If he shows up call the cops. Ironmouth is correct, leaving your house is your number one best strategy in the event of a break-in. And yes, talk to your neighbors about it let them know what kind of vehicle he drives and what he looks like, ask them to call the cops if they see him around. Do not buy a gun.
posted by nanojath at 8:54 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hmm. I don't want to minimize the fear you're feeling or the intrusiveness of what you are experiencing, but what you describe might not cause me, personally, to feel quite the level of concern that you and others commenters do. It might, depending on the tone of the communications, but for the sake of a difference of opinion, read on.

Here are the facts as I understand them: On Saturday, he made an unwelcome proposition, she said "no," he rashly tried to hug and kiss her, she pushed him away and asked him to leave, and he did. On Sunday, he called. On Monday, he called twice. In one of those three calls, he left a message and said he was going to drop by and bring tamales.

I could read those facts in an ominous way, as the start of something terrible, and I could read those facts as awkward and wrong, but more or less innocent (on preview, as nanojath describes). As you say, it's 99% likely that he's harmless. I wonder if he knows you're counting the calls, or if he just dumbly calls back hoping to reach her. I wonder if he realizes that he's scaring you guys. I wouldn't like the calls either, but I would probably still be in "wait and see" mode.

During this phase, I would tell my supervisor and coworkers, rekey the locks, and check the locks on all the windows of the house. If he called again, I might next call him from work and say, "hi Bob, it's Salvia. Thanks again for installing our floors. I am calling now to ask you not to call my cell phone again. Our relationship is purely professional. I am already married. It makes me uncomfortable. In fact, it sort of scares me. Please do not call me again. If you call me again, I will contact the police. I want to keep our relationship strictly professional. Does all of this make sense to you?" An alternate path I'd consider would be asking my supervisor to contact him and let him know that because of the company's harassment policy, he needed to stop calling me or else the company would not be able to contract with him anymore.

It would be at that point, if he called me again, that I would get a dog, a restraining order, and so forth.
posted by salvia at 9:06 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

He assaulted her which is, in fact, totally illegal. You don't have to press charges if your wife doesn't want to but even without that a visit from the police and a written record of his behavior might cause him to reevaluate his actions in a hurry. Either way you need to report the assault so there is a record so call the emergency line or go down to the station.

Your wife needs to tell the company she works for as well as the police. The man sexually assaulted a client (and quit frankly, sounds like he's high or drunk- tamales??) and they need to know. If he does it again and it comes out that the company knew (in this case your wife) and still sent him out on jobs then that will probably not be a pleasant experience for her, despite her being the victim in this case.

And don't EVER tell him that he's scaring you or your wife. Creepy guys like that.
posted by fshgrl at 9:21 PM on March 15, 2010

Rather than a taser and mace, I would make sure that I had a home phone line and never answer the door without a cordless phone in my hand. A phone and a healthy amount of suspicion can go a long way in protecting oneself. Definitely answer the phone when he calls, and let him know that he will never work in your town again if he keeps trying to contact her.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:23 PM on March 15, 2010

Keep very thorough records of any incidents with or contact from him - dates, times, what was said by him, what was said in response as well as measures you have taken (such as rekeying locks, consulting police about a restraining order). Save voicemail messages. The more detail you have documented the better.

I would also make sure that she informs her coworkers that he is not to be trusted with information about her such as her whereabouts, when she will or will not be at work, if she's out at lunch, when she'll be back, etc. If her company has an HR department, she should inform them of what occurred as well so they can document what happened and take steps to ensure he is not allowed to interact with her professionally. They have a responsibility for her safety at work.

Sorry you're going through this. Good luck.
posted by cecic at 9:27 PM on March 15, 2010

Is it possible that there is a cultural or language barrier taking place between your wife and the contractor? He may be misinterpreting her friendliness as flirtation. In any case, the hug, attempted kiss and persistent phone calls are inappropriate, but there is no indication that this guy is a violent stalker who is going to do anything violent.

How about the next time the contractor calls, your wife answers, and in as angry as a voice as she can, yells: "do NOT fucking call me ever again!" and hangs up.

If this doesn't nip the behavior in the bud, then maybe you should step in and call the man and tell him to leave your wife alone. Muster up your liberal hippie pacifist words and talk to him.

Then, if he continues to call, it's time for a restraining order.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:28 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh and also I, personally, wouldn't pay him for the work on the floor.

I dunno if this is such a great idea. If the creep did the work as agreed, not paying him would seem to give him a plausible reason for contacting the OP's wife. On the other hand, definitely listen to whatever advice the police officer gives you when you call them about this tomorrow.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:34 PM on March 15, 2010 [9 favorites]

This asshole assualted your wife. He wants to bring tamales over? Call the cops and have them there. Watch the asshole go to central booking. I'm not a lawyer either but beteween the kissing/hugging attempts and the frequent calls you can probably convince the cops to pick this guy up. If you have the stamina for it, press charges.

And get a baseball bat, not a gun.
posted by vrakatar at 9:36 PM on March 15, 2010

Best answer: IANYL. I would interpret the events the same way you have, and would feel similarly threatened. I have had a couple of similar situations, and they blew over, and chances are yours one will too. But it takes a long time to get over feeling threatened (if you ever really do, to be honest).

I will also say that every time I have not filed a police report, even when something never came of it, I regretted it. You need to make a record, for safety's safe, and because you are not a victim. They give out restraining orders like candy in some jurisdictions, so you might consider one. I would suggest a firm instruction not to contact your wife again, that way if he does it's doubtless hostile and threatening and stalky (you've asked whether the conduct is stalking, and it depends on your jurisdiction's anti-stalking statute, which would be available online, always).

You also might find a way to pull his criminal record. In my jurisdiction, the courts keep online records of all cases, regardless of the disposition (conviction/no conviction), and its all public info. Chances are if he hasn't had any incidents in the past, he's just smitten. Not that that excuses his behavior, but it does mean you have less to fear. The sex offender registry is always public record. Check jurisdictions you know him to have lived in the past also. If its not public record, you'd need to have a friend at the DAs office, police department, or courthouse probably (and what they'd be doing wouldn't technically be ok, but people do it all the time).

If he is licensed to do general contracting, his license might be affected if he's using his professional position to gain access to a home with the purpose of harassing women.

I wouldn't suggest engaging him in an argument. In case he is a nutcase, you wouldn't want to set him off. Firm, short, and to the point. He might apologize and agree to leave her alone, you never know.

Also, I would recommend a territorial dog before a gun. Borrow one from a friend if you need to. You can alternatively order a stunner online, illegal in many jurisdiction, but who will know, and no one will die if you screw up using it. It might make your wife feel better to have it in your home.

Which leads me to my final point in saying that you should focus just as much on making your wife feel safe as you do preparing yourself for the possible, but improbable, confrontation. I would talk to her as much as she needs to talk about it, but help her to not feel shame if she wants to go to a friend's for the weekend just to get away from it. She'll need to reclaim her home, emotionally speaking, and the best you can do is be patient and accommodating during that process.
posted by letahl at 10:00 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Woah I didn't expect quite so many responses! Thanks!

I am going to explore my options with the PD tomorrow morning. I just didn't think I had any.

And I am definitely not going to buy a gun! I really didn't want to have to own a gun anyway.

There is definitely a language/cultural barrier. I have thought about calling him myself and making it very clear to him not to call back, but I was afraid that this might set him off.

We have already paid him for the floor, which I think can work in our advantage since our business with him is completed.
posted by robokevin at 10:03 PM on March 15, 2010

Response by poster: Oh we do have a big dog (Black Lab). She has a mean bark but she is really nothing but a sweetie. The problem is that this guy spent a week in our house, so the dog already knows him very well and I'm not sure if she would have much of a response to him if she saw him again.
posted by robokevin at 10:08 PM on March 15, 2010

Response by poster: Not sure how or if I can edit replies, I'm mostly a lurker on MeFi.

But my wife will not be working with him again. They have pretty much free reign over who they give work to as contractors, and she is going to go to the GM tomorrow and let him know of the situation and that they can't work with him anymore.

Again I really think that we won't see him again, and that this guy is harmless, but I have to have something to give me (and my wife) peace of mind.
posted by robokevin at 10:11 PM on March 15, 2010

Best answer: -Nthing Gift of Fear

-Marc Macyoung's website No Nonsense Self Defense has some very useful information including:
-Home Security
-Home Defense (Personally, I'm echoing the advice from upthread re: don't get a gun, not under these circumstances)
-Stalkers/ Domestic Violence
-Nots & Bolts solutions to stalkers
-The 5 Stages of Violent Crime
-The Pyramid of Personal Safety

This guy put a hand on your wife while he knew you were out of town. Not only is that assault just about everywhere in all 50 states, but he's continuing to call? Holy cow, but this guys sounds like bad-news in Spades.

Get the cops involved ASAP if you haven't already. Press charges, make it public, call in every unit of cavalry and legal force even remotely possible to bring the hammer of negative reinforcement down on this guy.

Consider that he probably knows where your wife works and may try to approach her there. Her employer should be informed of this guys actions, especially if she gets a restraining order. Her employer doesn't want to be sending this guy out to represent them in the field anyway.

Trust that icky feeling. It's your survival instincts trying to keep you and yours alive. If he shows up at the door call 911 immediately and tell them that the man who assaulted your wife is back and at the door and wont' go away.

But I would under no circumstances underestimate the seriousness of what this guy has done. Physically assaulting then openly calling and harassing a married woman is a gutsy move, one that signals he's already comfortable transgressing social boundaries. So what other boundaries is he going to have no problem crossing? How much assault (above and beyond the level he's already shown) does he consider acceptable?

Did I mention call the cops?

Best of luck.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:14 PM on March 15, 2010 [14 favorites]

re: the dog - If he shows up and your wife gets all freaked out by his presence, the dog will respond. Spent a week doing flooring or no, dogs know when their pack leader doesn't want to make someone welcome. They have strong pack-protection instincts.

This is why it's so important to make sure your dog is well behaved and under your control under normal circumstances. Because when the dog is barking at the bushes and won't shut up like they always do when you tell them, that's the time to pay attention.

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:22 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Panic buying a gun is a bad idea as a lot of people have pointed out and you've already best-answered the best answers you'll get.

That said, you could take a shooting safety class and try a few different guns at a shooting range. Revolvers and shotguns are great for beginners and, who knows, you might find a fun new hobby.

In any case, you'll have less to worry about in the future if you feel competent to defend yourself and others.
posted by codswallop at 10:46 PM on March 15, 2010

Read the Gift of Fear. First chapter.

Do NOT under any circumstances contact him, or have your wife answer the phone. Ideal would be an answering machine and screen everything. When he calls, simply do not answer.

And definitely get over the idea that "he hasn't done anything illegal". That determination is for the district attorney to make, not you. If the whole episode had stopped at her deflecting his proposition, that would be a gray area. But he attempted physical contact, and to me -- not a lawyer, just your average neighborhood-watch guy -- that's crossing a big line. That he has further continued to call takes him well into the definition of stalking. Do NOT minimize this. To Gavin de Becker, this persistence is a huge danger sign. It's someone who is incapable of interpreting basic social signals.

Finally, you have to think not only of your wife, but the other women this creep comes into contact with. Consider that it's the perfect set-up for a predator. How many times has he tried it in the past, and the women/couples have brushed it under the rug? Wouldn't you like to have known that he had done this before? Want to bet that this was really the first time? What about the next time? Your wife's employer needs to consider their potential liability here and cut him loose.

And tamales? Bull. Shit. Guy's probably the world's expert at smoothing things over because he can't stop himself -- same way a lot of wife-beaters have a charming way about them.
posted by dhartung at 11:41 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I mean no offense to those who have offered it, but there is some staggeringly terrible advice here. Those who have suggested that you not buy a gun are endangering your family.

Yeah, call the police department and file a report. Yeah, change your locks. Yeah, get a big dog. These are all good suggestions.

However, they are all good suggestions in addition to getting a gun.

The bottom line is that, if you or your wife sincerely believe that her safety--or even her life--is in danger, buying (and, of course, learning how to use) a gun is one of the few things that you can do that actually gives you a level of control over that safety.

If you have a fear that her safety is in danger, you should listen to that fear. If your instincts are telling you that something is off in this situation, there's a decent chance that something's actually off.

Restraining orders and police departments are good, but they only really help after the fact. A restraining order doesn't physically protect your wife's safety. All it does is say that, if he violates the order, he can be charged with a crime. The police department can arrest him, but only after a crime is committed. Even if the police department could reliably prevent crime from happening, it's a lot harder to put a police officer in your nightstand drawer than a handgun.

Buying a gun won't make you inherently dangerous to yourself or your family. A vast, huge, overwhelming majority of guns are never used to kill or injure a person. In 2008, there were roughly 9,500 unjustifiable homicides involving firearms. There are about 75,000 non-fatal firearms injuries a year (including justifiable shootings). There are slightly fewer than 200,000,000 firearms in the United States. That means that there are about 199,910,000 guns in the United States that didn't manage to shoot anybody last year (and that's assuming that each shooting was with a unique weapon).

Shooting a handgun is, generally speaking, not too tough to learn. Almost any gun store will be more than happy to explain the operation and safe handling of a gun to you, especially if you explain your circumstances. Depending on where you are, there is almost certainly an NRA Basic Pistol or NRA Personal Protection in the Home course near you. It'll take you a couple of hours--tops--to be reasonably proficient in your handgun's use. (They won't even feed you a bunch of NRA political propaganda.) If you can't find a class, keep the following rules in mind and you'll stay safe: 1) Treat every gun as if it's loaded. 2) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 3) Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to destroy. 4) Be 100% certain of your target and what is behind it. Actually, even if you can find a class, keep those rules in mind.

Even if you aren't completely convinced that you need a gun yet, I recommend going and buying one and becoming familiar with it now. A month down the road, this guy might decide to escalate the situation. Maybe he'll break into your house while nobody's home. Or maybe your wife will spot him following her on the way home from the store. At that point, you decide that your tipping point has been reached, and you want a gun right now--liberal hippy pacifist or not. Unfortunately, you find out that your state has a three day waiting period for handguns, and you're out of luck.

Your biggest problem should you ever have to use a weapon will probably be, quite frankly, your mental attitude. If you decide to purchase a gun--and I very strongly recommend that you do--you need to make up your mind now that you're willing to use it if necessary. That's not something that's easy to get your mind around, but you need to make that decision for yourself before you purchase any weapon.

I personally don't find much difficulty in reaching this decision, as the alternative is to be a victim. I encourage you to make the conscious decision to refuse to be a victim--and, more importantly, to refuse to let your wife become a victim. Don't let this guy make you live in fear.

Finally, if you want to be a liberal hippy pacifist, that's fine. Buying a gun won't turn you into an Obama-hating, NRA-backing, Neocon, Red-Stater. It'll just turn you into a liberal hippy pacifist who is willing to exert control over his own safety and that of his wife.

Good luck.

P.S. You might even find that you really enjoy shooting. I've introduced a lot of people to shooting, and have yet to find somebody who didn't enjoy the hell out of it.
posted by LDL707 at 12:02 AM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: "re: the dog - If he shows up and your wife gets all freaked out by his presence, the dog will respond. Spent a week doing flooring or no, dogs know when their pack leader doesn't want to make someone welcome. They have strong pack-protection instincts."

Agreed. I am only a visitor in my friend's home but her daughter lives there. Her daughter thought it would be funny to tip me backwards in the chair I was in. I shrieked because I thought I was falling, and my friend's dog jumped all over her trying to get to me and force her way between us. The dog never bit or scratched or even growled in this case, because the daughter was a trusted human too - she just wanted to see that I was okay.

posted by IndigoRain at 12:38 AM on March 16, 2010

This seems like a good time for your wife to mention his behavior at work, too, as well as the police. If he's treating her this way, it's likely he's treating other women this way. I'm sure he did a fine job with the floor, but professional boundaries are part of the job, and this guy gets a key to how many peoples' homes? Is this guy bonded? It sure doesn't sound like he should be.

My concern there is that, if he's suddenly out of work, he's angry at your household. Still, if he's doing this to your household, how likely is it that he's doing it to more and hurting the company? Maybe they'll help?

(As an aside, I'm dealing with a new creepy assistant manager at my apartment complex who has a key to my home, so I'm uncertain about some things, too. The creepy dude here hasn't tried to hug, kiss, or bring me tamales, though. We're a HUD non-profit and I'm on the board, so my creepy dude is just mostly trying to keep his job, I think. I still sleep with a phone in reach, in case he decides to "inspect" my home without notice. It's a drag to have to worry about stuff like this.)
posted by lilywing13 at 2:38 AM on March 16, 2010

Those who have suggested that you not buy a gun are endangering your family.

No. Let's be clear, here. Those who have suggested that you not buy a gun are, most certainly, not the ones endangering your family.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:33 AM on March 16, 2010 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: I really don't want to turn this into a political thing but I'd prefer to avoid owning a gun at all costs. That has nothing to do with politics, just personal lifestyle preference.
posted by robokevin at 5:55 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This thread is now in tl;dr range, but no one seems to have thrown out the option of getting a protective/restraining order. This is fairly simple to do, does not necessarily require the help of a lawyer, and is pretty easy to enforce. Your local courthouse will be able to help you file the appropriate papers.
posted by valkyryn at 5:59 AM on March 16, 2010

If there was a way to down-grade a comment, LDL707's is a perfect candidate. Do not get a gun for personal defense. There is a far higher chance you'll hurt someone you care about than a stalker or burglar. The problem with the statistics isn't the 199m guns that weren't used, especially since a large number of them are in the hands of law enforcement or the military, were unsold at stores, or are not for personal defense. It's the fact that nearly 10,000 people died for no reason, and that doesn't even count the accidental deaths and injuries.

I repeat: Do not get a gun. This is coming from someone familiar and fairly comfortable with firearms and their uses. I've also seen what happens when they're used by people unfamiliar or nervous around them.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:00 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: lilywing13: Part of the story that I left out is that previous to all of this, the guy had a payment dispute with the GM of the company that my wife works for and is no longer accepting work from my wife's company. We hired him to do our floors because she knew he was awesome and out of work.

These contractors quit all the time though, and then come back, and she is pretty sure that he will come back. However she is going to make an HR issue out of it with the GM today so that he can't come back.

I'm not sure if he is bonded or not (are flooring guys typically bonded?). I get the impression (though this may be unconscious prejudice) that he may be an illegal resident.
posted by robokevin at 6:03 AM on March 16, 2010

Restraining order stat. Can you get an alarm system (and possibly even a dog)? Sorry after reading the Alissa Blanton story, I don't take this guy's actions lightly and yes, he did sexually assault her so he did pull an illegal move.

Ignore him, keep all evidence, contact, take pictures of him on your property, etc. for the restraining order.

I"m so sorry this is happening to you both. Very scary. :(
posted by stormpooper at 6:21 AM on March 16, 2010

Oh and you may want to see if he installed any cameras. Sorry and I know extreme but if he was alone in your house and he's creepy, one never knows. It takes a minute to quickly look. And never, ever assume someone is 99% harmless. He did grab and try to kiss your wife. What sane person does that?
posted by stormpooper at 6:22 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have to second everyone above who said talk to the cops, that's what they're there for. I also second what Stormpooper said about the cameras. This creepo had access to your house for a week, who knows what he could have done.

I dropped in to suggest an alarm system. I'm also not comfortable with guns, but my husband was working nights for a long time and I didn't feel comfortable without some kind of protection. We got an alarm, and I feel so much better. It has a chime that lets me know whenever a door is opened so I know when the kids are coming in and out, and there are a couple of panic modes. If somebody is holding a gun to my head and telling me to shut off the alarm I can enter a code that will alert the company not to call but to just send the cops ASAP. There is also a basic panic button both on the wall unit and on my keys that alerts the company to call me and then they send cops if they don't get an answer. (I accidentally set it off the other day and I can tell you that it actually works, much to my embarrassment!)

I also have a German Shepherd Dog, and I can't recommend that breed enough. We adopted her from the Humane Society. A month after we got her I fainted and had to call a neighbor to help. My dog wouldn't let anyone near me. And that was only after knowing me for a month.

We actually had two break-ins in two days, both houses were right across the street from my house and happened in broad daylight. I am usually really panicky about that kind of thing, but with my dog and my alarm I was very confident that I wouldn't have an issue.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:54 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

no one seems to have thrown out the option of getting a protective/restraining order.

It was mentioned several times before your comment.

He did grab and try to kiss your wife. What sane person does that?

Someone clueless and from another culture? Not AT ALL condoning this creep, just noting that cultural differences might factor here, at least in assessing this person's sanity.
posted by applemeat at 6:59 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

If this was me I would be getting an alarm system, stat.
posted by sickinthehead at 7:03 AM on March 16, 2010

Have you checked the house over for hidden cameras? You might even hire a detective agency to come and help you do a sweep since they are familiar with the cameras. Hopefully there's nothing there, but this guy was in your house alone for a whole week. I'd at least consider it.
posted by agentwills at 7:22 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I get the impression (though this may be unconscious prejudice) that he may be an illegal resident.

Then you have the option to go nuclear and call Immigration. If he's leaving you alone, I wouldn't, but if he develops into a serious problem, then maybe he shouldn't be in the country.
posted by musofire at 7:27 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

You are far more likely to be shot with your own weapon than to use it in self-defense. Not only that, and I am not your lawyer, in most jurisdictions, you may not use lethal force unless there is no clear escape route. Do not give in to the temptation that a gun gives you control over a situation. It doesn't.

Therefore, do not purchase the gun, especially on a whim. If, later, you decide that a gun is for you, do your research, find a weapon that is right for you and take a safety class. But purchasing a gun now with no training and no experience will harm more than hurt.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 AM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

Someone clueless and from another culture? Not AT ALL condoning this creep, just noting that cultural differences might factor here, at least in assessing this person's sanity.

I doubt this is clueless/another culture behavior given that she has told him no many times. It's more of obessive, creep behavior.
posted by stormpooper at 8:48 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Guys, lets forget about the whole gun discussion. It's starting to run off the tracks, and I'm not going to get a gun anyway. It was a knee-jerk idea that I even posted that.

Well she talked to the GM at work and he is calling the contractor and going to scare him real good. He will not work for them ever again and the GM supposedly has dirt on him re: immigration.

The locksmith is here right now too.
posted by robokevin at 9:40 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Someone clueless and from another culture?

In most non-Western cultures I can think of grabbing and trying to kiss a married woman after you've propositioned her would be looked upon as at least as serious an offense than it is in Western cultures.
posted by rodgerd at 10:57 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

[Folks, drop the gun argument yesterday.]
posted by cortex at 11:30 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks cortex
posted by robokevin at 11:34 AM on March 16, 2010

Call the cops and get a restraining order, but be aware that the cops will do nothing and restraining orders are utterly toothless unless there happens to be a cop around. Do it anyway to protect yourself in case of escalation, more than anything.

Then call the guy and tell him to leave your fucking wife alone.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:58 AM on March 16, 2010

Actually, if he grabbed her and kissed her against her will, that's a very minor form of sexual assault. So between that and the unwanted phone calls you may have enough for a restraining order.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:43 PM on March 16, 2010

Gift of Fear cannot be nthed enough. Gavin de Becker's discussion of how to deal with stalkers runs counter to our everyday manners and intuition, which is exactly why that expertise is needed. Get a copy today and read it cover to cover.

Do not engage with the stalker. There is NOTHING she can say that won't be re-processed by him into, "Aren't we putting on a great dog and pony show to fool my husband? Come ravish me later."

A reality-based person simply doesn't take "no" as an invite to make dozens of phone calls and invite themselves over. This is what police, courts, and experts like de Becker are for. Use them.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:48 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

A non lethal personal defense around the house can be as simple as a can of hornet spray. Shoots a HUGE stream of nasty petro-toxins about 20 feet. It will make someone reconsider their immediate path.
Plus, it's totally legal and easy to keep around the counter or by the bed.
posted by Pecantree at 8:14 PM on March 16, 2010

This person is a contractor. Inform the supervisor that the person is harassing your family, and ask that the person stop contacting your family in any way, and to not enter your property. Or send a registered letter. If there is further contact, restraining order.

In any instance where you feel your safety is compromised, the police are the appropriate call. It's their job to protect people.
posted by theora55 at 3:09 PM on March 18, 2010

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