Make him go away!
June 3, 2010 8:03 PM   Subscribe

What to do about an unpleasant person who keeps seeking me out on the internet / texting / emailing but who isn't breaking the law?

This is related to my last question about my mom. Her abusive, criminal ex-boyfriend won't quit contacting me and my husband via email, text messages, searching out old myspace profiles and other accounts we have. The only time it stopped recently is when he went to jail for a couple of weeks.

We have his phone number blocked from our cells after he wouldn't stop texting us (just calling us dirty names, texting nonsense like pictures of my mom). I blocked him from my facebook abs blocked his email from my gmail account (that just sends his emails to the trash and anytime I go to my trash I see that he is still emailing me). Just the other day he found my old myspace account and tried to friend me. I just deleted the entire account since I don't use it.

I am getting frustrated and this is causing me anxiety even though there are no threats in any of his messages. He had quite the criminal history, however, and I'm getting sick of feeling unsafe and concerned everytime he tries something new to contact us. Just tonight my husband was texted a invite to loopt from this guys number.

It makes me feel sick with stress to have to deal with this. I worry about him finding out where we live. I've never met the guy and he lives in a different state but again he isn't the most stable person. I thougt if we ignored him and didn't respond he would leave us alone but that isn't working (yet?).

Does anyone have any advice on how to approach this situation? I don't want to change my number and email, and I can't stop worrying what he's gonna do next.
posted by rainygrl716 to Human Relations (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Restraining. Order.

He is acting in a threatening manner and generally harassing you. Get the law involved.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:07 PM on June 3, 2010

You make it against the law by getting a restraining order.
posted by Nattie at 8:07 PM on June 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

There are some states that have laws against cyberstalking, so it could depend on what state has jurisdiction over this issue.
posted by inturnaround at 8:10 PM on June 3, 2010

Best answer: Her abusive, criminal ex-boyfriend won't quit contacting me and my husband via email, text messages, searching out old myspace profiles and other accounts we have. The only time it stopped recently is when he went to jail for a couple of weeks.

Keep everything. Do not delete anything. My sister's ex-husband would call her hundreds of times per day. He would send scathing emails to my family and send multi-page diatribes to my siter. This was enough to get a restraining order. Less than this will get you a restraining order. Tell them your concerns and show them the calls/emails/whatever. Even if he hasn't called you hundreds of times, you have a valid complaint. In the meantime keep ignoring him but save the evidence. Calling multiple times and calling you dirty names is harassment.

My sister just about went over the edge. I am so sorry you are going through this. Take comfort in the fact that he is not living in your state. Please ask the police what your options are. Keep your mind off of this as much as humanly possible and continue to seek support from friends and your husband. Basically, do fun things, continue to live your life and don't give this pathetic loser much thought.
posted by Fairchild at 8:18 PM on June 3, 2010

Best answer: Nthing restraining order. This sort of behavior is what civil orders of protection are designed for -- he is harassing you and making you feel unsafe. Get the law on your side. Most jurisdictions have made it relatively simple for individuals to get protective orders on their own, without a lawyer. inturnaround is right that not every jurisdiction allows for protective orders for behavior online, but AFAIK, all or almost all will allow you to seek a protective order for harassing behavior, which includes telephone harassment, which shoudl include the text messages. Google "order of protection in *your state*" to see what the law is where you live and to get the necessary paperwork. Then fill it out and get to court, ASAP. Taking control of the situation is not only the right thing to do, but it will also have the psychological benefit to you of not feeling so helpless and victimized.

BTW, you can try and call the police to file a complaint with them. Because he lives out of state, they may not do anything for you, but they might, and a police report helps when you're getting that order of protection. In the meantime, keep records of everything he sends you -- texts, emails, other attempts at contact.

posted by devinemissk at 8:21 PM on June 3, 2010

It would be pretty easy to find out the contact info for his parole officer and send some of the stalker evidence to him or her. Criminals on parole have a very short leash, and that would be an easy way to get it yanked hard. The standard of evidence is way lower than for actually going to court. After all, he is a known criminal.

Simply put, I'd have no patience. He thinks you are sheep and he's the wolf. It will not end without a hard slap-down. Do that using any of the fairly easy legal techniques available to you.
posted by Invoke at 9:26 PM on June 3, 2010 [6 favorites]

Also, is your mom safe? I would make sure of that as well.
posted by Vaike at 11:20 PM on June 3, 2010

I would read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. The entire book is on how to deal with situations like this. How long have you tried not responding?

On preview, I like Invoke's advice.
posted by emkelley at 8:51 AM on June 4, 2010

Actually, if he's continuing to contact you after you've told him to stop, he IS breaking the law. It's called harassment. He doesn't have to be threatening--many state laws include language like "harass, annoy, no purpose of legitimate conversation, alarm"--all of that applies to what he's doing, right?

Get a restraining order and go to his parole officer. By the way, because no one ever seems to spell this out, you get a restraining order through the court, not through the police. Start by googling domestic violence helplines in your area, or look for options in your local family court. The police only get involved once the order has been served and the offender has broken it.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2010

I think folks here are far too quick to suggest a restraining order where the poster says she has been "ignoring" him and hoping he'll stop without actually asking him to stop. That really is he next step. (unless thi was mDe clear in the previous question, which I didn't read. Send him an email letting him know that you hope the best for him but that you are not comfortable staying in touch with him and that you and your husband would like him to stop contacting you.

I'm not sure you can stop someone from trying to friend you on facebook as stalking. Maybe so but that would be news to me.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:29 PM on June 4, 2010

Very sorry for all the typos.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:30 PM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: We told him to stop contacting us through email very explicitly. I don't know if it's at the level to get an anti-harassment order against him, but we've had to block his number from our phones due to the number of text messages he was sending (repeated insults, pictures, videos). I think any attempt he makes to try to contact us at this point is definitely harassment, but given I don't know his address and only have his name, phone number, and email I don't know if I even could file an anti-harassment order. There might not be enough information and if I had to disclose my address and he had any way of obtaining that info, it would make me even more nervous.

Thank you all for the help, though. I am looking into my options. I hope this situation doesn't escalate beyond what it is now. It's been about 7 weeks of harassment so maybe he will get bored. Looking into his record, however, he does have order violations for restraining orders and that was one of the things that contributed to him being arrested recently.
posted by rainygrl716 at 4:10 PM on June 4, 2010

A copy of that email and evidence of further contact on his part is probably all you need. I didn't have my ex's address when I got a restraining order against him (I think they got it from DMV records), and there were two opportunities for me to keep my address a secret from him (he already knew where I lived, but just so you know--it's a very common concern).

A restraining order may not mean much to him but at least you know that he's been served before and broken them, which gives you the peace of mind you don't have when you're afraid that being served will make the person go absolutely crazy and come after you with a gun. If he's served and he breaks it, he goes to jail, and you get some peace. Rinse and repeat until he gets put away for a long time and/or gets the message.

Good luck.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:07 PM on June 4, 2010

Not having his address might be a problem, but the protective order wouldn't be worth much if it had to have YOUR address on it! You have the choice of putting your address on the order (and there are various reasons for and against doing so), but the key is that it is your choice. Speaking as someone who has helped clients get orders of protection (but, of course, I am not YOUR lawyer), that should be the least of your concerns.

See if you can get his address from someone -- or from the internet or the phone book or by doing a reverse lookup on his cellphone number. In most jurisdictions, all you need is a place where he can be reliably served with papers, so a work address would also suffice. In addition, since he's on parole, if you can contact his probation officer, you might be able to get his address that way. Also, if you call the police and file a complaint against him, they may also get in touch with his probation officer which could result in him being rearrested if the harassment violates the conditions of his parole.

FWIW, what you've described sounds perfectly adequate to get a protective order (at least in my jurisdiction, which is what I'm familiar with), particularly given his criminal record and his status as a parolee. Seven weeks of telephone and electronic harassment is actionable.
posted by devinemissk at 5:20 PM on June 4, 2010

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