How to live with someone you're afraid of provoking?
August 23, 2015 5:40 PM   Subscribe

How do you live with someone when you're not sure what might set off their temper? (Long term, hopefully you don't. But I mean, in the meantime.)

My roommate has always had a pretty mercurial nature, but despite this we got along pretty well. Apparently, too well, because a couple days ago he confessed that he had feelings for me, and did not take it well at all when I told him I wasn't interested. I tried to be gentle but firm, but... it was like he wouldn't even accept it. I'm a lesbian. Apparently he either doesn't believe in lesbians, or doesn't believe I am one? And even when I said it didn't matter if I was really a lesbian because I wasn't interested, he basically said that I owed him a chance because he felt so strongly about me. (Even though he acknowledged is never given him a sign that I was interested in anything more than friendship.) He also sent some texts that ended up getting fairly graphic sexually, and one that was vaguely threatening. (Well. What the threat was was vague. It was definitely a threat.) He quickly said that he was just joking (after I stopped responding) but I'm really shaken. Before when he's gotten in a mood, it's been self-directed, or at someone who wasn't there. (And it's never been like this. )

Now he wants things to return to normal, but I don't think they can. And I don't know what to do. I mean, move out, obviously, but what do I do until I can find a new place? I'm usually pretty good at de-escalating situations, but everything I said, no matter how nice or how blunt, seemed to make things worse. I feel like I don't know what will set him off. I have no idea how to act around him. I'm afraid if I act like things are normal, it's going to give him false hope and then he'll get really mad when he realizes I'm moving out, like I've tricked him. But if I act distant I'm afraid he's going to get mad again. I don't *think* he's going to get violent, but then I didn't think he was going to say things like that either, so there's this constant fear in the back of my mind that I'm wrong. Right now he just seems subdued and sad, and when I said I needed a little space he didn't push. But I don't know if something is going to set him off again.

Complicating stuff is that we work in the same field and have worked together on projects before. (Freelance stuff, so no HR or anything to involve). We have a project that's almost done (either one of us could finish it alone pretty quickly) and one we're scheduled to do in a month or so. And even if we don't work together on the project, it's a small town and I'll inevitably run into him. (Plus I'm not sure if he'd badmouth me to potential clients. .. I don't think so, but again, I don't feel confident about predicting his reactions anymore.) It would be nice if I could leave on at least a civil note, but I just... don't know how or if it's possible.

How do I act? What do I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (100 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow I'm kind of scared for you, reading this. And I feel like you wouldn't have posted it if there wasn't a voice inside you telling you to be scared too. Do you want us to tell you you'd be right to pack a bag and go stay with friends while you look for a new place? And only go back - to get stuff, to move, whatever - with a friend with you? Because that's what I think you should do.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:46 PM on August 23, 2015 [93 favorites]


It would be really helpful if you could have a mod update with your state / country. In my state this would likely be enough to obtain a 20 day protection order including a court order for him to find somewhere else to stay and police assistance in making him leave.

You are right to take this seriously. I would suggest at a minimum having him leave or finding somewhere temporary for yourself until it all gets sorted out.
posted by charmcityblues at 5:48 PM on August 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm scared for you too. Find another temporary place to stay - make up the reason why: friend in town wanting to stay with her, she is having a bad break-up and needs support, anything to not arise suspicion. Then just move out - don't give warning.
posted by Toddles at 5:50 PM on August 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think you should get out of there pretty quick. Like, within the hour. And only go back if there's someone with you. And don't engage with him - ignore his texts and only communicate with him in writing. Trust your gut on this one, it's telling you something's very wrong and you should believe it.
posted by yogalemon at 5:51 PM on August 23, 2015 [30 favorites]


I am so sorry you are having to deal with this! I recently was the recipient of threats from a neighbor and it was one of the most terrifying periods of my life. I can't imagine how upset I would have been if it were someone sharing my actual living space.

I agree that you should 1) go to court and see if you can get a protective order, including making your roommate be the one to leave, and/or 2) reach out to your landlord to see if his threats are enough for them to evict him. Either way, I would also recommend IMMEDIATELY 3) reaching out to friends and find someone (or multiple someones) to stay with until either he is permanently gone, or until you can find a different place to live.
posted by zebra at 5:55 PM on August 23, 2015


Guy is crazy and has a dangerous level of self entitlement. If I confessed my feelings to a friend and she said she was a lesbian, my response would be to laugh at my own bad judgement, not disbelieve her.

So the guy said, "watch your back" followed by "lol j/k"? GTFO, and warn all friends what is going on. Dump the project, he hates your guts now -- he only ever liked you because he saw you as a possible sex utility.
posted by benzenedream at 5:59 PM on August 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


he basically said that I owed him a chance because he felt so strongly about me

This is how women die, because men believe they are entitled to them.

If you have anywhere you can go, even if it's non-optimal as far as your preferred living style, work that angle.

It sounds like you're trying to negotiate with him about how he doesn't get to have you, and you need to just stop. You will be moving out, keep all communication to him limited to the absolute necessities and completely businesslike, and it would probably be for the best to not be alone with him again. If necessary, you can use the phrases "this is not a negotiation" and "you are not entitled to me" but don't expand on it, just repeat it. Don't ever be separated from your phone if he's around or might be around.

I'm sorry. This sucks. In a fair world, you could tell him he crossed a line and has to leave and then he would leave, but it seems unlikely to happen that way.

In the future, you just don't have anything to say about him that isn't 100% professional and noncommittal. Should he badmouth you or whatever, he'll be speaking volumes about his own character and most businesspeople will take that for what it is.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:00 PM on August 23, 2015 [40 favorites]


I'm concerned, too. I don't know your roommate, but what you've told us makes me think sexual assault could be a possibility. I'd suggest seeking help navigating things from your local domestic violence/sexual assault resource - chances are they could help with a place to move to, among other things.

Possibly even lie about where/why you're moving, and if it's absolutely necessary to complete the project together, do so in public locations or with others present?
posted by stormyteal at 6:01 PM on August 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hey, I'm going to follow up and explain why I think you're right to be scared - like, really scared. Maybe you haven't experienced the weird looking-glass world of male sexual entitlement before; or maybe since he's been a decent roommate other than this you're downplaying the significance. But this: he basically said that I owed him a chance because he felt so strongly about me. is where klaxons are going off. It is a classic starting point for male on female violence. And he's even threatened you already! Believe it. Really, I think you should get the hell out of there immediately, and only go back with someone else along.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:02 PM on August 23, 2015 [72 favorites]


If were you in my town, I would tell you get to over to my house right this very second. Get out of there.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:04 PM on August 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


There is a book called The Gift of Fear that is often recommended here. I went and got a copy when a friend had a threatening encounter and was trying to figure out how to deal with the lingering fear/hypervigilence. The message of the book is - don't ignore your own instincts.

It is likely that it probably won't end in a horrible fashion but at the same time you would be foolish to pretend to yourself that everything is OK.

I don't know if it is really necessary for you to drop everything and move out now. If you think you do, listen to that. But if you don't, you will probably both feel safer and be safer if you have a contingency plan in place in case the warning lights go from yellow to orange. Be prepared to walk out the door at a moment's notice. Do you need to keep cash, medication, an overnight bag in your car or your office? Do you have a pet to worry about? Do you have a place to stay (preferably one that he won't know about). Tell a few people in case you need to make a phone call - and not be afraid to call 911 (assuming US) if you need to. Caution is appropriate here.

Let us know what you decide.
posted by metahawk at 6:05 PM on August 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hi. You need to go crash at a friend's house tonight, and every night, until you move out.

Give formal notice. Do not be alone with him in your home. I think it is OK to meet in public places and/or with friends present.

This will probably end OK, but we could also end up reading about you on the Internet after some tragic and violent event, so you really really need to take precautions. Right. Now.

You should send him a kind but firm email stating that in light of his feelings, you are giving notice and will move your belongings out by x date, you will finish paying rent through y date, and you are terminating your professional relationship effective immediately.

TAKE SCREEN SHOTS AND DOCUMENT HIS THREATS. THEN, BLOCK HIM ON YOUR PHONE, ETC..

If I were you, I would have zero problem telling people IF ASKED that he threatened me and showing them the screen caps of the text messages, because fuck hiding his insanity and preventing him from facing himself, but whatever. You do you.

YES. You're going to have to tell friends you reach out to for help. I'm so sorry.

You sound very kind, but your roommate is dangerous, and you're not safe. Take precautions immediately. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 6:06 PM on August 23, 2015 [15 favorites]


Fingersandtoes is right. I'd meant to highlight that phrase, too.

Just because he's calm and sad right now doesn't mean he'll stay that way. Chances are, he'll regroup and come back with more reasons why you should give him a chance... and be even more convinced in his head that he can MAKE you be interested.

And if he uses any drugs or alcohol whatsoever, all bets are off and the risks really go up.

Don't wait and hope you can navigate this safely.
posted by stormyteal at 6:06 PM on August 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Walk away and go to anyone else. Like your mom or a sister or a friend. Just walk away and go to them.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:07 PM on August 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is really worrying, and I would avoid him as quietly and subtly as I can. I hope you have a friend who will let you crash at their place for a little while? the best immediate response would be to get yourself and anything that is important to you out of the apartment as soon as you can. Computers and pets should come with you, hopefully without him seeing that you are doing it, or with a good excuse that makes the movement not about him. "my cat seems sick I'm bringing her to the vet" or "sheila wants me to teach her photoshop so we're taking my computer over to her place to work tonight" I would just act like things are as normal as possible, while in reality getting out as soon as I could. The situation totally sucks and you have all my sympathy.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:17 PM on August 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm worried for you. You deserve to feel safe, and it makes 1,000% sense that you do not want to be living with this human being. At the risk of poorly-timed humor, I offer the following: "Get the fuck out of [there]." Ignore the man calling the little kids "idiots".

There are pork chop sandwiches and they are on fire. The kitchen is, metaphorically speaking, also on fire.

What he said and how he behaved were both way out of line. You are well within your rights to press legal charges, and well within your rights to find safe and comfortable (for you) housing yesterday. This guy doesn't get to dictate your emotional state, your emotional safety. Frankly, he doesn't get to dictate anything related to you or other human beings not him.

Are there friends with whom you could stay?
Don't live with coworkers if you can help it.

Also, in future it may be a good idea to not live with coworkers. I know it's a small town, but I am hopeful that there are better housing options for you there.

Also, fuck this guy and his homophobia, and fuck his sexist misogyny.
I'm so over the violence that passes as normative.
And I'm glad you are here, and I hope that you find a new place to stay.

As for work, it's work. You get to set way bigger boundaries at work because there are laws to protect you. It's harder to set boundaries with someone with whom you live, but of course boundaries still matter and exist in the latter scenario. Obviously, in one's home a person can't simply "leave work at work". So, I can imagine your discomfort right now. I'm so sorry that this is happening, but you will not be there forever.

There are also housing laws that protect you, and human, interpersonal laws to protect you.

Do what feels right and safest and best for you.
Reach out to the community around you.
Keep those text messages as evidence.
What he wrote to you was inappropriate and violent.

You did nothing wrong, and everything you are feeling is valid and real. You didn't make it up, you're not imagining the level of threat, and he did threaten you.

I want to reflect that back to you. It's not in your head.

Do what feels safest for you. Remember that there is no wrong decision. Anything you do is the best decision for you. Remember that you deserve to feel safe, always, and that you have choices and are not trapped. I know it's a small town, and still you have choices and you are not trapped. Both are true at the same time.

Remember that people care about you, and that you have resources and that there are people in the world who can support and help you. You are not alone.

Kindness and courage.
posted by simulacra at 6:19 PM on August 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, this guy is super creepy and gross. He knows you're a lesbian, but decides to confess he's in love with you anyway, and then expects you give him a chance? He sends you sexually graphic and threatening text messages on top of it? What. The. Hell. Do you have any family or friends you can stay with while you look for a permanent living situation? Finding an apartment can be tough, but if you commit yourself to it, you could have a new place in a couple weeks. I would not even risk sleeping in a house with this freak. Don't engage with him anymore at all. Avoid him. And I am very serious when I warn you to make sure this guy does NOT know where you move. Save all the documentation of his threats, sexual harassment, etc. as well.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:37 PM on August 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Criminal Threatening.

Technically, especially since you have the text message, this is Criminal Threatening. In my jurisdiction (pretty much all, actually) you can press charges. You could walk into any police department, swear out a statement, press charges, and have him arrested.

It's only a misdemeanor where I am. I'm just telling you how serious this is.

Last year (maybe 1.5 years ago?) someone criminally threatened me. It was a work situation. I kinda regret not pressing charges because I was violated. Yet, because this incident provoked me to GTFO of that particular professional situation and into a better one, I'm glad I did not press charges. Really glad. But I'm not in a small town. And my criminal threatener wasn't interested in sexually assaulting me, they just wanted to intimidate me for other reasons.

Threatening sexual assault might make this a felony? IDK. IANAL. Ditto since you are a lesbian, maybe a hate crime?? I mean, IDK.

I'm pretty sure threatening sexual assault (that's what he meant in context, right??) is very serious. Like I said, there are (usually, IANAL in your jurisdiction) actual enforceable laws against what he did.

That's just a data point if you are wondering if this is serious or not. That law is there because people who threaten often follow through.

Hopefully you are reading this from the safety of a good friend's apartment. Stay safe. Please update if you can.
posted by jbenben at 6:41 PM on August 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Woah, I am really worried for you. If there's no one you feel like you could reach out to, would you consider contacting a women's shelter or a similar facility? If you update the mods with a location, maybe we could help you find resources.

Please don't ignore your fear. Please stay safe.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 6:53 PM on August 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Go away immediately. Do not engage further, for your own safety. If you need cash to get through a time, memail me.
posted by odinsdream at 7:00 PM on August 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I agree with everyone above who is telling you to GET OUT ASAP but honestly if it were me I would invite over a dozen of my most aggro lesbian friends (and tbh picking only a dozen would be difficult) and drive him out with sticks.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:05 PM on August 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Peep this previous question on AskMeFi. Maybe it will be helpful?
posted by simulacra at 7:10 PM on August 23, 2015


Apparently he either doesn't believe in lesbians, or doesn't believe I am one?

The he's either an offensive idiot or a homophobe. Either way, you should no longer live with him any more.

And even when I said it didn't matter if I was really a lesbian because I wasn't interested, he basically said that I owed him a chance because he felt so strongly about me.

Fuck this asshole. You owe him nothing. This is a very scary thing for him to say. If he feels that he's 'owed' something, he may try to take it.

He also sent some texts that ended up getting fairly graphic sexually, and one that was vaguely threatening. (Well. What the threat was was vague. It was definitely a threat.)

NOT OK.

He quickly said that he was just joking (after I stopped responding) but I'm really shaken.

Listen to that feeling. He's saying and doing scary things. He's scaring you. Don't be near people who scare you. As everyone else has said, you need to move out ASAP, and stay with friends or family until you can.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:29 PM on August 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Get out. Stay with a friend or family member. If you need to get away from work to do this, take some kind of emergency leave. Do not be alone with him. Men who won't take no for an answer, and especially double no - you're a lesbian and also not interested - are dangerous, and this guy has threatened you and insisted that you "owe him". I would be very worried about physical or sexual assault in your shoes.

If you have a pet, get your pet out too. I would also take anything you are particularly attached to.

Move out ASAP. Do not tell him where you are going. Do not tell him what's going on in advance. Use discretion in talking to your landlord, because they may tell stuff to your roommate. Do not come back alone, and if you can arrange to move your stuff or have your stuff moved while you know he will be out at work or something that would be ideal.

Make like this is a horror movie intro, and run before the music gets started. This guy has already made clear that he does not respect your autonomy. Believe his threats, and be aware that nothing is "setting him off" - he's choosing to act a certain way, and from here his plan is probably to lull you into a false sense of security, do something terrible, and blame it on you.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:31 PM on August 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Nth GTFO now.

You actually can't anticipate how someone who behaves the way you described is going to react to anything. Unless you devote every living minute to dodging them, reading their moods (guessing, 2nd and 3rd and 4th guessing - getting it wrong, paying some kind of price, often. And the price here could be very, very high).

In the best case scenario, where you aren't injured or killed, and you do eventually learn to successfully dodge, prevent, acclimate to most tantrums, you become alienated from your self (mind, instincts, preferences), and your existence (in his presence and probably out of it) is reduced to performing for him, to object status. And it means living in fear. All the time. Best case scenario.

I know it's a small town, but no amount of money is worth dealing with this. You can find other people to work with.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:36 PM on August 23, 2015


Consider his prior behaviour, and ask yourself whether anything he said before this incident could have a worrying or threatening connotation. Often people miss things when they assume someone is joking, or they give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume they have misunderstood.

I think you should leave.

If you can't find a friend to stay with at short notice, try contacting a local women's refuge and ask for their advice. Like, let them know nothing violent has happened yet, but that your housemate is behaving oddly. They will probably be better at assessing the situation, with full details, and may know of alternative resources in your area, or accommodate, while you find a few flat to move to, or arrange for him to move out.
posted by Elysum at 7:42 PM on August 23, 2015


Everyone's advice is right - leave. Even if he doesn't follow through with the actual violence, he is consciously creating and thriving off seeing you afraid and intimidated by him. That's how threats work and why good people don't make them, or if they do in the heat of the moment, apologise hugely and take steps to repair the loss of trust.

His normal is "you're afraid of me and I can pull your strings and make you flinch for my power/sexual kicks and you won't tell anyone so I get to wear a Nice Guy mask".

Screw that. Normal is he's an asshole and abusive and you're smart and strong enough to get out safely and fast and won't let him pressure you into compliance.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:43 PM on August 23, 2015


You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:44 PM on August 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


About two sentences in I was ready to ask your location and offer an interim place to crash if you're nearby. Everyone on here has covered the details, but I still wanted to make the offer in case your smallish town is the same as mine. Check my profile, pm me if it's a useful offer.

(Wait, let me further reiterate a point made upthread: you owe him nothing. NOTHING. In my youth I fell for a series of not-out gay men. When I found out, I was sad and embarrassed and maybe asked for some space or walked back my friendliness to reassess and recalibrate. It wasn't fun for anyone, but it wasn't their problem to fix. Making threats, sexual coercion, thinking he deserves anything beyond the respectful honesty you've given is so far out of my experience that I can't model his future behavior, which scares me on your behalf.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:10 PM on August 23, 2015


Also, from the MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page: Additional Hotlines: Domestic Violence and Abuse, which includes links to worldwide resources.

Additional resources are linked at the MeFi Wiki Get a Lawyer page: Domestic Violence.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:15 PM on August 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Please call one of the domestic violence hotlines Little Dawn linked to. They can help you think through your options, which may include restraining orders or pressing charges or an emergency shelter, but more importantly they can help you see both the advantages and disadvantages of such options, given your unique situation and the resources available locally. They can also help you develop a safety plan in case you can't or don't want to leave right now but want some more concrete ideas of what to do if your roommate escalates.
posted by jaguar at 8:32 PM on August 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Leave because this is already scary and will get worse. There is no interim period here. Do not tell him where you are going. Take anything you highly value with you. Stay safe and away from him. Finish the project on your own so he had no excuse to engage with you. Never ever be in a non public place with him again. Like not even if he offers to walk you to your car.

Consider being forthright with clients: I no longer work with him because of his anger issues. I look forward to continuing our working relationship on your next project.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:38 PM on August 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oof, I had a terrifying roommate that I should have (and could have) gotten arrested before. I did call the cops on him after the second outburst. After the initial and second outburst my (now husband) stayed with me for a few days. Then I moved out ASAP! I also had like 4 other roommates so it was a little safer.

You should get out now.

Get a locking doorknob for your room!! You can pick one up at a hardware store and it's easy to install. Get one that you can use a key with so you can lock up your room when you leave. I wouldn't want to leave all my stuff without a lock on the door to my room - lest they get angry and trash your stuff.

I'm sure you should be able to talk to your landlord/police and get out of your lease when you're feeling unsafe. And this guy could go off at any second. The guy I called the cops on - people would laugh at his outbursts - like they were some joke. It's not. It's not funny. It's not safe.

Make an excuse like your friend needs help with their kids or something. Or they had surgery and they need someone to watch them. (Wisdom teeth, appendix, etc.) I also definitely wouldn't rule out calling an abuse hotline if you can't get to a friend's place (and for advice anyway.)
posted by Crystalinne at 8:39 PM on August 23, 2015


This is an update from the OP:
Thank you guys for all your concern. Especially for validating that I wasn't overreacting. So far in terms of people I've told the reaction's been about 50/50 in taking me seriously (and the person who thought I was overreacting was my mom, which kind of sucks. Though she's at least not trying to convince me to stay and will come up and help me move, I just get the sense she thinks I'm being overdramatic)

Unfortunately, I'm relatively new to the area (Missoula, MT for those asking) and don't know anyone who would for sure take me (and my cats, which complicates things) in. Most of the people I know are his friends. I've started meeting new people on my own (I actually think that may have triggered this, that I was suddenly hanging out without him, with people who he didn't know, and he felt threatened) but so far we're still at casual aquaintence level.
There is one person who I know I could go to in an absolute emergency, but she's about a day's drive away. (She knows about the situation, though, and I'm checking in with her daily in case things escalate.)

I stayed out of the house all day and called about housing (nothing concrete yet but it is a Sunday) and left the cats in my room. He called me tonight to apologize, to say how out of line he was, that my friendship is more important than anything and that he understands if I want him to leave me alone for a while, and he didn't push when I just thanked him for the apology and didn't say that I forgave him or anything. I'm hoping that this means that he's not an immediate danger, though I'm remaining wary. I can't forget the things he said or how scared it made me, and there's no way I can live like that just waiting for something like that to happen again. My plan is to avoid him as much as possible, be cordial but distant when I see him, and move out ASAP. If the calm doesn't last that long, I've got a bag in my car and know a couple pet-friendly motels nearby that do extended stay. I don't *think* he's trying to... lull me into a false sense of security or anything? My gut says he means it (right now. I also think he meant all those other things he said when he said them). Based on my past experience with him, I think he'll stay sincerely sorry and leave me alone for at least a few days to a week before expecting me to forgive him. But I am on high alert for if that changes. I'm going to keep my search and any attempt at packing surreptitious for now. I'm hoping to just present the move as a done deal once I'm already pretty much moved out. I'm considering boarding the cats, but I don't know if I can afford it and he would definitely notice their absence and get suspicious (and maybe angry). It's this exhausting calculation of what-if, what-if.

I'm keeping legal options in my back pocket as a last resort, and I'm keeping the texts as records, but I'm just too worried that anything like that will just set him off, and I'm not even sure if cops would take my side or just say "look, he says right here he was just kidding!" And I mean. .. if I get him kicked out and stay, he knows where I live. And then he'll definitely be mad.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:44 PM on August 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Abusive scary guys say they were just kidding All The Time. The cops know this.

Get out in these few days of peace. It won't last, and it's your best chance to get out of this unscathed. Extended stay motel is an excellent idea. Park your car where it's not visible from the road.

Do call the hotlines. They will help.

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I'm really proud of you for listening to your instincts and taking it seriously and getting out. Good for you! You can get through this.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:52 PM on August 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


And another from the OP:
Ack, pressed send too early accidentally. Wanted to also add I will call the hotline people linked to and see if they have any advice. I know you guys must feel like I'm that person in a horror movie and you're all shouting "don't go into the basement"! Except I'm already in the basement trying to get out, I guess. I promise I am taking this seriously and if I had anyone near I could stay with immediately I would. I am trying to get out as soon as possible with the options I have, and if it gets any worse at all I will leave regardless of what it costs. Thank you all again.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:53 PM on August 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


The National Domestic Violence Hotline website has information on safety planning, as well, that might be helpful.
posted by jaguar at 8:55 PM on August 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Missoula Montana, 14 rentals on AirBnB for under $50/night. Your life is worth $50/night. Go now.
posted by Toddles at 9:11 PM on August 23, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hey OP. I went to school in Missoula (where I called the cops on the crazy guy). Check craigslist, local coffee shops, place an ad for a quick room. Missoula people are super nice! Maybe even check for resources through the college (if you're a student, which most of the population in Missoula is.) There may even be somewhere you can sublet for cheap or find a couch to sleep on or Air BnB. Like I said, get a locking door knob. If you're by the college there's an Ace Hardware by the grocery store.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:16 PM on August 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


...he basically said that I owed him a chance because he felt so strongly about me.

...


...one that was vaguely threatening. (Well. What the threat was was vague. It was definitely a threat.)

Get the fuck out of there right now.

If you don't have friends to stay with while you find another place, please rest assured that the situation is already bad enough to warrant you going to a domestic violence shelter for a few days/weeks -- you don't have to wait until after he rapes/beats/tries to kill you before you can seek help.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:25 PM on August 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm in Denver Colorado. I don't have a car so I can't come up and get them, but I can take care of your cats if where to keep your cats is something that is keeping you there. My own cats can just fucking deal for a little while. I also have a spare bed.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 9:57 PM on August 23, 2015 [20 favorites]


I feel angry that this asshat is making your life so uncomfortable right now.

Bottom line is that you don't blame yourself for anything that is happening.
You never have to justify anything to anyone.
All you have to do is say, "Bye, Felicia," or just, "Peace."
You don't have to engage him.

You have a good head on your shoulders.
You are capable and strong and you are not "wrong" for "being in the basement" or whatever.
Just remember that this little asshat is a tiny blip on the larger trajectory of your life.
He does not matter.
And you do.

When you are out of the situation, you'll be able to reflect a bit more and feel into your feelings.
Right now, though, the fear that you are experiencing is a signal to find alternate places to stay in the interim of finding your longer-term spot. He doesn't have a right to know where you live. Ever.

This guy is not a friend. He's not even an acquaintance.
You will be okay.
Whatever you decide, you are making the right decision for you.

Again, you owe this guy precisely nothing. No explanations, no friendship, nothing.

I don't trust him, and instead of focusing on his motivations, focus on you. Focus on what you need. Focus on putting plans in motion and the steps involved in bringing them to fruition. The point is, nobody in your life is someone around whom you need to curtail your natural way of being in and moving through the world in order to avoid violence from said person.

You get to be you, all the time, safely, fully.

People care about you. He doesn't matter in this scenario.
You matter. Please take care of yourself, and I hope that you find ways to get space. Because your life and time are too precious, and you don't have time for people like this human being.

You are going to be okay. But seriously. That guy can fuck himself.
posted by simulacra at 10:18 PM on August 23, 2015


You are only guessing on the time before he reacts again. You could guess wrong. Go to the extended stay motel that takes pets. It's the easiest and quickest solution. Then you can find a place to go from there.
posted by Vaike at 10:47 PM on August 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


OP, I'm scared for you, and that's with your update. I'm going to add my voice to the others saying please take your cats and get out of there, to the motel if that's your only option. I read your update and thought, "I think he's trying to lull her into a false sense of security," and then I got to your line, "I don't *think* he's trying to... lull me into a false sense of security or anything? My gut says he means it (right now. I also think he meant all those other things he said when he said them)."

He definitely meant those things and still means them. He's lulling you into a false sense of security because he knows there's a small window where he might be able to get you to stay.

Based on my past experience with him, I think he'll stay sincerely sorry and leave me alone for at least a few days to a week before expecting me to forgive him. But I am on high alert for if that changes.

In your question you keep saying you can't predict how he will react, that you don't think he'll get violent but then you didn't think he'd threaten you either. Please leave. I don't think you can safely say he will not assault you, and his new behaviour and demeanour don't mean he is not planning to harm you.

Please leave. This is one of those situations where overreacting is preferable to underreacting, because the latter could leave you assaulted or killed.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:06 PM on August 23, 2015 [23 favorites]


Since people sometimes have a hard time advocating on their own behalf; what if something were to happen to your cats? And by happen I mean: what if he hurts your cats.
posted by Iteki at 1:06 AM on August 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


There's a YWCA in Missoula, and they have walk-in counseling services for people dealing with domestic violence and they also have a women and kids' shelter. I think going in and talking to someone there would be a good idea, in addition to calling the national hotline. Also, in addition to looking at AirBnB listings, you should look for stuff on CouchSurfing too.
posted by colfax at 1:31 AM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


When I was in my early 20s, I had a roommate who was a male friend. I had worked with him on projects at school. I was in another relationship. There was no question of anything romantic. We had dated once, briefly, years before that and had even made jokes about how good we were as roommates because we knew we weren't attracted to each other. .

As in your case, he started by getting jealous of my boyfriend, asking me why we couldn't have another chance, and finally insisting I had known "what we both wanted" when I moved in with him and becoming very angry and shouting at me. I went to a friend's house for a few days, but moved back in when he apologized and blamed it on stress. I let it go because we had been friends for years, because he seemed genuinely sorry for pressuring me, because we had a lot of friends in common and honestly just because I didn't want to make a big deal out of nothing. But during the period when I thought he was feeling sorry and being respectful, he was actually getting *angry*. Angry that I wouldn't sleep with him. Angry that I put him in this situation. Angry that I had somehow humiliated him by turning him down. I came home one night to find him drunk, and my dishes broken, and things escalated quickly.

I got away from that with a punch in the face (literally) and some broken possessions. But it could have been *so much worse*. Your roommate already went way too far by making threats. Take them seriously. Protect your cats. Protect yourself. You never know how far people will go.
posted by frumiousb at 2:16 AM on August 24, 2015 [36 favorites]


Upon reading your updates: GET OUT NOW.

Listen. You're in a situation where you're not entirely sure how dangerous someone may become. You can't predict what's going to happen.

It's entirely possible nothing will happen. Conversely, he may escalate.

My plan is to avoid him as much as possible, be cordial but distant when I see him, and move out ASAP. If the calm doesn't last that long, I've got a bag in my car and know a couple pet-friendly motels nearby that do extended stay.

I say this not with intent to scare you but this is your fucking reality: if he escalates, you may not be able to get to your car.

He has given you indicators that he is not stable. Do not give him a chance to escalate.

Be safe, get out now.
posted by kinetic at 2:51 AM on August 24, 2015 [15 favorites]


Use this contact information for the YWCA. The Humane Society maintains this list of shelters that accept pets or can help with fostering until you find stable housing. There is always the possibility it won't be up-to-date, but I would try that first.
posted by Sequence at 3:38 AM on August 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


OP, he is manipulating you. He has been since you've been involved. Nobody likes to hear they're in a bad situation, I'm really sorry you're being put in this spot. Take the advice above to move immediately even if that means leaving your cats. Memail several of the people in this thread who have offered financial assistance if that's a roadblock for you. Memail several people who can help you call AirBnB and craigslist places for short-term accommodations.

But move, right now. Stand up and get the hell out of that situation.
posted by odinsdream at 5:15 AM on August 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


OP, I am really scared for you and your updates did not make me less scared. Please grab your kitties and GTFO, drive to your friend's house and go back for your stuff with a bunch of people.

If you cannot do this in the next five minutes, have you considered looking into a restraining order? (IAAL but NYL and not in Montana but) in my jurisdiction there are two kinds of ROs and one with enhanced protections is available to people who share a house, regardless of the nature of your relationship. I think that if you took the text messages where he says you "owe" him (oh my god, who can even verbalized this??) and the threat AND the apologies (because abusers do this all. the. time.) to your local court, if they have an office like my jurisdiction does HE'S going to be the one looking at a night either on the street or in the pokey.

Yes, it might make him angrier, it might be scary, but I think if you do not leave this is necessary to protect yourself and your fur babies. Please don't spend another night under the same roof as this person and please, please update us. I am really worried about you.
posted by mibo at 5:19 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also please look at a local housing resource (check the law school for a clinic) for assistance. My jurisdiction passed a new law a few years ago that if a tenant is subject to abuse, threats or violence, the landlord must let them out of the lease. Also, maybe contact your landlord and lay the law down to help him or her get you out of any shared obligation with this guy asap.
posted by mibo at 5:22 AM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trust your instincts, erring on the side of caution.

What is your living situation? Apartments? get a LOUD whistle and/or an airhorn, and be absolutely willing to do SOS( the international Morse code distress signal (· · · – – – · · ·). Nobody knows Morse code anymore, but persistent weird noise gets attention.

I'd think about a restraining order. They don't make you much safer, if at all, but because you work in the same field, you might want to head off any jerk behavior.

Read The Gift of Fear. It's way better to be prepared or over-prepared than to be hurt. Sometimes people think I over-reacted, when their reaction is precisely what kept the bad thing from happening.

I'm so sorry you're going through this.
posted by theora55 at 6:30 AM on August 24, 2015


This is the eye of the storm and you have no idea how long it will last. Please take your kitties and get to a pet-friendly motel, then start calling the domestic violence shelter, Craigslist, etc. This dude is not stable, and as kinetic said, you may not have time to get to your car once he escalates.

You are not overreacting. Consider this: If a friend told you she was in this situation, what would you advise her to do? You sound like a kind person, and I think you'd tell her to protect herself and her pets and leave ASAP. Please don't talk yourself out of getting to a place of safety.

You'll be in my thoughts. I'm worried about you.
posted by virago at 6:30 AM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


He'd notice the cats being gone? I'm sorry to hear that your kitties got into some chemicals and have to stay at the vet's for monitoring. Perhaps they'll even need to be transferred to a facility at a nearby larger town, such that it would make sense for you to spend the night there, hence your packed suitcase.
posted by teremala at 6:51 AM on August 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


Ugh, I am so so so worried for you right now. I know this is not an answer to your question, but please update us if you can. I'm sending you and your kitties so many good thoughts.
posted by waterisfinite at 8:26 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


As the mother of a young woman myself, I am completely flummoxed by your mother's response. Be that as it may, would she come get you and your cats -- like, right now -- if you asked her directly?
posted by merejane at 8:30 AM on August 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


I also thought this WHOLE thing sounds like manipulation, that you're new-ish in town and he's taking advantage of that and trapping you by controlling who your friends are, etc..

I think you should utilize the YMCA and get fostering for your cats and a shelter if you can't afford the motel. DO THIS NOW.

- The police will escort you if you need help when you pack up/leave. Go into the police station and ask.

Look. I would ask for an escort even if my mom was there to help me move out. I think an abundance of caution is warranted.

Hey - update? I'm kinda worried you spent last night there. I'm hoping it is the last night you spend under the same roof with this guy and that you are safe now.
posted by jbenben at 8:33 AM on August 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


First of all, I can only echo those saying that his refusal to acknowledge your sexual orientation and lack of interest in him -- and the latter would be perfectly acceptable even if you weren't a lesbian! -- is squicky and gross, and the "he basically said that I owed him a chance because he felt so strongly about me" is both a load of unvarnished crap and also pushes matters over the top into danger territory.

I just wanted to highlight the fact that this:

He called me tonight to apologize, to say how out of line he was, that my friendship is more important than anything and that he understands if I want him to leave me alone for a while

...is classic abuser behavior. Abusers will say and do anything, even be apologetic, contrite and charming, when they sense that they've pushed someone too far and that they need to sucker them back into their trap -- and make no mistake, he's laid a trap for you. Notice he said "he understands if I want him to leave me alone for a while," not "if he's made you run away and never look back." He presumes you'll come back. Don't.

I just thanked him for the apology and didn't say that I forgave him or anything.

Good. Do whatever you need to do to get out of there, but get out of there.

You owe him nothing; you owe it to yourself to protect yourself. Count me among those here rooting for you.
posted by Gelatin at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, I'm relatively new to the area (Missoula, MT for those asking) and don't know anyone who would for sure take me (and my cats, which complicates things) in. (...) but so far we're still at casual aquaintence level.

If you were my casual acquaintance, and you called me and told me what you wrote in your post, I would beg you to come and stay with me.

Call two or three of the women you've met.
posted by citands at 10:03 AM on August 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm very far away from you and thus can't vouch for them, but the Western Montana Community Center, an education/advocacy/support/collaborative networking organization for the LGBTIQ community, may be a good source of information re: who to contact at the Missoula PD, who to talk to about housing, etc.

Their summer hours are weekdays, 10-4; phone: (406) 543-2224; email: wmglcc@gaymontana.org

I'm so sorry you're in this awful situation, and I hope the information in this thread helps you find your way out. Take care.
posted by virago at 10:43 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


FYI: In case you decide to get in touch with the Western Montana Community Center, the hours may be different than what's listed on the website.

According to the box that pops up when I Googled it, the center is open 10-1:30 today through Thursday, then 10-6 on Friday and 10-8 Saturday.
posted by virago at 10:49 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


You do not know this guy at all. Pack everything precious and go, go, go.
posted by Scram at 12:33 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I also think you should get out now. Every alarm bell is ringing like crazy. Don't leave the cats there and hope he doesn't notice - what's to say he won't notice your surreptitious packing and harm your cats?

I will literally pay for your hotel room in the place that takes the cats. I am serious. That's how strongly this internet stranger feels about how quickly you need to leave.
posted by bedhead at 1:52 PM on August 24, 2015 [20 favorites]


(I actually think that may have triggered this, that I was suddenly hanging out without him, with people who he didn't know, and he felt threatened)

Yes. He's trying to make sure you don't have other social contacts. He's trying to control you by isolating you.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:53 PM on August 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am a domestic violence survivor. I am TERRIFIED for you. I'll Nth GTFO.

I have friends and business contacts in Missoula. If needs be, I'd be more than happy to call each and every one of them at *checks watch* 3:15 a.m. for you, to help you get out. Please pm me if you need those phone calls made.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 12:15 AM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


it was like he wouldn't even accept it. I'm a lesbian. Apparently he either doesn't believe in lesbians, or doesn't believe I am one? And even when I said it didn't matter if I was really a lesbian because I wasn't interested, he basically said that I owed him a chance because he felt so strongly about me. (Even though he acknowledged is never given him a sign that I was interested in anything more than friendship.) He also sent some texts that ended up getting fairly graphic sexually, and one that was vaguely threatening. (Well. What the threat was was vague. It was definitely a threat.) He quickly said that he was just joking (after I stopped responding) but I'm really shaken.

It's not emptythought's story time or anything, but this guy seriously reminded me of people i've known or dealt with in the past. He sounds like a straight up fucking rapist, and that entire mindset and train of thought is one that this guy keeps fantastic company with. As in, the company of rapists and child abusers.

If you leave and nothing bad happened, then you were that person who walked out of the restaurant 5 minutes before the gas line exploded. This guy sounds fucking terrifying and i would be completely 100% not surprised if he had assaulted people in the past.

There's other stuff you wrote in here that set off serious alarm bells for me of this guy being an actual predator, but that specific part stood out. I'm happy i didn't get in here early, as i would have felt really hyperbolic, but holy shit i'm scared of this guy just from your description. And i'm not an overly paranoid person, or anything.

Something terrible is going to happen if you don't leave. That might sound overly definitive, but i've seriously never known of someone like this where it didn't later come out that they had assaulted multiple people.

Everyone here is right to just get out. I've walked out of far less shitty and scary of situations(but still crap) and ended up having very little beyond the clothes on my back for quite a while, and it was completely worth it. I'd sleep in my freaking car to avoid this guy, if it was me and it came to it. My advice would be to rent a motel room and call your mom. Whatever project you were working on with him is now just one you don't put on your resume/portfolio and... move on.

Worth noting, if you're on a lease and are scared about getting hit with the lease-breaking fees or back rent or whatever, file a police report about the threats and get a restraining order. In most places(as in local tenant law), and even with most leases, you will be able to break the lease with that stuff. I've known people who have done it, and it also happened(on the receiving side) at least once when my parents managed a large building.
posted by emptythought at 3:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Update from the OP:
Haven't read all the responses yet, but: took the cats this morning, along with some stuff. This morning at like 5am he texted me asking to talk, apologizing again, and wanting to talk when I got home, and the idea of talking to him- even to say "no, I don't want to talk right now" filled me with so much terror that I realized I really couldn't trust he wouldn't hurt them (or just take one into his room as collateral to keep me to stay. That, I 100% believe he would do if he had any idea I was leaving.)

No idea what I'm doing now. Except going to work with the cats in the back of my van, I guess? (I'll check on them to make sure they don't get overheated). Anyway. I'll catch up with responses when I'm not full of adrenalin, but I wanted to let you all know I'm out. Running was my first instinct when the whole thing went down, but I just... talked myself out of it. I think I was just. .. hoping to preserve some tiny amount of normalcy, you know? And it doesn't help that my mom (who's my main source of financial emergency support) just... doesn't seem to think it's possible he's dangerous. Like, the idea seems ridiculous to her. (Because he loves me, and you don't hurt people you love! MOM YOU WORKED IN DEPENDENCY COURT AND WERE A DIVORCE ATTORNEY WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT)

But yeah. Will read responses and see if I can't b figure out what to do in a bit, but right now I gotta calm down. But I thought you all would like to know.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:30 AM on August 25, 2015 [33 favorites]


Do show your mom this thread.
posted by JanetLand at 7:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah, seconding JanetLand there. I'm astonished the red flags here aren't getting recognition, given that this dude said flat-out he thinks the OP owes him the opportunity to date her.
posted by Gelatin at 7:51 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


You did the smart thing! Your life is already so much better than it was before you got out of there!

Here's a link to the YWCA of Missoula: YWCA. They have a 24 hour hotline, and links to several other resources.

I'm so, so glad you got out.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:17 AM on August 25, 2015


OP, is there any way you could bring the cats indoors in a carrier or something? Or leave them with someone? The temperature in Missoula is supposed to be near 90 today. Car interiors can reach 160 within 10-15 minutes at that temperature.
posted by lharmon at 8:18 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


I am also so glad you got out!

Sorry to mention something that could stress you out even more at this point, but the plan to maybe keep your cats in the van -- that sounds risky. I know you said you would check on them to make sure they don't get overheated, but my understanding is overheating in a closed vehicle can happen really, really fast.

Can you take the day off from work to deal with finding a place for you and your kitties? Maybe one of those pet-friendly motels, for a day or two until you are more settled?

On preview -- what lharmon said.
posted by merejane at 8:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh. Your mom. *shakes head*

Haha. I'm glad you're out and that you have a handle on that fact that your mom is under concerned given the facts.

5 am text messages? NOPE. I'm pretty sure someone who texts at 5am is strongly signaling they are unhinged. And dangerous. Wow.

Thanks for the update! I hope you access all the resources folks pointed you towards and everything turns out OK.

Reminding you not to go to get your things without a police escort. I'm serious.

Stay safe!
posted by jbenben at 8:22 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Don't leave the cats in the van! Never leave pets in a car in the summer! Please go take them to a pet boarding facility while you sort everything out.

There are people in this thread who have volunteered to help you financially if necessary -- please take them up on their offers and get your cats somewhere safe (a vehicle is NOT safe).
posted by Jacqueline at 8:23 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Because he loves me, and you don't hurt people you love!

What the actual fuck. This is a dude you're living with, and you're a lesbian, and your mom defends him by saying he loves you? What the fuck. Seriously.
posted by odinsdream at 8:30 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think your mom is doing the thing of, if you allowed yourself to feel scared it would be TOO scary.

Show her this thread, that may snap her out of it.

So glad you're out, but please don't leave kitties in the van.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 8:33 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Your mom really needs to read Missoula, by Jon Krakauer. But not now -- right now, today, she needs to help you and your cats.
posted by merejane at 9:31 AM on August 25, 2015


OP, I'm happy to hear you're out of there, and that you didn't buy in to your housemate's attempts to manipulate you and lure you back in by showing "remorse."

Now, to get your fur children settled and safe while you regroup.

1. A cats-only hospital and boarding facility in Missoula, Cats on Broadway, may be an option.

Here are more details (it starts at $10.50 a night, one cat per kennel, but there are all kinds of variations). Could your mom help you out with the cost?

Contact info: (406) 728-0022, open 7:30-5:30 weekdays, 9-12 Saturdays.

2. The Missoula YWCA's Pet Advocate Program provides foster homes for the pets of women staying in the Y's crisis shelter.

Volunteer pet advocates foster pets for up to 60 days, and the Humane Society of Western Montana provides food and vaccinations as needed.

The Pet Advocate Program coordinator is Lisa Bruce. Contact info: (406) 543-6691; lbruce@ywcaofmissoula.org; open 9-5 weekdays.

Even if you don't wind up using the YWCA's shelter, Ms. Bruce sounds like she would know other resources for housing your kitties while you sort things out.

Good luck. I'm rooting for you!
posted by virago at 10:23 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Just wanted to chime in with another huge cheer - I've been reading this thread with something of a sick feeling since it was posted, and am SO glad you decided to trust your own judgment and get yourself and your cats (who, yes, should definitely be somewhere other than a car) to safety. Your mom is deluding herself and I don't have a thing to say about that - you absolutely made the right decision.

Obviously this dangerous scumbag is going to keep pushing at you once he figures out what happened, so please be prepared for that. Remember that you don't owe him anything - not your attention, not "another chance now that he's realized just how wrong he was being" (ugh ugh ugh why does that always come up), not a word of explanation. He knows what he did. You are not overreacting. The police are a phone call away, the second you feel unsafe.

In the meantime, I hope you're having great success in finding a new place where you and your cats can be safe - you're doing great so far. I hope you'll continue to update with even better news!
posted by DingoMutt at 11:20 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


^^ Co-sign.
posted by Gelatin at 11:29 AM on August 25, 2015


^^Me too.
posted by virago at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2015


Oh my goodness. I'm so relieved you are out, OP!! I checked your question all day yesterday hoping for an update because I was so concerned. Wishing you the best as you find a safe place to stay and a cooler place for your cats today. We are all rooting for you!

Oh, and good for you for listening to your intuition when it went from "Should I go?" To "I need to get out!!"
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:57 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am so glad you are out. I've been worried about you since yesterday. Would your work be OK with you havig your kitties in the office if they are wrangled in large crate. That's how I move my Mr Kitty around.

5 am texts .... You may be out but I don't think a restraining should still be out of the question. And don't slow down to feel queasy about texting back even that you don't want to talk at all - feel free to block his number and never, ever talk to him again. Arrange to get the rest of your stuff with the landlord and a civil escort from your nearest friendly police department.
posted by mibo at 12:08 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Update:
Hey folks. I did end up taking the day off (which is for the best, since I was, as many of you brought up, increasingly unhappy about the idea of leaving them in the van), and a (female) co-worker offered me a place to crash for a couple of days. She can't take the cats, but they're safely boarded. Talked to my mom, who seems to believe me and while I still get the sense she doesn't really think there's any danger, she supports me following my instincts. Though she's weirdly invested in making this a Character Building Experience or something, trying to cast it in a positive light somehow? I think A Goofy Noble Elk is right in that it's probably too scary to admit that it's scary, especially since she can't physically come get me. Anyway. It was a little surreal, but she's helping with the cost of boarding and any stuff I can't afford with the new place when I find one.

He's texted me a couple of times, still apologizing. I almost wish he would go back to getting mad because at least I'd *know*, you know? That I was right, that I'm not overreacting. I don't want to respond; I don't want to interact with him ever again basically, but a lot of my stuff is still there and I'm afraid he's gonna mess with it if I just disappear for a week. Of course, he might do that even if I do respond. I feel so dumb for not packing more when I had the chance. Ugh.

Anyway. Physically fine, have a place to sleep for me and the cats, even if we're apart, emotionally exhausted and logistically in limbo. But I'm okay. Thanks, all.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:28 PM on August 25, 2015 [20 favorites]


He's texted me a couple of times, still apologizing. I almost wish he would go back to getting mad because at least I'd *know*, you know?

He knows he's in trouble now, that he isn't going to get away with it, and now he's doing damage control. He probably will slip eventually, which is why you need to not let your guard down.

I would definitely say get over there sooner than later to get the rest of your stuff, and it's up to you whether you text him ahead of time to tell him to stay away, or to warn him you're bringing a deputy escort (please do that, talk to the Sheriff's department too as they are sometimes the ones who do this rather than police).

I suspect in Missoula you could probably call a moving company and explain your situation and get one or two of their most substantial employees to come help you fast-pack and get out of there in an hour or two, but talk to the local law enforcement first. For multiple reasons - in a small town, there's likely to be at least one moving company that's all off-duty firemen and cops, so you might get a two-fer deal.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:43 PM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think your stuff is going to be just fine. And Yep, don't respond!!

Anything he could do from here on out is just bullshit. He threatened you. There's no going back from there. Even if he is on his best behavior for the next 50 years, he threatened you with violence. That is a HUGE boundary. It's over. There's no going back. Not between you and him.

You are doing him a tremendous kindness by showing so much courage in leaving. Do you know this? He needed this. He needed someone to respond swiftly and appropriately. You did it! You are AWESOME.

It is character building to walk out the fucking door and never ever give the threatener the time of day ever again, let alone sleep under the same goddamn roof with them. GEEZ. Your mom. *shakes head*
posted by jbenben at 3:43 PM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


You're amazing. It's so easy to doubt that you've done the right thing in a difficult situation, especially after the adrenaline drains. But, even though you've got details to attend to, I hope you are relieved and far less frightened.

It's SO hard to be your own advocate. You're doing beautifully!
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 3:53 PM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


So glad you got the heck out of there.
posted by simulacra at 5:01 PM on August 25, 2015


Well done.

He's texted me a couple of times, still apologizing. I almost wish he would go back to getting mad because at least I'd *know*, you know?

He threatened you with violence because you wouldn't date him. You DO know.

I don't want to respond; I don't want to interact with him ever again basically

You don't have to respond to his texts. You owe him nothing, zip, nada.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:10 PM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


OP, you listened to your instincts and you made the right choices in a very, very unsettling situation. You're doing GREAT!
posted by virago at 5:30 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU. Good work! You are going to look back at this and be so proud of yourself. Thank goodness for your co worker. He's an awful person and put you in a shitty place, and you have every right to be mad as hell at him. And I get what you mean about wanting to Know. But I'll tell you from experience, that feeling only goes away when you get assaulted. And then you feel stupid for not getting out before that happened.

So, I'll join the chorus: You already know. You don't need any more resolution. 5 a.m. boundary pushing text message is all you need to know. That's escalating behaviour, sleep deprivation, and showing you that he can control you. Well, you have news for him!
posted by stoneweaver at 6:17 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


OP, I'm really glad you and your kitties are out.

The Jon Krakauer book mentioned above is really interesting and also makes me think its especially worthwhile getting the police to help you get your stuff. I think a lot was learned from the events in the book and a quick glance at their website is heartening, I haven't seen such detailed info as this on many sites. I'm very glad that it hasn't escalated to that for you but seems like they'd be glad to support the action you've taken to prevent worse.
posted by kitten magic at 6:22 PM on August 25, 2015


I'm so glad you and your cats are out. Take the advice about getting an escort to get your stuff and don't take chances. This guy is scary.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:05 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Call the police when you decide to get your stuff out of the house. Say you need an escort, and explain you were threatened.

I had a former landlord(once again, not emptythought story time but he snuck in to my house to and went through/stole things and was violent/aggressive) threaten to beat me up and kill me when i abruptly moved my stuff out, after i told him it was none of my business i was moving.

I went outside to get my bearings and make some calls, and there happened to be a cop eating lunch in his cruiser who was happy to walk in with me and... keep eating his lunch, but basically stare the guy down and make sure nothing stupid happened.

My biggest takeaway from that was in any similar situation in the future, i was calling the cops while i was on my way over and waiting in the vehicle(or if i was on foot, in a nearby shop or something) not directly in front of the place until they rolled up.

The guy went from calm professional landlord guy to screaming spittle launching veiny headed rage demon almost instantly, and i really feel like that could happen here.

You may have to wait for a second or even third cop to show up because, and keep this in your head if you're thinking "oh i can just bring a friend it wont be that bad!", domestic disturbance calls or anything that's even a potential DV situation are statistically some of the most dangerous police calls. It's generally protocol for them to have more than one officer present before they'll even go in.(i've also been present for some minor, like roommate shoving match and someone calls the police because it was dumb as hell, they still did that).

I would not under estimate this as something you can handle with your friends. Friends are good for moving the stuff, or for places to go. This is not something you want to handle solo, or just with friends. I know i'm restating myself, but seriously, leaving a fucked up situation is often the most dangerous part. And if it gets shitty when the cops aren't there, it's going to feel like it takes them decades to get there.

It's also worth noting that i'm a "fuck calling the cops" sort of person in general but this is a situation in which it's absolutely warranted.
posted by emptythought at 12:02 AM on August 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


Good for you! I'm happy to hear that you're taking control of the situation. Control is at the heart of his problem -- it's why he said you "owed" him a chance to date you because of his feelings (and while everyone is quite correct that his threats of violence are a bridge too far, I'd also assert that his declaration that you owed him a chance to date you was way over the line as well).

Of course he's apologizing. Of course he's trying to create doubt, so he gets the benefit of it. He does not deserve doubt -- he showed you exactly what he's about, and it is in no way acceptable. Do go get your stuff as soon as you can and do have a solid escort, because I doubt he will keep up the lovey-dovey act forever, once he realizes you won't let him control you.

You're getting excellent advice in this thread, and you're showing enormous strength of character. I'm so happy things are moving in a good direction for you and hope it keeps up.
posted by Gelatin at 5:00 AM on August 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm so glad you got out of there. He's doing exactly what abusers do when the person they're abusing threatens to really leave: the abuser backs off and acts sweet again until the person decides that they were overreacting and wrong and often, as soon as the person decides to stay, the abuser escalates their abuse even more, because they are so angry at being disobeyed, disrespected, etc, whatever twisted story they're telling themselves. I tell you that not because you're in an abusive romantic relationship with this dude, but because I think it helps to know that it's a well-known pattern.

You did a good job by trusting your instincts and getting out of there. Don't trust any sweet or apologetic things he says or does in the next couple of days as you get ready to move out of there. I think there's a very good chance that he will try to wheedle you into staying and act all contrite and apologetic up until the moment he realizes that you're truly leaving. So I think it's a good idea to talk to the cops and get an escort back into your apartment while you pack up the rest of your stuff and leave.
posted by colfax at 2:47 PM on August 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't trust any sweet or apologetic things he says EVER.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:07 PM on August 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Glad you got out, I was worried. memail me if I can be of any assistance (financial or otherwise) from this distance.
posted by frumiousb at 10:30 PM on August 26, 2015


I'm glad you got out. I got online tonight just to see if you'd updated. Listen to these guys - take law enforcement with you to get your stuff - and don't look back.

You did the right thing.
posted by stormyteal at 12:52 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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