Abusive Father Turned Stalker
November 3, 2015 4:24 PM   Subscribe

After twelve years of silence, an abusive father has been aggressively trying to get in touch.

He is being the most aggressive through social media. Every time I block him on Facebook, he somehow gets another "friends" request sent through. I have blocked him from all my email addresses, and phone number. He stops by my workplace every couple of months. My coworkers are aware I do not want to have any contact with him, and he does leave after they tell him to. I have told him to leave me alone, and that any and all communication is unwanted. He claims to have recently experienced a health scare, and that it has prompted him to suddenly want to get in touch. He insists that I have to make things "right with him", but has not made any actual threats towards me. However, while trying to get in touch, he has also sent letters, emails, and Facebook messages denying any past abuse. I don't care what he thinks, or that he wants to deny actual history, but I want him to leave me alone. What to do?
posted by LilithSilver to Human Relations (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know people who changed their name to first and middle on Facebook for this reason.
posted by sweetkid at 4:25 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get a restraining order! He's stalking you. I hope the local police aren't too blinded by sentimental crap about familial relations. Your local domestic violence program might be able to help you.
posted by mareli at 4:31 PM on November 3, 2015 [23 favorites]

Based on the past abusive history, and current harassment/stalking behavior, you should be able to obtain a restraining order. There might be some expense entailed, but it's really what you need to do. Persuasion or ultimatums are not going to work.
posted by beagle at 4:32 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

He stops by my workplace every couple of months.

This is 100% restraining order territory.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:33 PM on November 3, 2015 [44 favorites]

+1 on the restraining order, and stop responding to him in any fashion -- any evidence that you are paying the least bit of attention, even very negative attention, is encouragement in this sort of scenario.
posted by kmennie at 4:37 PM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Get a restraining order. While you're in that process, the second he shows up anywhere, call the police. Do not talk to him. Continue to block him on social media. Restrict everything on your profile to "friends only". Filter the emails to go straight to another folder and don't respond to them (I would say trash but you may want them for the police.) Google yourself and see what shows up and see if you can remove or block any of it.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:41 PM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Domestic abuse charities or services are likely to be a good first port of call for signposting towards a family lawyer practising in domestic abuse. Depending on where you are in the world, you may be able to obtain legal aid. As others have said, a court order sounds wholly appropriate based on the information you have provided.

I would not, drawing on my experience (limited to England, of course, but I think generalisable to some extent) recommend relying solely on contacting the police yourself, but rather get a lawyer to apply for an order that will compel them to assist you. You should not leave yourself dependent on some random cop's opinion of the seriousness or appropriateness of your reports.
posted by howfar at 4:42 PM on November 3, 2015 [17 favorites]

See the excellent MeFi Wiki Get a lawyer article.
posted by XMLicious at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Consider getting off Facebook or any other social media where he can track you, or otherwise obfuscating information (i.e. friends-only contact or name changing) so you cannot be reached.

Also, if possible have your workplace make it clear he is not welcome there. You don't need to put up with 1 second of him.
posted by Strudel at 5:02 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I know a couple people who have dealt with this, and know at least one person who works in social services.

You want to go to a DV shelter/charity and talk to them. The exact mechanics of laws on this stuff vary quite a bit from state to state and even sometimes city to city.

The lawyer thing is potentially a good call, but a shelter might be able to connect you with someone who can walk you through just getting a restraining order. Friends of mine have walked to the courthouse, paid the fees, and figured out the paperwork themselves. It's not always something that needs a lawyer.

For now, screenshot and save all the contact via social media. A friend was really helped by that and it's her first piece of advice now. The police ended up being interested in seeing it later on as well.
posted by emptythought at 5:02 PM on November 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

If you work for an organisation large enough to have a security department, talk to them. I had a coworker who was scared that her ex might turn up and our head of security was super helpful and gave her a plan for if he did appear at her office (since our workplace is fairly accessible to the general public).
posted by kitten magic at 5:26 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

My workplace has been really great. I have no fear when I am there, because there are several coworkers ready and able to run interference whenever he shows up. He never gets to see or speak to me. I am, however, very worried that he will start showing up at my home. One of his latest communications implied that he knows where I live. The wording was something like, "I'm in the Capital Hill area of town. I want to see you."
posted by LilithSilver at 5:36 PM on November 3, 2015

> The wording was something like, "I'm in the Capital Hill area of town. I want to see you."

What. No. So not okay. This is well into restraining order territory.
posted by rtha at 5:38 PM on November 3, 2015 [16 favorites]

Is there a reason, given your fear, you are not responding to the advice to get a restraining order?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:38 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're in the US, unless your jurisdiction is very unusual, restraining orders are granted by JP's / Judges, not the police.
posted by 1066 at 6:15 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am not sure where you live and you should talk to an expert, of course. I am not your expert, of course. A few thoughts:

Visit the Stalking Resource Center Help for Victims page. the SRC is a great resource.

Start creating a stalking incident log if you have not already (more details on the SRC page) but things such as date, time, location, what occurred, witnesses, etc. Print copies of online messages/take screen shots/etc. if there is any risk of losing them. If you do want to pursue a Civil Order of Protection (the name of an order of protection varies by jurisdiction). There may also be enough for a criminal course of stalking conduct. Have you/do you want to engage with law enforcement? That can be very challenging on stalking cases - law enforcement does not always take it seriously.

Some people recommend not cutting off a phone or account but leaving it open to gather evidence/allow the person to continue reaching out - and then get another phone that you use, account, etc (and do not use your name, etc.). Sometimes, and this is not true for all people engaged in stalking behavior, if a person believes they can no longer reach you through a particular means of connection (phone, email address, account), they then escalate or move to another method. Important note: It is never your fault if they do so - but good to be aware of that this may occur.

The social media piece - experts hear all the time that survivors/victims need to "get off social media completely" to stay safe. For some people this may be true. But the reality is that we live in a world that is becoming more centered around social media, and cutting yourself off from that can be incredibly isolating (this is even more the case in domestic violence situations, where isolation is often a tactic of abuse). There are ways to make yourself "more safe" (aka harm reduction) online - and there are experts who can help you through that process. Especially given the threats related to coming to your home, I would absolutely recommend you engage in safety planning. There is a resource on the SRC page but it is best to go with a trained expert on this one. The problem is that most "hotlines" are devoted to intimate partner violence - but that could be a good starting point for local resources - beyond what you find on the SRC page.

I am so sorry that this is happening.
posted by anya32 at 6:36 PM on November 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

The restraining order is spot-on.

As for the facebook issue, can you create a fresh facebook account with an obfuscated name? If you lock down the privacy settings, make sure your profile pic isn't your face, and delete any friends you add on the new account from the old account (so he can't see you as a "friend of friend"), he should be severely limited in his ability to find it. You can leave the old account up so that he doesn't suspect anything.

Even if you don't want to go that far, one easy thing you can do is stop deleting his friend requests. Just leave them sitting there - facebook pseudo-notifies you when somebody has deleted a request by making the friend request button accessible again from their page, so he knows you're responding in some fashion. Just leave them in a black hole of always ignoring without responding.
posted by zug at 9:04 PM on November 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

Even if you don't get a restraining order (it's not always easy, or the right choice; your local domestic violence shelter might be a good resource for talking through your options), you may want to call your local police agency or sheriff and explain what's been going and that you're worried he's going to show up at your home, and ask if they can note that. The local law enforcement agencies here, at least, can flag or put a note in their database connected to an address, so that if someone calls and says they're being harassed or threatened, the responding officers can see the background info -- I have no idea how common that ability is, but I know that at least two different agencies (one sheriff, one PD) have that ability where I live (and have been happy to do that for me).
posted by jaguar at 9:05 PM on November 3, 2015

I don't know if I explained that super well; the idea would be that law enforcement would prioritize a phone call about your address (whether it came from you or your neighbors) because they'd understand there was a larger threat than might appear to be the case.

And on that note, if you're comfortable letting any of your neighbors know what's going on, that might be a good safety net, too. You could let them know to call the police if they see him.
posted by jaguar at 9:08 PM on November 3, 2015

The problem is that most "hotlines" are devoted to intimate partner violence

I respectfully disagree with the concern that "most hotlines" may be unable to assist, because it's not true - anyone calling can get help with safety planning, emotional support, advocacy and referrals. ThereIsHelp [MeFi Wiki] for domestic violence and abuse.

I also suggest speaking with an attorney to find out more about your options [MeFi Wiki], and monitoring your credit report, and changing your passwords regularly.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:14 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you sent him a letter or email explicitly telling him to leave you alone? In this case, I would have a lawyer do this. If he continues to harass you, then you have an easy case for a restraining order, which may help, or not. Make sure you have good locks on your car and home. And, yes, a domestic violence agency should be your best resource.
posted by theora55 at 11:52 PM on November 3, 2015

When you get the restraining order make sure it covers everything, so he can't claim something like "order said no Facebook but I used Instagram"
There is a weird thing you should document.
My friend had a restraining order against her ex. When she was telling the judge about receiving an email or Facebook message, the judge was concerned about when, and where she was when she read it. So note that info.
posted by Sophont at 6:14 AM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

You may find this previous MeFi post about estranged parent forums helpful in organizing your thoughts on how you want to proceed.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 7:11 AM on November 4, 2015

The following is advice from my SIL's lawyer when my brother started to,harass & stalk her after they separated.

The keeping notes & restraining order is the first thing, as others have covered. You need evidence in case things esculate, hell you might need it just to get the order. Start gathering it & storing it someplace/s safe.

Do not respond in any way, even a negative response is a response, if you give him some sort of response even one time you just encourage him to keep trying even harder the next time. Don't delete friend requests, don't respond to emails or texts, you do not want to give him any sign you exist or are seeing his attempts to contact you.

When he turns up to your workplace have your workmates say as little as possible, except excuse me Sir you'll have to leave etc not that you don't want to see him, because now he knows you know he turned up.

Expect an escalation of attempts for a while as you start to push back with the restraining order etc.

None of this is your fault.
posted by wwax at 7:31 AM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Did you see this post?
posted by mareli at 8:20 AM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

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