My ex boyfriend won't leave me alone. What should I do?
December 19, 2017 1:06 AM   Subscribe

I broke up with my boyfriend a month ago. He won't leave me alone. What should I do?

I was in a relationship with this person for about 18 months. The last 3-4 months were rough and I kept debating on breaking it off. We had a big fight about a month ago and I finally broke it off. Now he won't leave me alone. This was a LDR. He lives about 450 miles away from me.

I have told him numerous times to leave me alone. He actually drove all the way here on Friday and showed up at my house. He wanted to take me to lunch which I refused. I was too afraid to go anywhere with him. I did speak to him for about an hour and then he left. He said he felt better and that he had closure. He told me to please unblock him on my phone which I did. I regret that now. He kept texting me and acting nice. Then he started asking me if I still loved him. I told him I didn't want to be with him and I think it's best that we don't have any contact with each other for a while so we can both move on.

He started acting crazy again and telling me he loved me and that he would change. I told him I don't want to be with him. I want to be single right now. I blocked his number again and he has called me from 3 different numbers tonight. I have declined and blocked all those. He has sent me emails to both my personal and work email addresses. I blocked him on that too.

I don't have any social media but I am on a streaming app. I go on there daily and he has made usernames on there to try to talk to me. I keep blocking him but he keeps making new accounts.

I am getting a bit afraid of what he might do next. He has turned psycho. I've never had this happen before. Whenever I've broken up with someone in the past, they have just disappeared and we went our separate ways. This dude is not giving up. I'm afraid he'll show up at my house again. I have family living with me right now so at least I am not alone. What would you do in this situation? I live in Pennsylvania and he lives in Illinois. Can the police do anything for me?
posted by Nicole21 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, go to the police (effectiveness will vary between different jurisdictions and individual officers, unfortunately) and get yourself a copy of The Gift of Fear. Let people you trust known what is going on too. Follow the advice in the Gift of Fear, sadly your situation is so common we know it has the potential to escalate.
posted by saucysault at 1:22 AM on December 19, 2017 [32 favorites]

Immediately cease all contact with this person and start documenting any contact he attempts from this point forward. Buy a notebook and document all the usernames and attempts to contact you on the streaming app, via phone call, online, in person, etc. Also write a summary of what has happened so far with as much detail as possible--dates, times, etc. Print out copies of communications. Inform everyone you deal with regularly that you have a possible stalker and tell them not to share any information with anyone about you unless they have a badge. Contact the police.
posted by xyzzy at 1:24 AM on December 19, 2017 [22 favorites]

Here's a brochure regarding stalking and state laws from the PA coalition against domestic violence.

You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline via online chat or 1-800-799-7233 who I'm sure can give you good guidance on handling the situation.

Definitely contact the police & start establishing a record of his behavior.
posted by gennessee at 1:37 AM on December 19, 2017 [17 favorites]

You are right to be afraid.

(1) Stop responding. (Sounds like you're already doing this, but just to reiterate: you are going "no contact" forever, not just for a while.) He wants contact with you, so every time you respond, you are giving him what he wants. He just learned that if he drives 450 miles to Pennsylvania, he gets to speak to you for an hour and then you'll unblock him on your phone. So it's reasonable to expect that he'll do it again. If/when he does, do not open the door to speak with him. CALL THE POLICE. Since you live with your family, you need to inform them of the plan.

(2) Start documenting everything. Go through your phone and write down every time that he called you — a list with times and dates. Screenshots of your recent calls, text messages, emails. Print out copies of everything. Save voicemails too. Tally it: how many times has he contacted you after you told him not to?

(3) Look into getting a protective order. I don't know Pennsylvania law regarding protective orders, and I'm not inclined to speculate because states vary significantly with their requirements. I'd be wary about advice from internet strangers who haven't got Pennsylvania-specific experience. Instead, I'd look for a local group or local chapter of a national group that provides resources for victims of domestic violence. A group like that should have information on the specifics. Check out the suggestions by gennessee. And do it immediately — not this weekend, not after you hang out with your friends this evening, but now. Spend the money for an attorney if you need to.

The protective order is the other reason you need to stop responding to this dude entirely: you can't give him even the slightest leverage to twist this into some bullshit "but Juuudge, look, we just talked and everything was okayyy." (And you don't want some idiot judge who doesn't understand stalkers to say that you're sending mixed messages or some bullshit. It's awful that we have to plan defensively for misogyny in the justice system, but we should.) Nope. You are 100% consistent in your message: Leave. Me. Alone. Forever.

(4) Notify the necessary people about this. Make sure that friends and family know not to give out your information to anyone. Consider changing your number altogether. Notifying the police (either in your town or his, or both) even before you seek a protective order would depend on a number of factors is worth serious consideration. They *should* be helpful ... if they're competent.

(5) Purchase and carry pepper spray (if it's legal in your jurisdiction, which it probably is). Carry it with you everywhere in your pocket. It needs to be within reach at a moment's notice, not forgotten on the passenger seat of your car or buried in the bottom of your purse.

(6) Read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker immediately. It's an oft-recommended book here on AskMe — and rightfully so. (Just seeing on preview that saucysault beat me to it!)

Source: I've been there. I was so embarrassed at the time to ask for help. But I did, and looking back years later, I'm proud that I did. These are the best practices for a reason. They worked for me.
posted by Peppermint Snowflake at 2:16 AM on December 19, 2017 [80 favorites]

Yes, you can get a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order in Pennsylvania against an ex-boyfriend. I don't know if you have to have been living together. The details of how to file will depend on the county, but you should not need an attorney. In the small county where my friend works, you go to the courthouse and either she (the county law librarian) or Women's Services will interview you and write up the order for a judge to sign. If you can't find information for your county online, call the courthouse. A PFA would allow for the police to arrest your ex-boyfriend if he showed up in person again. (Of course if this happens and you feel unsafe, call the police regardless. A PFA is most useful as a deterrent.)

IANAL, let alone alone in PA. This is just my understanding from my friend's explanations. It's something she takes seriously, but definitely the most depressing part of her job.
posted by serathen at 2:32 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't have much to add to the above very good advice - just wanted to stress that when you're notifying the necessary people, that includes your coworkers. Tell whoever answers the phones and the door at your workplace that you have a potential stalker and they should not give out any information about you, not even confirming whether you work there, and no matter who the caller/visitor says they are. You might also warn your friends and coworkers that your ex might try to get in touch via their social media, and to be careful there.

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this and I hope it's over soon.
posted by daisyk at 2:34 AM on December 19, 2017 [23 favorites]

Before you go non-contact, send him a very short but specific email telling him I have ended our relationship. Do not call me. Do not come to my home. Do not contact me in any way. Then block his email, phone and anything else. There will be a family violence organization in your area; there's always a section of the paper phone book listing community resources, or your library can help you find them, or the police. This is their area of expertise.
posted by theora55 at 5:37 AM on December 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Great advice above, I'd just add that I've had good results by spelling out to the person that you are recording their messages and will be contacting the police regarding the harassment.

Can you change or delete your profile on the streaming app? I would obviously block him on the phone too and possible change your number.
posted by lafemma at 7:27 AM on December 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

Depending on where you work and if you have an HR department, you may want to notify HR as well as your coworkers. It's possible he could escalate to trying to get information through official channels at your company. It's also possible that once he realizes you're truly not going to respond to his contact attempts he will try to ruin your professional reputation or get you in trouble at work otherwise. It's also entirely possible this won't happen, but, best to be prepared, so have a conversation with HR and make sure your employer knows about it on an Official level beyond quiet words to coworkers.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:52 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

If he threatens suicide call 911
posted by brujita at 8:00 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't know what the current "best practices" are as far as whether you explicitly tell him yourself to stop contacting you, have someone else do it, or just ignore him, but that would be a great question to ask a domestic violence organization.

What you do need to do now is disappear to the extent that you are willing and able. Go over the top with this now, and maybe you can nip it in the bud. If you can move, move. If you can shut down your account on the streaming app, do that. And if at all possible, change your number now and guard it very very closely. Make sure everyone you give your new number to knows not to share it, including with contact scraping apps on their phones, because that's how a lot of people's private, unlisted numbers and addresses and so forth end up in online databases. This is super difficult to do, because a lot of people don't realize the tools they use are doing this, and will be very dismissive of your requests.

Alternately, I haven't tried the paid version and am not entirely sure how the phone masking works, but this tool provides the option of providing masked numbers, so rather than giving anyone your real number, you give them a unique masked number, which you should be able to track, and probably block, in case someone gives it out. (Again, I haven't used that specific feature, so I'm not positive how it works.)

Tell everyone you can what's going on as well. There is a chance that, if you move and change your number and otherwise disappear, he might show up at your workplace. This sucks a lot, and I'm not going to lie, it can damage you professionally, but I don't know a good way around it. A lot of people are really freaking sloppy about things like this and might just give him your new information if they don't know to be on lookout for him.

And call the police if he shows up or attempts to contact you again. You need to cut him off completely as soon as possible, and be as difficult to find as you can become, and just hope that he gives up.

Good luck, and I'm really sorry this is happening to you.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:49 AM on December 19, 2017

Oh, a couple things I forgot:

You may want to get a security camera. Make sure you secure it so you're just not putting a livestream of your home out on the internet. If you have an old phone or tablet you aren't using, there are security camera apps that you can use to repurpose them. The only downside is that you either have to leave them plugged into a charger or the batteries die. But especially assuming you can't move, you probably want to watch to see if he's skulking around.

And I kind of alluded to this, but it's important: Some people are going to be dismissive and argue with you because they think they know better. And those people will fuck you right over without a second thought. If someone acts like they think you're being silly or you're asking too much of them, cut them off. Don't give them your contact information, and don't associate with them for a while. Again, as much as possible. If they're employers or coworkers, you might not have much choice, but if it's a 'friend' or family member, you really need to cut them off at least temporarily, because they're your weak link. They're going to post on Facebook about what you're doing, they're going to give out your contact information, and I wouldn't put it past them to set up surprise ambushes with the guy or something.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:08 AM on December 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

Not your circus, not your monkeys. This guy is bored and on a power trip and trying to make his drama your drama. Get some power players on your side.

Got a friend who is a lawyer? Have something sent to him on official letterhead about possible legal action if he does not drop this (harassment, trespassing, destruction of property, liable, defamation of character, whatever looks expensive in civil court). Make it irritating without upping the ante. This is not you talking -- this is The Man.
Got a friend who is a police officer? Have his criminal record run and have something sent on official letterhead about outstanding warrants, past complaints, etc. Again, it's not worth his time and trouble to stir this up. This is not you talking -- this is The Man.

He already is disrespecting you. Let The Man do the talking from now on, sort of like a bad divorce. He can't get around you without leaving tracks and The Man is not going to allow that.
It's dumb and sexist but your power players may be the ones he respects, because he certainly doesn't see you as a threat.

Seconding ernielundquist's suggestions about pulling a total blackout, including where you work, live and socialize, especially social media. Make sure everyone is on board with this, that anyone asking for information needs to be on your short list, or shut down.
Landlords, coworkers, and neighbors may not get the seriousness, but on the other hand, a new set of strangers won't know this random guy is not your "brother."

I'm glad you have roommates. Pepper spray is your friend (it works on aggressive dogs, too). It's not over-the-top to have a camera recording the front door and walkway.

Yeah, wouldn't it be nice if we could all just get along? But don't let modesty or embarrassment or the trouble this takes cause you to step back. Step up and protect yourself. You are not overreacting. You are not dramatic or "hysterical" (I hate that word!) or sending mixed signals.
Drop him like yesterday's news. It's not you, it's him.
posted by TrishaU at 9:31 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lots of good suggestions here so far. I would file a police report, even just to have documentation on file in case things escalate. I'm so sorry you are gong through this. Here is a good resource for home security. Another good resource is the r/justnoso subreddit, which is a support sub for people dealing with difficult (ex) partners. You will find people there who are going through similar things and understand what you are experiencing. Good luck, stay safe.
posted by snowysoul at 9:45 AM on December 19, 2017

This is abuse and wildly unacceptable. My vote would be to follow Peppermint Snowflake's advise with extra emphasis on Stop responding. Absolutely no contact from here on out. It is beyond over.
posted by scottatdrake at 9:46 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

In addition to the excellent advice already given, do NOT hesitate to contact your local domestic violence organization or victim's advocacy group and ask for the name of an attorney who can give you a consultation about your situation.

IMO, it would be worth the fee to have the attorney send your ex a cease-and-desist letter. IANAL, but my understanding is that a C&D spells out to the recipient the legal grounds for any harassment/stalking charges. It demonstrates that you have asked him to stop, informed him of his violation of the law, and given him a chance to abide thereby.

The C&D should very clearly explain all of this, including specific legal citations so that your ex can't claim ignorance. It should also be delivered by certified courier, attorney, or (if you can arrange it) a law enforcement official. The latter two are preferable, IMO, because they convey the seriousness of the situation.

If your ex ignores the letter and continues, it could prove both informed disregard of the law and malicious intent. This can help you should you need to take further legal action to get him to stop.

Keep in mind that a C&D isn't legally binding. It DOES, however, show your ex that you are absolutely not fucking around.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:09 AM on December 19, 2017

The National Center for Victims of Crime maintains the Stalking Resource Center, which contains a lot of information and a "Stalking Incident and Behavior Log " you can print/copy to record contacts.

They also have safety planning resources, which will expand on the suggestions that others have made above.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this, and good on you for reaching out for help.
posted by Gorgik at 3:33 PM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely read The Gift of Fear, and think carefully before getting a restraining order. According to the book, it counts as a form of contact and can cause a stalker to escalate. I'm sorry you're dealing with this and wish you good things. This post is a great first step!
posted by jessca84 at 9:51 PM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Nthing The Gift of Fear recommendation.

Not sure if it's been mentioned yet, but do check into your workplace's security procedures.
posted by yohko at 3:46 PM on December 21, 2017

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