What should I do about my girlfriend's abusive ex?
July 17, 2006 3:34 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend's ex is destroying our relationship.

My girlfriend and I have been in a relationship for 6 months. Our relationship has been great. I've been through my share of relationship during the last few years, but I really feel (for the first time) that this could be the one. My girlfriend is beautiful, intelligent and incredibly fun to be with. She basically has all that I could have wished for in a girl. She also has a child, which was new for me but over time I've learned to live with this, and have grown really attached to her kid. So, basically - things are great.

Except for the fact that her ex-boyfriend is doing everything he can to make our lives miserable. He's in a low-security prison for a violent crime, but will get out in a couple of weeks. My girlfriend broke up with him one year ago after having been unhappy for a long time. However, he has never accepted the fact that they're not together anymore.

Basically what he does is call her many times every single day. The few times that she answers, he is sometimes nice, but sometimes he gets abusive, and threatens her with violence. He also threatens to not be a part of his child's life and that he will hurt me or my girlfriend. He has repeatedly said that he has his friends (who have also been convicted of violent crimes) keeping an eye on us (we live in a relatively small town). He has said that he will continue to make her life a living hell if she insists on being with me. He has also called me and threatened me personally. It is worth noting that between the time he broke up with my girlfriend and the time my girlfriend and I started dating, he was also very abusive. Before he went into prison he would call her all the time, and would visit her and threaten her.


So, basically my question is what we should do? My girlfriend has tried not answering the phone, but that only leads him calling our friends or my girlfriend's family and interrogate them on where we are. She has tried to be nice to him, and plead to him to a normal part of his child's life. When that hasn't worked, she has tried to be mean to him, but nothing really seems to work. She desperately wants him to be a part of his kid's life - she doesn't want to tell her child that she is keeping her dad from visiting. However, the ex has said that the only way he'll leave us alone is if he gets back with my girlfriend, which will never happen. Even if my girlfriend and I break up, she's not going back to him. No matter how many times she tells him that, he doesn't understand or doesn't care.

My girlfriend is also very hesitant to go to the police. We live in such a small city that we are bound to meet him in the local mall or the local bars. She feels that the police will not be able to adequatly protect us, and if she goes she's afraid that it will only make him harass us more. Where we live the police does not have a good repuatition for protecting people who are threatened.


So, the situation today is that the ex gets out of prison in a few weeks time, and has repeatedly threatened us physical harm. I love my girlfriend, and to lose her would be devastating for me. For the first time in my live I have absolutely no idea what I should do. My girlfriend feels that she has some control over her ex, so she's not too worried about what he'll do to her. But she is more worried that he will do me harm. As mentioned previosly he also has a number of friends who I wouldn't like to meet in a dark alley.

This is really hurting my girlfriend. She feels responsible for involving me in her problems, and I'm afraid that she'll give up on our relationship one day because she won't be able to handle the pressure of knowing that her ex might do me harm.

I really don't know what to do.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Fer cryin' out loud, call the police right now. He doesn't have to get out of jail at all.
posted by LarryC at 3:40 PM on July 17, 2006

I know you don't want to get the police involved, but I suggest both of you get a restraining order on him asap.

And for god's sake, as long as he is being manipulative, threatening, and all-around psycho, keep the kid far, far away. Trying to include him in the kid's life for the kid's well-being is really misguided. He sounds like a toxic person. It is better to not expose the child to him at all. The absence may cause the child some pain, but it won't compare with the pain this guy will cause. He sounds like he will use the kid against the mother, which is very bad for a child, imo.
posted by milarepa at 3:46 PM on July 17, 2006

Second that!
posted by dance at 3:47 PM on July 17, 2006

His threats are a crime, and that needs to be dealt with NOW, not when he gets out of jail.

Get a lawyer & contact the police, they will (hopefully, you should follow up) deal with the prison. Get a restraining order ASAP (yes, it's not a magic barrier, but violation of it is a crime and will get him arrested).
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:47 PM on July 17, 2006

Go to the Police.
posted by krisjohn at 3:47 PM on July 17, 2006

This is what the police are for.

Call them now.
posted by bshort at 3:48 PM on July 17, 2006

Also, record his calls and threats from here on out.

Even if you don't believe the police will do anything, you need a restraining order so that it's clear, should anything happen, that you did everything you could.
posted by maxreax at 3:48 PM on July 17, 2006

DO go to the authorities, and get their professional advice. Find out what your options and what security measures they can provide.

DON'T confront him. If he is serious about his intensions, he can get you in too many ways.
posted by rinkjustice at 3:50 PM on July 17, 2006

Good god, you haven't called the police already? Making threatening calls is a *crime*, doubly so if he's in jail.
posted by SpecialK at 3:51 PM on July 17, 2006

Also, do you know which prison he's in? Find out and call them and let them know about the threatening remarks.

If your girlfriend isn't willing to take the steps necessary to remove herself from an abusive relationship and protect you, then you need to seriously ask yourself whether you belong with her or not, and whether she has your best interests in mind. Right now, it sounds like she's trying to protect her incarcerated ex-boyfriend.
posted by bshort at 3:52 PM on July 17, 2006

And call while they can still find him, while he's in jail.
posted by SpecialK at 3:53 PM on July 17, 2006

She desperately wants him to be a part of his kid's life

Why does she desperately want an abuser and stalked to to be a part of her child's life? Does she think there's some reasoning with him? Some magic bullet to make him play nice? This man has already made threats against your safety. For god's sake, at what point will she consider going to the police to be a viable option -- when the ex actually assaults one of you or kidnaps the kid? Jesus. I'm about as leery of the cops as they come, and I think you ought to call the police NOW. Then go to the Stalking Resource Center -- assuming you're in the U.S., you can check the specific laws for your state
posted by scody at 3:53 PM on July 17, 2006

Keep very detailed records of all of the phone calls. Get a restraining order against him for both your girlfriend and her child. Help your girlfriend explain to her family and friends that she has a restraining order against him.
posted by k8t at 3:54 PM on July 17, 2006

If you think he won't kill her, think again. Just a couple of months ago in my ER we had two women brought in who had both been shot in the head. One was the ex-girlfriend, the other woman was the ex-girlfriend's mother. He had been abusive to his girlfriend in the past so she had moved in with her mother. He continued to threaten her for months after she had broken up with him and he finally went to the house one day and killed them both. The local newspaper said he shot them in front of his three kids. Three months before that it was a very similar situation, only this man shot and killed his girlfriend at a stoplight in the busiest intersection in town. He was so full of rage he didn't care how many witnesses there were. Both of these men had instances of being abusive in the past.

At this point she HAS to give up any hope of a relationship between the father and her child or risk the child losing BOTH parents, him to jail and her to a grave. Go to the police, get a restraining order, and if it continues then she needs to move. It doesn't matter if she doesn't want to move, or has a good job, or will lose you. It's better than being dead. You said it yourself, "he doesn't understand or care" that she doesn't want to be with him. That means he's not a rational person and that's someone that does not need to be around her child or her no matter how far away you have to go. The problem with this situation is that you have no idea what he is capable of, until after he has done it.
posted by Ugh at 3:54 PM on July 17, 2006

gah! "stalked" = "stalker," obviously. And please put a period at the end of that final sentence. /anal retentive editor
posted by scody at 3:54 PM on July 17, 2006

Second / third reccomendation to call the police. If that's difficult for your girlfriend to do you might want to talk this through with her as calmly and supportively as you can manage. Its worth mentioning that many men who are violent towards women (which he seems to be, if only verbally) are also violent towards their children - does she want to take that risk?

If the answer is still no, you might want to consider relocating to elsewhere in your country (which I presume from the way you write is the UK). There are lots of charities to help battered women do this, but I expect almost none that would take you in tow.

The police aren't a perfect option - but they seem better than nothing in your situation - there is a lot they will do to help people in your position such as panic alarms etc. If you don't get them involved I cannot see how you'll ever get out of her ex's shadow - which is of course what he wants.

At the very least begin now to keep a diary of all the calls and threats - this will be useful. You might consider getting a tape recodrding microphone (such as this) and recoding the calls onto a tape player.

Victim Support if you are UK based will be able to offer confidential support and advice whcihc you may find useful - give them a ring.

Good luck!
posted by prentiz at 4:01 PM on July 17, 2006

I'll offer two avenues of advice.

She feels that the police will not be able to adequatly protect us...

She's probably right. The short version is that you probably have two options: Move far away, or make him stop. If you're not willing to pack up your life and you're not willing to speak his language, then you're probably going to live at his mercy for a long while.

If you're posting here, I doubt you're willing to do either. That leaves the ineffective route of employing the legal system, and your girlfriend has probably shared her strong opinions on that so I'll move on to my second tack.

She desperately wants him to be a part of his kid's life...

I understand that you love her and I'm usually the last guy to suggest giving up on someone you love — but your girlfriend's abusive convict ex-boyfriend is stalking her via telephone and harassing her family and making violent threats about what's going to happen when he gets out of prison in a few weeks, yet she "desperately wants him to be a part of [her son's] life." That's a pretty serious red flag, and the advice you need to be given is: Walk away from this situation. I know you love her and I understand that she's special — but if you stay with her, you're not going to like what happens.
posted by cribcage at 4:04 PM on July 17, 2006

you might want to consider relocating to elsewhere in your country

I hate to make it this difficult, but prentiz has some good advice here -- particularly if the guy has friends on the outside. Odds are probably pretty good that he'll get out of jail someday, and I wouldn't count on his mellowing out by then.

Right now I live in a small town myself, and I've been privy to some of the darker goings-on here (I used to work at the local newspaper). If there's one thing that it's not easy to do in a small town, it's hide. A restraining order may not help. And even if it does, you won't have restraining orders on this jackass's friends.

If you stay where you are you'll just get bogged down in his crap. Your neighbors will find out. Word will spread. And you'll be living with this asshole over your head as long as he's alive. Making a better life for yourself in a place that this guy hasn't infected might be the best route for you.

Also, ditto to just about all the advice here as far as alerting the police and recording every detail. Try as hard as you can to keep this jerk in jail.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:13 PM on July 17, 2006

Christ, she should hire a lawyer and get any parental rights he might have terminated. On top of a restraining order.

She needs to take legal steps now. If she's unwilling to do so, you should extricate yourself from the situation before you get hurt. She's behaving unreasonably.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:16 PM on July 17, 2006

Why is there so much equivocation in the way you talk about these issues? You can't go to the police because of one rather weaselly excuse, you can't dump him from your lives because of one other weaselly excuse ... and so on down the line.

You've posed us a question and framed it so that it's impossible for you to really do anything at all. You want to know how to deal with your girlfriend's psycho ex without calling the police, without excluding him from your lives, without angering him ... what kind of answer do you have in mind? Do you want us to just assure you that there's nothing you can do except let this asshole run your life into the ground?

Seriously, this woman is still very engaged in this guy's games. She's still in his sphere of influence, not yours. Having you around is a way of extending her games with him. You don't matter. Sad to say, the child may not really matter either. They're still a couple, and he still calls the shots.

posted by argybarg at 4:18 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

For the love of god, call the police right now!

But, yeah, even if they are able to keep him in jail a while longer, they can't protect you forever. I'd get the hell out of town ASAP.

Agreeing with everyone else: if she wants a man like this to be part of her kid's life, she's a bit crazy, unfortunately. I hope you can convince her to leave with you.
posted by equalpants at 4:21 PM on July 17, 2006

"She desperately wants him to be a part of his kid's life - she doesn't want to tell her child that she is keeping her dad from visiting."

This is highly defective thinking. Something is very wrong here.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:22 PM on July 17, 2006

I don't think you told us just how he was supposed to be getting out. Has he served his full term? Or is it parole?

If it's parole, then it's not inevitable. His behavior makes clear that he's a danger to society, and maybe the parole board will reconsider and keep him inside.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:24 PM on July 17, 2006

It might also be time to consider a "concealed-carry" license.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:24 PM on July 17, 2006

My girlfriend feels that she has some control over her ex, so she's not too worried about what he'll do to her.

This is also highly defective thinking.
posted by argybarg at 4:25 PM on July 17, 2006

I hope you can convince her to leave with you.

Actually, scratch that. What I really mean to say is that I hope you can get her to come to her senses, which may then lead to her leaving with you. Not gonna do any good if she leaves but keeps calling the guy.
posted by equalpants at 4:26 PM on July 17, 2006

and if she goes [to the police] she's afraid that it will only make him harass us more.

You can't play this game with yourself. You don't control what he does. You think he'll stop short of acting out on his anger as a favor, to say thank you for not going to the police? Hardly. I'll repeat:


Second guessing based on what it might make him do is a bad game to play.

It sounds as if your life may be in danger. Once he's out, one evening he may be out with his friends, drinking and bitching about you, and he gets himself worked up enough, perhaps his friends egg him on, saying "are you just going to sit there or are you going to do something?" And he'll be drunk enough to not care about the consequences.

Find a way to protect yourself, or get the hell out of there and take her with you. And if she wants to stay and have him "be a part of the child's life" you have to leave her.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:27 PM on July 17, 2006

Definitely get the police involved, then consider sitting your gf down and asking her some very hard questions. If she wants this guy involved in her child's life at the same time he's making threats to all of you, you have a major conflict of interest. Some people, for whatever reason, are just drawn to abuse. Maybe your gf needs to think seriously about what she really wants. It's possible the real problem, at it's core, does not actually involve you at all.
posted by BorgLove at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2006

Why does she want the dad involved in the child's life? As a mom, one major job is to protect her child. Grown-up children sometimes end up very mad at the non-abusive parent for having let the abusive one hurt them. She could give the child the choice -- my friend's mom waited until my friend was 14 or so, then explained that her dad was an alcoholic, that she thought it was a bad idea for her to see him, that she wished her daughter would wait to see her dad until she was even more of an adult, but that she was old enough to choose for herself.

As a mom, another major job is to be the example of how adults behave. One example she should set is that you need to stand up against bullies and not give in to threats.
posted by ruff at 4:34 PM on July 17, 2006

Convince your GF anyhow that having her ex in kid's life is not what she wants. If you can spend some money, try to get help of some local lawyer..and get a restraining order. I know you've already said that police won't help but in any eventual legal faceoff in the future you'll need to prove that you took all the steps possible to keep yourself and your GF from harms way. Your intuituion that police won't be helpful will hurt you in two ways. One is obvious and the second is if the police ever comes to know this reasoning, they'll be even more pissed off on you.

You need to take steps NOW to keep her ex in jail and - I repeat myself - for god's sake convince your ex to save herself and kid from this abusive guy. Best of luck.
posted by forwebsites at 4:42 PM on July 17, 2006

Steven, I don't think gun battles with the psychos will really solve the poster's problem.

I also say leave. Now. You are a prop in this woman's ongoing drama with her ex / stalker / abuser.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:44 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Just to follow up on my link to the Stalking Resource Center, here is their page on creating a safety plan, whether the victim is A) in imminent danger or B) in danger but not immediately at risk. You are presently the latter category, and you and your girlfriend need to do everything it takes to prevent the situation from becoming the former -- for god's sake, you are the adults here and you must protect the child. This includes getting a restraining order, documenting all illegal acts, treating all threats as legitimate (and therefore calling the police), and taking preventative measures such as installing deadbolt locks and varying travel routes.

And yeah, to add to what others are saying, your girlfriend is using very twisted thinking to prevent herself (and you, apparently) from doing anything about the situation, other than to engage the ex (whether by trying to reason with him or "being mean" to him) or to hide her head in the sand (not answering the phone). Neither will fix the situation, and either could possibly get someone killed. For whatever reason -- fear, addiction to drama, who knows? -- this woman you think is "the one" is not doing everything it takes to protect herself, her child, and her boyfriend. You need to face that, and either encourage her to take real steps to address this very serious issue (and take some of those steps yourself), or think long and hard about what it will mean to be in a long-term relationship with her.
posted by scody at 4:47 PM on July 17, 2006

Your girlfriend needs to realize that she has no, repeat NO control over her ex. It doesn't matter how much he "loves" her. It doesn't matter how obsessed he is with her.

I had a boyfriend (in my late teens, early twenties) who pretty much decided that the sun wouldn't rise tomorrow if I wasn't with him, and when he finally accepted that the relationship wasn't going to work, he came to my parents house to kill me. The only reason I'm not dead is that one of my parents answered the door, and he liked them. He proceeded to kill himself. I thought I had some control over him, too. That nearly got me killed.

Why would she want her child to be exposed to this man? I don't care if he's the "real" father or not, he's not a good person and could well hurt the child to get to her. What is she thinking? You need to have a very serious talk with her about how she feels about her ex, and why she is willing to let him continue to harass both of you. You might want to suggest to her that she explore the reason why she would want to put her kid in such danger. If he's willing to cut off communication with the child, then he isn't much interested in being a father.

Also - what ruff said.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 4:50 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think you need to face an unpleasant fact: you are becoming the step-father of this man's child. If you stay in this relationship, you and the child's father will have a kind of relationship for the rest of your lives.

Imagine sharing the child's graduation, or marriage, or children with this man. If you can't face that possibility, then you should save everyone a world of hurt and end it now.
posted by timeistight at 4:54 PM on July 17, 2006

Steven C. Den Beste writes "It might also be time to consider a 'concealed-carry' license."

If this route is chosen, it is even more imperative to have a restraining order in place as well as a *long* trail of complaints registered with the police.
posted by stet at 4:54 PM on July 17, 2006

Why does she desperately want an abuser and stalked to to be a part of her child's life?

Double, triple, quadruple endorsement on that comment. As the commenters here have astutely pointed out, the problem is both her and her ex. This relationship is going to be a living hell for you if she doesn't make some drastic changes immediately. The idea of putting up with this is probably idealistic right now but you'll regret it later.

I'm trying to help, trust me.
posted by zek at 4:55 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

move away.
posted by ab3 at 4:58 PM on July 17, 2006

Seriously, this woman is still very engaged in this guy's games. She's still in his sphere of influence, not yours. Having you around is a way of extending her games with him. You don't matter. Sad to say, the child may not really matter either. They're still a couple, and he still calls the shots.

I just want to stress that this is likely the case. I don't know more about your situation than what you have written, but continuing to engage a stalker/abuser is not the same as solving the problem Solving the problem invoves severing ties, bringing in law enforcement and taking all the sensible steps that people have given you above.

If the kid is sort of a make or break point, make a deal with her that AFTER her ex is out of jail and AFTER he has shown himself to be reasonable (reasonable being determined by you, an impartial observer or the law) than and only then can he even talk about interacting wiht his child. This is not about keeping him from his kid, this is about keeping her kid, and her, safe from harm from someone who is dangerous and unstable. Give it six months, hypothetically, and say you'll see where things stand then.

Your girlfriend is acting like an almost textbook abusive relationship victim. Please make changes now.
posted by jessamyn at 5:21 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you are going to stay with her, you either need to a) kill him or b) remove his parental rights, if he still has them, move to a different state, and stay anonymous. Nothing else will make a difference. Sorry.

The fact that she stays in contact with him and wants him in her child's life is troubling. Having been in this situation before, I can tell you what I should have done and what you should probably do: walk away.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:29 PM on July 17, 2006

I had a much longer reply planned, but fortunately jessamyn got there first, so: what jessamyn said.

I know you love this woman, but please think.
posted by languagehat at 5:29 PM on July 17, 2006

I know you don't want to get the police involved, but I suggest both of you get a restraining order on him asap.

I've read that in fact, getting a restraining order can be the most dangerous thing an abused person can do - it is apparently frequently the act that causes the abuser to go apeshit. Think about it - this person is already acting outside the law -- what is a piece of paper going to do to stop him? So I would think carefully about that before getting one, for the same reasons I would think carefully about involving the cops. I would consult a lawyer, or a domestic violence resource in your area.

Here's a quote about TPOs: "A victim of stalking or abuse needs to carefully research how restraining orders or protection orders are enforced in their neighborhood. Find out if the violator will just be given a citation or if they will actually be taken to jail. If the police simply talk to the violator or give a citation, the abuser may become annoyed or angry and may retaliate. Or the abuser may see that the police will do nothing, and they will feel invigorated to pursue the victim further.

Sometimes a restraining order or protection order does more harm than good. When the stalker or domestic abuser finds out about the restraining order, they may feel humiliated or rejected, and then angry, and so become violent. The mere fact that you have obtained a restraining order may increase the chance of violence.

Stalkers who tend to be persistent in the face of restraining orders are

* partners who have a long-term investment in the relationship with the victim, or
* partners who are delusional stalkers (such as erotomaniacs, who have a fantasy that the partner still loves them)

You are not necessarily safe if you have a restraining order or protection order: the stalker or abuser may ignore it, and the police may do nothing to enforce it. Do not feel falsely secure with a restraining order!"

And this resource seems to have collected useful info:
posted by Amizu at 5:48 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

The usual book recommendation in these situations is Gavin De Becker's The Gift of Fear. I think it would be a good start for you and your girlfriend to read.

It addresses the issue of restraining orders that Amizu mentions, as well as exactly how your girlfriend has already shown him that what he's doing works. Intermittant reinforcement and empty threats actually increase the likelihood he'll continue to stalk her. She needs to cut off contact, she needs to tell her friends and family to cut off contact, and you both need to stick with it. Anything less than that is going to get you both in trouble.

Also, police departments have become much more responsive about abusive boyfriends than they were 10-20 years ago. I wouldn't necessarily write off the police on this.
posted by occhiblu at 6:25 PM on July 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

I think people are misinformed about how (not) easy it is to terminate parental rights. If fighting with one's girlfriend / baby mother and being convicted of what (from the original posting) was likely a fairly minor crime sufficed, there'd be a lot more terminations than in fact there are.

In addition to natural concerns for fatherly rights, courts also have a concern for the public treasury: removing parental rights and all of a sudden the state loses the deepest pocket (other than itself) for welfare reimbursements, child support, child health benefits if and when the father ever becomes gainfully employed, etc.

And, of course, it's true about restraining orders. They are great tools for perjuring wives and their unscrupulous lawyers to harass decent husbands and ex-husbands, but they are completely worthless when applied to actually dangerous men, who rarely have any fear for the only tool that exists to enforce them, a few nights of cooling it in the county jail
posted by MattD at 6:28 PM on July 17, 2006

I was going to post the same two options Optimus Chyme did.

Here's the problem. EVEN IF you end your relationship with this woman now, and something happens to get this guy pissed off at her (and it will happen); he may very well blame YOU, even if you had nothing to do with it, and that could lead to a beat down or worse.

Here is the only course of action I see for you. 1) Decide if you want to be with this woman long-term. (If not, skip step 2.) 2) Tell your GF that you love her and want to marry her, and adopt her kid, but you'll only do this if she moves to NYC/LA/Atlanta/Portland/Paris with you. 3) Move away, regardless of her answer to step 2.

Small town + love triangle + anger managment issues = stitches for you eventually.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:30 PM on July 17, 2006

You should break up with her, because her attitude is fucked up. And after you break up with her, you should leave town.

If you don't break up with her and/or don't move, you should get the authorities involved today. Don't just call the police; call the prosecutor who put the guy away to begin with. He will be probably be overjoyed at the opportunity to keep someone in jail so easily. That would be the first call...the prosecutor has more sway over the police and the jail than you do. But if that turns out to be a dead end, by all means, call the jail and call the police, and get a restraining order. And then break up with her. And then move.

Put more simply: I knew the core issue when I read "My girlfriend's ex is destroying our relationship." Well, buddy, that kind of thing doesn't usually happen. The people who are in the relationship destroy the relationship because of the way they react to outside factors. If your relationship was as great as you're pretending, you and your girlfriend would not be focused on the relationship between your girlfriend and your ex. You would be calling the DA and preparing to leave town.

By the way, leaving town in this situation is not running away. It's leaving. There is only one battle that could be fought here, and that's for you and your girlfriend to fight for a better life. In which case, pull out all the stops with the authorities, and leave town, intending never to see him again and hoping that he trips on something and dies. If your girlfriend won't fight that battle with you, then you have to fight it for yourself.

Explain this to her. Then break up with her. Then leave town.
posted by bingo at 7:08 PM on July 17, 2006

If you stay in the relationship but take no other steps, violence will be visited upon you, and probably repeatedly. Without your girlfriend's cooperation, you will not be rid of the ex.

So you need the girlfriend's cooperation: she must agree to not have any contact with the ex at any time in the future and must agree to leave town with you. Anything less, and you need to get out of the relationship.

And you leaving town, I think, is mandatory, regardless. Even if you split with the girl, he's going to visit violence upon you, and probably repeatedly.

And he will do so regardless of whether or not you get the authorities involved.

(on preview: I also agree with bingo; you have to leave town, but breaking up with the girl is entirely dependent on whether you can trust her to cut the ex completely out of her life. If she calls back home to find out where he's at and how he's doing, that breach of trust might get you killed. And her killed. And the kid killed. So you need to be very, very sure of your relationship. And you have to leave town.)
posted by solid-one-love at 7:18 PM on July 17, 2006

Have you called the cops yet?
posted by LarryC at 7:54 PM on July 17, 2006

Said by so many, but good advice is worth repeating: MOVE! Far away. Document the harassment. Let the jail and the D.A know about what he is up to. If he gets out, let his parole officer know. Oh, get the 9mm and use it if necessary.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:51 PM on July 17, 2006

My girlfriend is also very hesitant to go to the police.

My girlfriend is ... intelligent

You might want to rethink that intelligent part. At the very least, her judgement is seriously lacking. This is a no brainer. A child would tell you to go to the police. Put on your seatbelt. You have nothing but drama in your future with this person.
posted by justgary at 9:43 PM on July 17, 2006

Dunno where the anon poster lives, but if it's in California (or a couple other states) his chances of getting a concealed carry permit are almost ZERO. Very sad but true fact. Too bad the criminals will still be packing.

Document everything this guy does. Tell the girlfriend that she has some serious choices to make. I can't fathom why she's desperate to have this loser in her child's life, but that sounds like an issue that you two need to work out. She isn't controlling him at all and she's an idiot if she thinks that she does have any control over him.

Losing her may be devestating - for now. You'll get over it, alive. Losing your LIFE would be a LOT worse. A girl isn't worth getting killed over. Especially one that sounds like she has her priorities way out of whack. My god, man.

If you're in a normal state, you can buy a short barreled shotgun. Do so. Get steel buckshot. Keep it loaded. If this guy comes to your door and threatens your life, blow his fucking head off. But make sure that you have documented proof that the guy has been making threats against you. A lawyer might also tell you to get a restraining order. At least make sure there's some sort of paper trail.
posted by drstein at 10:04 PM on July 17, 2006

I just want to say that it's in no way obvious your girlfriend is "an idiot" or trying to fuck you over in some way. Women get caught up in abusive situations no matter how smart they are, and this attitude that she's somehow retarded for not seeing a clear easy way out is what keeps a lot of women in bad situations.

There's a nice write-up from a woman who was stalked here. It shows how you can get caught up in someone's BS without even really realizing it, until it starts to seem so normal that you stop questioning it.
posted by occhiblu at 10:33 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I completely agree with the overwhelming consensus you've received here. One clarification: regardless of what your girlfriend decides to do, regardless of what the cops and parole board decide to do, regardless of whether he gets out next week or in 10 years -- your life is under imminent threat today. So is hers. So is her child's. Act accordingly.

It doesn't matter whether her ex- does the deed personally; those thugs who've been watching and reporting, they'd be happy to help out a friend whose inconvenient incarceration had rendered him unavailable to do it himself. Whenever he -- or even they -- decide that one of you needs to be taught a lesson, or that an obstacle should be removed, violence WILL be carried out expeditiously.

Get yourself the fuck out of there right now. This second. When you're safe, do as much as you can to safeguard the two of them too without compromising your own safety (i.e. this may not be a good time to trust her with critical info like your new location), but keep this foremost in mind: her current actions and mindset are undermining their safety right now, and without a major awakening she WILL continue that deadly pattern.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is how you can realistically help save the life of a child whose custodial parent is currently too enmeshed in the danger to see it clearly and protect the child from it. Though it may pain you greatly to do this, please PLEASE consider calling Child Protection Services. They handle this dynamic all the time, and can get him into a stable foster home while helping this woman to get the domestic violence counseling and parenting classes she needs. She obviously loves her child and wants to do right by him. But right now she's demonstrably incapable of acting in his best interests. By getting the child moved to safer ground, you both free an innocent from this fucked up situation and free her from this guy's parental blackmail game.

I've known many kids who grew up amidst this exact parental dynamic. "Toxic" doesn't begin to describe the effects. It's devastating. She's trying to do right, but everything you describe is testament that she's failing badly. For this child's sake, do what she cannot: get him out of the crosshairs.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:47 PM on July 17, 2006

I think a lot of us would appreciate it if you could let us know what you decide. Writing jessamyn is a common way to provide updates or clarifications without compromising anonymity (except to jessamyn, who's definitely trustworthy). Good luck.
posted by languagehat at 5:50 AM on July 18, 2006

Please review what omptimus chime, dstein & nakedcodemonkey have to say as well as the overwhelming consensus here. Unless your girlfriend is willing to pick up stakes today & move to another state, without telling any friends/family of your new location (in order to protect them as well as you) then you are headed for a life of (at minimum) continuing hassassment and possibly serious violence. Turn off the computer & call the district attorney & cops now & understand your and her rights. Perhaps the threats from jail now can delay his release. Documentation of his threats may provide ammunbiction for future custody battle. If you bug out, you better develop some tradecraft to make sure you're not being dogged by his friends. If you want to stay with her, you really ned to leave in the dead of night. If you can't/aren't willing to do that but must stay with her, it's time to cowboy up. Get ready for your life to change in ways you've never considered.
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:45 AM on July 18, 2006

Report him to the prison authorities. He won't be getting out. Its a parole violation to threaten people.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:48 AM on July 18, 2006

He is harrassing her. Don't just call the cops. Also call a women's shelter, or family vioence advocate, or whoever does this work where you are. They will be more assertive in their assistance. The phone book should have a section on community resources; look under abuse or domestic violence. The likelihood of effective help from the police depends, a lot, on their level of training in domestic violence.

It takes some effort to get to jail for violent crime. He is clearly likely to continue to be violent. Take his threats extremely seriously.
posted by theora55 at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2006

I agree with everyone who has said to get yourself away from this situation. If you can convince her to go with you and to cut off all contact with him, you might have a chance to help her get passed her addiction to him. Maybe...

You aren't doing anyone any favors by humoring her. Tell her in no uncertain terms that you will drop her like a hot rock unless she agrees to cut this man out of her life and her child's future.

Your library might have this book. If not, buy it and read it.

If you stay with her after all this, you have issues as well. You might be addicted to relationships with victims who need to be rescued...

The Betrayal Bond

Exploitive relationships can create trauma bonds--chains that link a victim to someone who is dangerous to them. Divorce, employee relations, litigation of any type, incest and child abuse, family and marital systems, domestic violence, hostage negotiations, kidnapping, professional exploitation and religious abuse are all areas of trauma bonding. All these relationships share one thing: they are situations of incredible intensity or importance where there is an exploitation of trust or power. ...The Betrayal Bond ... presents an in-depth study of these relationships, why they form, who is most susceptible, and how they become so powerful. ... shows how to recognize when traumatic bonding has occurred and gives a checklist for examining relationships. ... The Betrayal Bond then provides steps to safely extricate from these relationships.
posted by Corky at 10:27 AM on July 18, 2006

I second/third etc everything that has been said on this site. As a child I was a repeated victim of years of domestic abuse - which carried on with my parents full knowledge. The moment someone hurts you in anger your life changes. Their inability to protect me when it mattered most left me with a huge psychological burden and it's been a long road to emotional health.

Whatever your concerns for yourself and your gf, the welfare of the child is paramount. He/She is not to suffer because adults were unable to make good decisions. Even if you choose to leave, do not do so without making some kind of provision for the child - be it calling child protection services or documenting the ex's behaviour with the police. Please don't leave the safety of this child to chance.
posted by poissonrouge at 11:21 AM on July 18, 2006 [2 favorites]

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