How can I get them to leave me alone?
December 16, 2007 10:32 AM   Subscribe

How can I get them to leave me alone? I have the court order. I have moved and rarely leave the house. So how do I get this person to leave me alone?

In August I posted about a getting out of a relationship with someone who I suspected suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder.

You can see the post here or by clicking on my other activity - it's the only other post I've made.
The judge awarded me two years of protection and ordered this person to pay my attorney's fees. They are not allowed to contact me directly or indirectly. And I have completely moved on - relocated, focused on my work and my health and a new relationship, and am, for the most part, VERY happy.

However, this person persists on doing whatever they can to "get" me. Their myspace page is always full of unflattering references to me. For a while they were using their profile to count down the days left on the abuse order, blogging about how they were going to move in on my line of work (which is very specialized) to pay off their debt, and listing all the people they thought I had slept with (most names I didn't even recognize).

Now their myspace page is also full of derogatory statements about the new person in my life and my relationship with them. Of course no one is named and it's just vague enough, but anyone who knows about our history is bound to get the reference.

This person continues to harass my friends - via email, in person, or on the phone. But I am never named, so it does not count as indirect contact. On my birthday they tracked down my celebration at a restaurant and left an anonymous card for me with the kitchen staff (who, when asked, gave a positive name ID for the person). However, without subpoenaing everyone involved, it would be hard to prove that it was this person who had left the card.

This weekend I received an email from their ex - or at least it is supposed to be from their ex. I would not put it past this person to fake the address and imitate their ex. The contents of the email were bland but there was just enough to make me wonder.

I have pretty much retreated from the world to avoid any interaction with this person. I rarely go out, and when I do it is to places that they do not frequent, or from where they have been banned. I have deleted any presence on social sites like myspace, and except for my business, I have no online presence at all.

My attorney and my psychiatrist say, "Just ignore him, but if he keeps it up then maybe something could be done." When I talked to law enforcement about this, I was told, "You have a case." But when I went to the station to report the incidents, I was told, "You don't have a case."

Part of me wants to go after this person but I am scared of what will happen. If they're this persistent and nasty after a protection order, how bad would it be if they were jailed?

Part of me feels like I should continue to ignore it. But it makes me sick that my loved ones are being affected.

I am tired of living like a recluse but am nervous about doing anything that's going to incite them. And while none of the things that they've done are huge and terrible, it's like death by a thousand papercuts.

So any thoughts on how to make them stop? Or should I just continue to ignore them and hide?
posted by uh126 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Stalking experts say ignore, move far away if possible, and hope that the person finds a new target. I'm so sorry.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2007

Send a copy of the protection order to MySpace and tell them to block that person from posting about you. I am curious how they tracked down your birthday celebration. Are you also posting on MySpace? Stop using MySpace or anything like MySpace to communicate with your friends so they can't read it also.
posted by 45moore45 at 10:38 AM on December 16, 2007

Are you also posting on MySpace?

Not to speak for uh126, but from the question:
"I have deleted any presence on social sites like myspace, and except for my business, I have no online presence at all."
posted by jmd82 at 10:43 AM on December 16, 2007

First and foremost, stop checking their myspace. I have an ex who borders on insane. even five years later, she spits evil, nasty statements about me at every turn. The only reason I know about this is because my wife got curious and looked.

You are separated, moved, and officially barred from this person, so every time you look at their webpage, you are inviting them back in to your life. Stop this immediately.

As for the rest, if he shows his face, have his ass arrested. That's pretty simple.
posted by phredgreen at 10:44 AM on December 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

I agree with phredgreen. Stop looking at their page and plug the holes in your communications so they don't know who you are dating or where your birthday party is. You are victimizing yourself by reading his web rants so stop. Live your life.
posted by 45moore45 at 11:01 AM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd focus on tuning this person out. Not checking the person's MySpace page will be half the battle. You're playing right into his or her hands by doing so. Ask your friends to tune the person out as well - to not respond in any way to overtures on his or her part. If all his or her efforts are met with an apparent wall of silence and indifference he or she will be more likely to give up trying to bother or rail against you, because it's unrewarding.

I'm not advising you to ignore anything actionable, and if anything breaks through that isn't actionable document it, but otherwise, live your life and forget about this person as much as possible.
posted by orange swan at 11:04 AM on December 16, 2007

Best answer: Years ago, during college, I dated a guy who went crazy when I broke up with him. He followed me around campus, left gifts and flowers on my back porch, called dozens of times a day, and finally broke into my apartment in a rage. I fought with him and was finally able to push him out the back door while my roommate called the police.

Long story short, I took him to court and got a permanent restraining order. Then, the real fear started. I couldn't walk down the street without thinking he was going to jump out at me from an alleyway, appear on the corner, on the platform at the train station, barge into my classes or show up at my job. My mind starting weaving these horrible scenarios that he was alway somewhere lying in wait for me and, a few times, I even hallucinated that some poor guy I'd just passed on the street was really HIM and my heart would start racing and my palms would go cold. I'd duck into a store or an apartment doorway and hide. Thing is, though, it never was HIM. Still, my fear caused me to imagine that he was always somewhere around me, watching me, just out of sight.

Fast forward five years. I'd started dating again. I'd moved to a new apartment in a different neighborhood. I'd stopped thinking about HIM every day and only thought about him once in a while if I was walking alone at night or in an unfamiliar area or just a little freaked out lying in my bed listening to a tree branch scrape against the gutter. A new coffee shop opened about a block and a half away from my new place. I walked down on a Sunday morning for a cup of coffee. Guess who was working behind the counter?

I looked at him. He smiled and said, "I've been waiting for this for a long time." I said, "I'd like a large cup of coffee with milk, please." He said, "I guess you live around here now." I didn't say anything. I just opened my wallet and pulled out a couple of dollars. He said, "You've gained some weight. You look alot older." I just waited for him to fill my order. He turned around and poured me a cup of coffee. He passed it across the counter and pushed my two dollars onto the floor. I left them there. I sat at a table and drank my entire cup of coffee, not looking at him, while he puttered around wiping down machines and counters, and waited on a few other customers. He didn't look at me again or say anything else to me. I left and walked back to my apartment. I've not laid eyes on him since, nor have I been afraid that I will.

My point is obvious - you're afraid of this asshole and that's what he's feeding off of. The minute you stop living in fear and giving him more mental and emotional attention than he's worth is the minute you can start living your life again. If he attempts more than what he's done so far, call the cops and prosecute him to the fullest extent. In the meantime, though, let him write his mean little missives on his MySpace page. Let him spread lies about you. Let him drop of his little cards and reminders that he knows where you are and what you're up to. Let him send little e-mails. Let him try to start a business in competition with you. Don't play his game. These sorts of people are inadequate, fearful and utterly and completely powerless over you unless you allow them to be. If he gets the message that his pathetic attempts to stay in your life by screwing with your mind won't work, he'll eventually dry up and blow away.

Best of luck. I understand how frightening this situation is for you.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2007 [21 favorites]

Best answer: I suspect right now you're reading these and thinking "Didn't you READ? He's NUTS! He's probably going to kill me someday! You think I can just IGNORE it?"

Because I went through years of similar and worse shit.

You really need to quit looking him up at all, and one thing I found I needed to do quite a bit of was tell everybody I knew that I wasn't interested in hearing "updates" from them. Even if they got an e-mail or something. Unless it was "I am going to get a gun and shoot kmennie on 17 December 2007," I did not need to know, period.

You should "hide" as much as reasonable for the time being, if only to make yourself feel better. But mostly, ignore. Don't bother with the cops or MySpace admins or anything; even "Stop this or you get arrested/lose your account" from a third party is exciting interaction from you.

Eventually you will, I promise, go back to a normal life. If this ex = my ex, you will still periodically get helpful friends passing on news of his stubborn fascination with you years after the fact, but by then you won't give a toss because your life will have returned to normal and you'll (still) have plenty to be happy about.

I am well aware of how hard it sucks for now, though, and I wish you the best.
posted by kmennie at 11:24 AM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are lots of threads on stalkers around here, but the general idea is this:

Avoid all contact. Even negative contact where you say, "Leave me alone." If he calls your house fifty times in a row and you answer on the 51st time even to say, "Stop calling here," you've just taught him that it takes 50 phone calls to get a response from you. Don't even allow people to act on your behalf. Any contact, no matter how fleeting or indirect, will reinforce and reward their behavior. In time stalkers tend to loose focus or find someone else to terrorize.

Speaking as someone who had their own frightening stalker experience a few years ago I'm very sorry you're having to deal with this. Be strong. Good luck!
posted by wfrgms at 11:33 AM on December 16, 2007

The Gift of Fear is a wonderful book, and from my (shaky) memory of it, does address stalkers and offers some good advice.
posted by thebrokedown at 12:04 PM on December 16, 2007

Do you have a friend, sibling or loved one who could be tasked with watching her MySpace page on your behalf? That way you wouldn't feel the need to monitor it for violations of the court order, because someone else was doing it, and you could save yourself the trauma of reading it yourself.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:10 PM on December 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've not been in this situation (thankfully), so take this advice as being from someone who wishes you well, but has no experience. As previous posters have said, this person thrives off the fear and the fact that their actions get attention. So don't give that to them: send an email to all of your friends/relatives that they have been in contact with, saying that you are removing this person from your life, and that you no longer wish to hear anything about them, no longer wish to know what he is doing, no longer want people to act as a messenger service, etc. And that this works both ways; say you would be grateful if they were not to discuss your life with them in any way at all; if the person asks, they should simply say "my friend has moved on and no longer wants any contact with you. leave it." As far as you are concerned, they don't exist anymore, and you don't exist for them.

Then set up web blocking software that blocks his site, his email and anything else. And concentrate on getting on with your life...
posted by baggers at 12:20 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding The Gift of Fear -- it's a good resource for somebody in your situation. I am so sorry you have to go through this.
posted by jennyjenny at 2:35 PM on December 16, 2007

Best answer: First of all, TryTheTilapia, you're a fuckin' bad ass.

Uh126, please stop looking at the Myspace page. I know it's been said a lot here already, but really. You're only fixating on it by keeping tabs on the person. As far as showing up at the restaurant, harassing your friends, etc...well, there's nothin' a good ass kickin' can't fix.
posted by Roman Graves at 2:46 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

stop visiting the myspace page. have a trusted friend check the page periodically, print out any new stuff, and to alert you to any possible threats. you need to document this stuff as well as possible. do you still have the card? put it in a file with the myspace printouts. print out the emails (even ones allegedly from someone else that you suspect are this person). if this person pulls another stunt like they did at the restaurant, get the names of employees/managers who interacted with them (explain that you have an order of protection against this person and that they are not in trouble, just that they may be asked to confirm their story). if they are willing to supply a written and signed statement for your file, even better.

kmennie's advice is good, but if you're genuinely concerned about your safety, i would continue to alert the police and your lawyer about each new occurrence.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:51 PM on December 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone. Excellent advice.

I guess I jumped the gun in thinking that after have zero contact for four months that they would give up. And I assumed incorrectly that their moving on to a new relationship would take the heat off of me. Wrong again!

Obviously I need to stop checking their myspace page. I will figure out how to block the site from my computer, or have someone do it for me. As I work online all day, by myself, it's like having a pint of Ben and Jerry's or a bottle of Bowmore sitting in front of me constantly - I know I shouldn't do it, but it's right there - all....the.....time.

But the worst part is that they are saying terrible things about people that I love. And I have no recourse. And any action I take to try to stop it will (as has been pointed out in this thread repeatedly) reinforce their behavior. It just feels as if they are getting away with it and I'm still the one being punished.

I will reiterate to my friends that I don't want to hear about this person's behavior unless it's a direct threat. Unfortunately I live in a smallish city and we are all part of a smaller sub-group, so everyone pretty much knows what everyone else is doing. I am certain that every move I make is reported back, which is one more reason I've shut myself in.

As for the birthday card incident - all I can figure is that they deduced where I would be celebrating (again, small town, with a limited number of venues) and checked them out until they found me. Creepy. But I have kept everything - I learned my lesson when I filed my complaint for protection and was able to back up my story with 10 pages of letters, emails, and transcripts.

I am sorry to hear that so many others have dealt with similar, but your stories give me hope. This person will not feed off of my fear and I will move past this.

Thank you for all the insight and advice. It really makes a difference.
posted by uh126 at 6:03 PM on December 16, 2007

I'm so glad that myspace wasn't around when I had my personal crazy person...

my advice, like most of the others here, is: ignore and avoid them. Of course, stop reading their myspace. If he was really seriously mental and set on getting you, he wouldn't care for a restraining order anyway. So him counting down the days just shows that he's a windbag that you don't have to be afraid of.

My crazy person waited for me with a kitchen knife on my front door when I wasn't there, probably just to tell a mutual friend who he was sure to tell it to me, to show how desperate he was.
But when I met him in the supermarket standing in a line, and he was trying to talk to me and I just stared through him and told him to go away, he did just that.
I never heard a word from him since.
posted by kolophon at 6:11 PM on December 16, 2007

I know that the things he is saying and writing about you and your loved ones is upsetting but I would seriously doubt anybody who reads that page or hears him talk thinks that the guy isn't wacky. Other people can see the crazy dripping off him, too, and understand that the stuff he is saying isn't true.

TryTheTilapia is totally right, you give him power over you by being fearful. I am sure you are a lot tougher than you are giving yourself credit for. When I am intimidated by someone I find scary, I try to imagine that they are two feet tall. I know it sounds really stupid but sometimes it shakes me into seeing someone in a different light and permanently diminishes my fear of them.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:49 PM on December 16, 2007

I'd recommend reading this. I'm a touch concerned that most of the answers posted suggest that you're in control of his behavior, but in fact he's the one with control. You can certainly control your reaction to him, but he's clearly a disturbed person, and your safety might be at risk (as I am sure you have considered).
posted by Capri at 4:51 AM on December 17, 2007

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