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#529: (un)Fun with tenses: You HAD an abuser. You HAVE a stalker.

This post is behind a cut due to intense discussion of sexual violence and stalking behavior.

Oh Captain, My Captain!

I was in an abusive relationship with a man who raped me multiple times. This was about three years ago, and for awhile I was on track with the healing process.

In the meantime, I was in a relationship with a different, sort-of nicer man for a year and a half, ending in late August/early September. Early on in our relationship, he found out that I had been raped. He had a freakout, etc etc, and we never really resolved the resulting issues.

After I managed to leave him, I went underground in the hopes of getting some space. He harassed me via social media and text for awhile, but lately he’s been in therapy and started leaving me alone.

Until yesterday, when he texted me. Long story short, he told me his therapist advised him to get closure by reporting to the authorities what he knows about me, because he has ptsd from dating me, because he has such strong convictions against abuse.

I don’t want him to do that. I really, really do not want that. I spent last night with my best friend having nonstop panic attacks while I explained to her what was going on. But he won’t listen to me; he says it’s HIS story he’s reporting, not mine.

I don’t know what to do. How can I stop him? I’ve told him he can’t, I’ve pleaded with him not to, I’ve asked him to tell his therapist I’m against it and talk it over again, I’ve given ground and said Talk about the harassment all you want, just don’t report the abuse.

How can I stop him? I’m breaking down.

-Panicked

Dear Panicked:

I do not know how to foil Ex #2′s plans to contact the cops about Ex #1, but I do have some general advice and I bet the readers here will also be able to offer information and support.

Here are some suggestions. I’ve numbered them for my own clarity, not because they should happen in this exact order. 

Step 1: Please stop responding to Ex #2 at all and block/filter & document all his communications to you. This is just another iteration of his stalking, harassing behavior from before. You successfully got away from him and stopped giving him your attention, so he found a surefire way to get your attention in the most horrible, violating, making-your-trauma-all-about-him fashion that has you responding multiple times and begging him to do something. You had a physically abusive ex, you HAVE a stalker. Let this be your mantra as you navigate what comes your way.

For the record, I seriously doubt his therapist (if there is even a therapist at this point) is advising him in this course of action. How will it create “closure” to throw a giant wrecking ball at your life? He doesn’t want closure. Closure would be anonymously donating a shitload of money to a domestic violence organization and leaving you in peace like you asked him to while he works out his own issues by himself.

Step 2: Call your local rape crisis center or hotline and talk this all through with someone, especially the legalities involved. What grounds do you have to insist that after successfully getting Ex #1 out of your life, the last thing you want to do is be involved in any kind of legal investigation that might bring him back into your orbit? Is his reporting of a three-year-old crime that didn’t happen to him against your wishes going to even have any effect or sway at all?

If you’re going to be panicked, you might as well be *informed* and panicked.

Step 3: IF you involve law enforcement or law enforcement comes calling, the problem to put on their plate is “I cut off contact with an ex, who has now emerged out of the blue and is threatening to reveal some very sensitive, private information about me over my fierce objections. Do you have any suggestions for how to avoid this? Can we document this harassment in case it escalates in some way?”

Only do this with advice of trained folks, but at the end of the day, you may just have to call his bluff. “I really don’t want you to do this, but what I really want is for you to leave me alone. Since this is about “closure” for you, there should be no reason for you to contact me again for any reason.” Say it once, then don’t respond to anything from him.

Step 4: Gather Team You and take evasive, protective action. Since you’ve successfully escaped two abusive relationships I imagine you are troublingly familiar with some of these tips, but I list them again here for a reason.

Ex #1 used actual physical violence to manipulate and control you. But Ex #2 is also trying to manipulate you and control you, and I think it is worth treating him as an equal threat to your safety and peace of mind. When you boil it down, Ex #2 would rather ignore your stated wishes than trust you to control your own destiny, including how you handle an abusive past AND whether you’d like to have him in your life at all at this point. He reframed what someone else did to you as something that was all about him – HIS story, HIS PTSD, HIS need for “closure.” When you told him about it, he “freaked out” and made it the most significant thing about you or the relationship. This is the opposite of caring or empowering. This is the opposite of safe.

He would probably be horrified if you told him this, because this White Knighting display is so he can differentiate himself from That Guy in your eyes. He thinks the comparison between him and Ex #1 is favorable, which is why he’s working so hard to keep the story of Ex #1 alive for you. When you’re getting your sense of self-worth from “Well, at least I didn’t rape you” and “Look, I got you to pay attention to me again! Terrified attention is better than no attention, right?” you are one seriously fucked up dude.

Actually, “fucked up” is too generous. It is downright uncanny how he found the single most terrifying thing in your life to use as his hook to bait you with. To get your attention and be in your life, he is willing to dredge up the worst thing that ever happened to you and use it as a signal flare. I would not ascribe ANY goodheartedness or good will to him. Resist the temptation to pity him or tell yourself he’s not that bad.  Pity is for later, when he’s gone.

So:

  • Tell your close friends what is going on and ask them to be vigilant and act as a buffer where possible.
  • If you live alone, maybe stay with someone or have someone stay with you if it will make you feel safer.
  • What’s security like where you live? Is it time to have the “Please don’t buzz people in if you’re not expecting anyone” talk with your neighbors? This is stressful and unfair, and maybe something a friend can help you with.
  • When you talk to the crisis center or police, see what they suggest telling your workplace or school, if anything. You want to make sure no one is giving out information about your whereabouts or schedule. Again, this is stressful and unfair. If you have a coworker you are close to, maybe ask them to go to HR with you. Sometimes just having someone by your side who believes you and can speak up if you get emotional can help.
  • Get a new cell phone number and give it out only to a small number of trusted people and ask them not to share it with anyone without checking with you first. But keep the old one active for now, including a texting plan – see if you can make it active as a Google Voice number or on a burner phone. Give the old phone/phone with the old # to a friend or family member for safekeeping. The logic here is that Ex #2 can text you or leave messages to his heart’s content. You have a record of them while also having a buffer against having to deal with them.
  • Readers: What else would you suggest?

Finally, repeat after me:

I do not deserve to be treated like this. I didn’t deserve the abuse when it happened, and I don’t deserve having some loser that I dumped putting all of his issues on me in some pathetic bid for my attention. Right now I am scared (rightly so) at the prospect of reliving the things I survived and weary (rightly so) at the unfairness of the financial, emotional, and social costs of insulating my life against his incursions. But I have defeated monsters before, I will defeat them again, and however this all shakes out, I will shine with the fierceness of 10,000 Beyoncés.

You will have a lot of people pulling for you, dear Panicked, and this is one of those times that we’d definitely like an update as time goes on if you’re up for it.

Much love from me & the Awkwardeers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About JenniferP

Chicago filmmaker, teacher, and blogger.

102 comments on “#529: (un)Fun with tenses: You HAD an abuser. You HAVE a stalker.

  1. I hope I didn’t miss that point: Definitely look into therapy (although in short term, rape crisis hotlines may also be ok) because you have to deal with a LOT right now and could use some professional support in this and probably also in the long term.

  2. I am not as wise as veteran Awkwardeers, but I just want to say that I am sorry you have been exposed to two people that have behaved so appallingly.
    We are all mentally on your bench, with pom-poms, giant foam fingers and deafening noisemakers of support.
    We can’t run this race for you, but we’ll bloody well be cheering you on.
    Jedi hugs/fistbumps, if you want them.

  3. LW, speaking as someone in law enforcement, I can generally say that the Captain’s script for the police is a good one. Also, no police force I am aware of would pursue this issue beyond first contact with you (which could be by phone and quite brief) if you state that you want nothing more to do with the issue. I would suggest if the police do contact you and you use some version of the provided script, you might want to seek police assistance in getting a hold of a victim services person in your area, who should be able help with extra support resources. You were victimized and deserve all the help any organization can provide. If you are physically safe now, and do not wish to press the issue the police can’t press it for you. Generally. (That’s not legal advice)

    I’m very sorry you had to go through this.

    • Victim Support services can also, (sometimes depending on where you live ymmv) offer counseling sessions.

      Again, very dependent on where you live and since this wasn’t mentioned in the letter it’s probably not a thing but I will suggest it to help anyone who needs it… If you are a minority ethnicity, or you speak English as your second language, there are sometimes special safety patrols for your race or who speak your language. Here in NZ I am aware of Maori Wardens, Samoan and Pacifica safety patrols and Asian safety patrols. They mostly patrol with police on weekend nights, someone will almost always be avaliable to help. While they are not police, they do work closely with them and know the official English terms to use if you’re struggling to be understood. And who would blame you if, for example, you just want a friendly face who understands your culture and speaks your language in a place which can be a bit overwhelming.

    • I’m gonna second this. The kid who lives with me has a similar situation happen, where she decided that getting into a protracted legal battle with her rapist ex-boyfriend wasn’t worth it, only to have one of her cousins call the police for her. The cops showed up, asked her about it, and she basically said, “Yes it happened, but I don’t want to press charges, please leave.” And he did. The end.

    • Yes, this has been my experience too (not as law enforcement but as someone who’s dealt with a not-dissimilar experience herself): I got a phone call from the police, they asked me about what happened, I said I didn’t wish to pursue it at this time, the officer gave me her email address in case I changed my mind, and that was it. Still upsetting, of course, for LW as zie doesn’t even want it to go that far (and I know that feeling), but I hope it’s a little reassuring that – even if Ex #2 does pull this stunt – the contact and follow-up is often very minimal, and sometimes nonexistent. I truly hope Team You will get you through this as gently as possible, LW. You’ve survived so much already, and this really, really sucks.

      *Jedi hugs*

    • Every state is different, but this was my experience. Unless I was in continuing danger or a child was involved, the police could not do anything without my say so. The elapsed time between my rape and report to the police was only one year, so I think the odds are good that it’s up to you if the police do anything at all.

    • Speaking as former law enforcement, current law student, I second all of this. (Also not legal advice; just info/opinion.)

      LW, I seriously doubt you’d be contacted at all by the police if Second Ex of Horrible went to them. For a couple of reasons, namely: Second Ex of Horrible is a third party to that situation! Statutes of limitations are legal things!

      If the police do contact you, you can seek their advice about getting that guy out of your life, or you can approach them to do that. You are completely within your rights, should they contact you, to tell them you don’t want to pursue the matter against First Ex of Extra-Horrible, and that should be the end of that. You might also wish to document all the times Second Ex has contacted you against your wishes, so you can give concrete dates, times, and what he said/did if you decide to report it to the police.

      ALL the moral support and best wishes.

  4. It’s so scary and upsetting when people do something like this to you. I am so angry on your behalf. Who is he to hold this over your head? An abusive stalker who you owe nothing. Nothing at all.

    If he does report this you don’t have to cooperate or play ball in any way. It’s perfectly fine to not want to get involved. It doesn’t make you a ”bad survivor” or anything else that your jerkbrain may shout at you. It’s your choice what to do and whatever you choose is right for you and I support you fully.

    I’ve gone through something similar. Someone on his moral high horse thought it was his responsibility to report my rape to the cops. There are no words that can explain the rage and fear I had. I’m so sorry that you probably know what I’m talking about. It isn’t fair. You don’t deserve any of this. I second ChildOfMedia that IME the police won’t push it any further if you don’t engage. (Not legal advice, just my experience.)

    Oh look, what’s over there? It’s the boatload of cuddly jedi hugging-kittens I’m sending your way.

  5. Good advice really! Personally I think a hear-say witness to an old crime is not going to make the police investigate seriously, so I’d try to calm down and ignore it (although I understand it’s easier said than done). If they do call, tell them your Ex#2 is a stalker, a liar, and a psychopath and you refuse to answer anything that has to do with him or comes from him. They can’t very well force you to report a crime if you don’t want to.

    One point is important to drive home to friends, neighbours, colleagues: “You have my trust, you get my number. Do not pass it on. Ever! If you do without asking me first, you lose that trust and you are off the list of people I trust. For ever. Now repeat after me… ”

    I had a telephone stalker once. I got rid of him, police and all, got a new number (before cell phones were popular) gave it to my boyfriend with the explicit instructions and one of the first calls I get is a “joke call” from a common friend of ours. Turns out my bf found it ok to pass the number on to a known friend (“but you know him, he’s your friend too”) and said friend found it insanely funny to use it to make a joke call. Can you imagine how furious I got at both of them? Some people are just bloody jerks about it and think the rule does not apply to them. Same for parents btw. They seem to think they have special rights to decide for you.

    • Jae, I’m so sorry that happened to you. What a betrayal of trust, that your bf would ignore your instructions and your friend would think that was a good time to mess with you. They weren’t acting like friends, and I’m glad you stood up for yourself.

      I’m not sure that calling Ex #2 “a stalker, a liar and a psychopath” to the police would be a good idea. He may be all those things, but it’s such an extreme thing to say that I’d be concerned that the police would hear it as just ratcheting up the drama.

      LW, it seems like it would be effective just to tell the police these simple facts: you have no desire to pursue the matter. You communicated this to Ex #2 before he contacted them. He is acting against your clearly stated wishes. He did not witness anything. He has literally zero involvement.

      I share the Captain’s skepticism that Ex #2′s therapist told him to do this. How would reporting a crime to the police create “closure”? It would be starting a process, not closing anything. My suspicion is that he’s either making it up about this idea coming from the therapist, or he told the therapist something, like pretending to be a witness or something, that would make it seem less like None Of His Business For Crying Out Loud.

      Because that is what this is. NONE OF HIS BUSINESS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. He’s insisting that your having been raped before he even knew you is *his story.* For crying out loud! No matter how extreme his emotional manipulation gets, that makes no sense. He’s entitled to tell himself his own story, and it can be whatever story he likes, but he’s not entitled to make you act out an assigned role as a player in that story.

      I hope you are able to talk to a rape crisis counselor in your area and get some advice. Both on how to talk with the police (and I am so much hoping for you that these are idle threats and it doesn’t come to that), and on how to deal with Ex #2, in terms of safety planning and/or counseling. His behavior towards you is completely unacceptable and I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this.

      • I actually do think that telling the police Ex#2 is stalking the LW is important. I would also spell out that Ex2 is threatening the LW. Both of those are criminal behaviors, and they should be part of the record of what’s happening…especially if (and I shudder to think this) the stalking behavior continues beyond this point.

        • Stalker, yes, “psychopath” not so much. Whether or not it’s accurate it’s unlikely to be helpful. While I definitely think reporting the stalking is a good idea so it’s on record, that comes under the LW’s personal comfort level.

    • Seconded regarding the police. As a general rule, I tend to be distrustful of police responses to sensitive situations, however, police do not like being used, and they’re likely to think a report like that is strange, and my guess is if you tell them you broke up with the guy making the report and he’s responded by doing stuff like this and stalking you (all of which is true), I’d be surprised if they pushed it, or even asked if the things he was saying were true.

      And even if you confirmed the truth of it, I’d be surprised if they went very far on it. An old crime of intimate partner violence that the survivor doesn’t want to be involved in? Doesn’t really sound like the police’s cup of tea.

      Hang in there!

      • “[M]y guess is if you tell them you broke up with the guy making the report and he’s responded by doing stuff like this and stalking you (all of which is true), I’d be surprised if they pushed it, or even asked if the things he was saying were true.”

        This makes a lot of sense. When talking to the police–if they even reach out to you–you shouldn’t need to either confirm or deny the truth of anything BF#2 has told them. You can simply tell them that BF#2 was not a witness to any events regarding BF#1 that he may have asserted, and there is nothing you yourself wish to report about BF#1. At that point, it is hard to imagine the police doing anything other than dropping the matter.

        • It actually might be useful to confirm with, “Yes, but I have no interest in pressing charges and explicitly asked my ex not to report this” so that they have it on record in case the ex’s behavior does escalate at some point.

        • I wouldn’t even go that far with him not being a witness, that sounds evasive. I’d just say, I broke up with him, he’s been stalking me, and now he’s doing this. I’d really like him to leave me alone.

          • at which point, if the contacting officer is on the ball, you may get an offer to come take a report about your stalking jackass ex and info on next steps available to you. bonus!

  6. Maybe this was too obvious to mention, but can I point out what utter BS Mr. Stalker’s claim that he got PTSD from just hearing about your rape is? It strikes me as a ploy to trump your traumatic experience with a “traumatic” experience of his own. As the good Captain says, it’s a way of making it all about him.

    I’m sending you lots of wishes/prayers/whatever that you can get this creep out of your life with a minimum of damage to you.

    • Yeah, if anything was traumatic it sounds like it was being confronted with the idea that he wasn’t the most important person in the room right then. Here his then-GF was, having a past that wasn’t about him, and no amount of him freaking out would MAKE it about him!. Eesh.

      • I had the same thought, Staranise. Narcissism at its worst, and at such huge expense to the LW. :(

        I recently stumbled across an old letter at Salon (*facepalm* I know) about a man seeking advice because he “can’t get past” his wife’s assault from 20 years ago, before they were a couple. It shocked me that anyone could be so self-centred (which his particular position truly was), but reading what LW is dealing with makes me realize it’s not such a unique situation. Which is wretched. :-/

    • I wouldn’t say it’s impossible for someone to get PTSD from hearing about someone else’s rape–it could fall into the category of secondary trauma–but the person suffering from the primary trauma is still the one in charge of her story. If Ex #2 needed counshow, fine–but being a creepy stalker and going against her wishes is not fine. (For example, I’ve gotten pretty messed-up reading about crimes. Nothing wrong with getting those feelings out through writing and listening to music and talking it out. But it would be messed up if I showed up on the victim’s family’s doorstep telling them to comfort ME.)

      • Counseling, not “counshow.” Silly phone.

        I also absolutely agree that Ex #2 is probably lying and being manipulative about at least part of this story.

      • I personally experienced secondary trauma from hearing about a friend’s rape (by someone I had dated but who hadn’t raped me, and survivor guilt was part of the trauma), so it certainly can happen. However, there are some key differences between how I handled that and how Ex2 handled it. I didn’t force my friend to deal with my trauma; I got help elsewhere and didn’t even tell her about it until something like 25 years later when she brought up the subject of the long-ago day she told me about her rape. Given the amount of time that had passed and how well she had worked through things, it didn’t retraumatise her for me to tell her about my difficult response to finding out and how I dealt with that 25 years ago. In other words, I kept her story about her, even though it had led to a smaller story of my own. I treated her with respect.

        • Seconded. As I posted over in the Forums, I was triggered for a couple days when I learned about a friend’s assault recently. It flashed me back to my own experiences with abuse, and I was down and anxious for a few days. But I handled it on my own, and never once mentioned this to Friend, nor will I. That’s the last thing Friend needs. So yes, Ex #2 might have been legitimately upset to hear about it. But I’m very skeptical about the PTSD claim, and his contacting LW to insist on reporting is complete manipulative BS.

        • Yeah, absolutely. To be able to become your friend’s ally even after being triggered is tough, and commendable. Ex #2 is decidedly doing the opposite here. I’ve had both kinds of people in my life when trying to assemble Team Me after a traumatic experience; thank you for being one of the “good ones” for your friend, Jill.

    • If it doesn’t already, I think the Captain’s policy regarding not diagnosing strangers on the internet should extend to not attempting to refute the diagnoses of strangers on the internet, as well. The question of whether or not he has PTSD changes nothing about this situation.

      • WP ate my longer reply, but tl;dr: I could not disagree more with this comment. I think that a general rule about giving people the benefit of the doubt is good, but I think it’s a terrible idea to say that we can never call someone a liar when it seems very much like their claims are lies.

        People with disabilities and illnesses – particularly mental illnesses – are often called liars and told that they are faking and exaggerating their symptoms. But abusers, narcissists in particular, do create diagnoses, especially around abusive behavior. It’s a way to demand attention and shield themselves and their abusive behavior from criticism. (I’ve also heard people claiming that “narcissist” and “sociopath,” are disorders and thus shouldn’t be used as “armchair diagnoses,” which I think is ludicrous.)

        I think it’s very, very important to be able to point to lies.

        This story sounds like a lie – a very well-crafted lie by a manipulative liar. I don’t think it’s ableist to say that this therapist probably does not exist; that if this therapist exists, this therapist almost certainly did not diagnose this guy with PTSD; that if this therapist did diagnose this guy with PTSD, they most definitely did not recommend that this guy take his ex-girlfriend’s story to law enforcement. It’s possible, but it’s really unlikely. That’s important to evaluating this guy’s character – shameless liar – and to figuring out how to respond to him.

        Lies are a common abusive tactic, and the ability to perceive and attack lies is one of the first things abusers take away from their victims. The power of “Huh?” It’s important to hang onto that sense that things are not right, don’t make sense.

  7. CA already mentioned calling a rape hotline which sounds like a good idea. I wanted to mention too that if there’s any rape/abuse/victim support facilities in your community/work/school, it might help to contact them. My campus has a facility that specifically deals with abuse and stalking that’s separate from the regular counseling centre. They have free counseling, they know about dealing with the police and they help with implementation of logistics like the captain addressed above. If there’s anything like that around, working with them might help your stress level a bit.

    Also, you probably already know this, but don’t be afraid to call services because you feel like your situation isn’t severe enough. Just call anyway and explain your situation if you think talking to someone would be helpful.

    • Seconded. It doesn’t have to be an immediate “crisis” to warrant a call. A crisis is anything that is bothering you to the extent that you want to call a crisis line. They will be understanding and nonjudgmental.

  8. I noticed that LW used the word “authorities” rather than police.

    Is Ex #1 a public/community figure or a person with public responsibilities? A person whose lack of integrity might be of interest to the public and press? In which case Ex #2′s threat to go to the authorities might be about creating scandal and chaos for LW.

    • I think this is a really significant possibility that I totally hadn’t thought of. Signal boosting – this could be really game-changing. The police wouldn’t pursue it if LW didn’t want it pursued, but I bet the press would if Ex#1 were some kind of public figure. How could that be dealt with if it were the case?

      • fortunately he is not, although it is an interesting question. i think that would probably make it even harder to deal with.

  9. Oh man, LW, I am so so sorry you are going through this. You deserve so much better. I am sending you tons of Jedi hugs & kittens & things.

  10. I’m with the Captain — he is almost certainly wildly misrepresenting what is going on in his therapy.

    And all you have to do is look at what he’s saying to you to get that this guy is the King of Self-Serving Lies right now. He has “such strong convictions against abuse” that he’s just SO DRIVEN to bully and stalk an abuse victim because his conscience is SO pure and noble?

    This is standard domestic abuser patter. One, in that something about you is “forcing” him to be a bully. Two, in that as long as he can point to someone who acts worse (your rapist ex), he is therefore the Good One and everything he does is therefore fine. There’s a book that breaks this down very well — “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft.

    • I just want to second the recommendation for “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. I first heard about it here, read it, found through that book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” and between the two of them, they helped me to recognize that my over-a-decade-long relationship and marriage had been emotionally abusive*. Which helped me to heal, and stop feeling guilty.

      *As I said to my current husband, it’s one thing to look at a list of abusive behaviors and say “OMG, *I* do that sometimes, I need to be aware and STOP THAT” and another to go through every item on the list and say “Ex did that and that and that and that and that.”

  11. Step 1 is actually very good. You shouldn’t leave your emotional abuser any opportunity to contact you via phone or social media because he’ll just try to suck you in again. You can easily block him from Facebook, and block his number. He’ll eventually take the hint and move on to the next victim as horribly as it sounds.
    Also, I don’t believe the guy you talked to is a therapist. He’s just probably a friend of the idiot and it’s just a lame scheme after they read something on the internet. PTSD is a very serious condition that occurs after one or more traumatic events, like sexual assault or serious injury or almost dying. You’re the one who went through a traumatic event, not him hearing you talking about it. It’s actually outrageous to think he came up with such a story.
    I doubt he’ll go to the police. And even if he goes he’ll totally sound like a stalker and I don’t think he would want to risk that.
    I hope everything will be ok and you’ll stay strong and get through this situation.

    • LW didn’t say anything about talking to the ex’s alleged therapist directly. This is all secondhand from the ex, who is almost certainly lying about what the therapist said and is possibly lying about even having a therapist.

  12. Oh my god… Second hand PTSD? I call bullshit. The Captain has the right of it – this is just his way of making it all about him, and an attempt (successful, I might add) at keeping a hook in your skin. Disengage, disengage, disengage.

    • I think Ex #2 is getting a really bad rap here.

      I’ve had people come to me and say, “Hey, I’m being horribly abused, and I get to make you listen to my horror stories all I want, but I won’t let you actually help me at all or protect my abuser’s future victims by reporting my abuser.”

      Nasty, Nasty Shit to have someone else’s horrors forced on you and be made helpless to do anything about it. If Ex#2 is a sensitive soul, PTSD sounds reasonable.

      • Oh daphne, no.

        The LW says that Ex #2 semi-stalked her after they broke up and is going to therapy partly in order to learn how to leave her the fuck alone. However Ex #2 feels about what happened to the LW in the past, he is harassing her in the present, because that’s what you call it when you ask someone to never talk to you again and they keep inserting themselves into your life against your wishes. His reasons are immaterial. His actions are traumatizing the LW and need to stop.

        Of course violence affects more people than just the victim, and of course empathy-having people have emotional reactions to hearing about others’ traumatic experiences, but those emotional reactions are not the abuse victim’s job to manage. Do you even hear yourself? A friend coming to you in a time of need is “forcing” their horrors on you? Instead of worrying about their state of mind, safety, what they need to do to take care of themselves, you’re going to sign them up for some super-hero shit against their will to make yourself feel better, and invoke the abuser’s future victims to do it? “I know you’re going through the worst thing in your life right now, but you have a duty to ME and to SOCIETY, especially now that you made me listen to all of that. Won’t someone think of SOCIETY?

        If you are not a good sounding board for friends who are going through abusive situations, it’s okay to set boundaries around that. “I want to support you but I’m not in a good place to hear about this right now. Can I help you find another resource to talk to? Can I be the friend you come to for comforting distractions?” Running this site, I need to take breaks from that or manage my exposure to such stories myself, and can empathize with that need.

        But overall, it’s time for you to 1) review Ring Theory of how to handle your emotions around someone in crisis (short version, it’s okay to need help handling the emotions around another person’s crisis and trauma, but it is NOT OKAY to ask the person at the center of the crisis to manage those for you) and 2) to find another blog to comment on. Not every point of view is valid and needs extensive discussion, and this thread is not about support for secondary trauma or about you.

      • CA’s response to this comment is spot-on, so there’s not much more to add beyond the observation that trying to view Ex #2 as “a sensitive soul,” even hypothetically, reads as a radical (mis)interpretation of the text. As long as there’s benefit of the doubt to be extended I suggest it be used to support the LW rather than trying to warp it to cast her shitty ex in a sympathetic light.

      • Speaking of secondary trauma, this comment made me feel like I was going to be sick.

        As someone who has experienced sexual violence and who also has had a number of people “share their horrors” with me, daphne you are not a safe person for survivors to be around. Please don’t let them share their stories with you (and use the Captains supplied words, not your own – you are unlikely to be able to choose words with care), because the last thing they need is to be re-traumatised by you trying to force your ‘help’ on them by pushing them to go through the reporting process when they’ve come to you looking for empathy and support (not to mention your horrific shaming methods re: protecting their abusers future victims, what the hell).

        Captain, I am a long time reader but first time commenter and I’m not sure if my comment is a bit off-topic, but I thought if LW is reading this (along with any other survivors) having this person publicly NOPE’d at, the more the better (I know I feel better for writing it ).

      • Such a “sensitive soul” is Ex #2 that he’s making LW’s horrible trauma all about him and using it to force his way back into her life. Yes, *that* makes sense.

      • I think “make you listen to my horror stories” is a bit dramatic don’t you think? You always have the option of being an adult, ie walking away, interrupting and changing the subject or even telling them you are too emotionally fragile to deal with anything bad in their live.

  13. OK, Ex #2 is quite literally one of the worst people in the world. I second the Captain in that is HIGHLY unlikely that his therapist recommended that he seek “closure” for YOUR abuse by reporting it to the authorities without your consent. Like, that is one giant crock of Shit That Never Happened. I know that doesn’t make what you’re going through any easier, but I think you can rest assured that he does not have a third party (therapist or otherwise) backing him up on this. This is not something he needs to do for his own health and well-being. I’m confident this is an outright lie he is telling you as an excuse to insert himself back into your life and to control you.

    I almost can’t believe the horrific level of violation this guy is subjecting you to. Whatever his personal issues are, he is very clearly willing to go to any lengths to manipulate you into giving him attention. He is a dangerous dangerous person and all the Captain’s advice about removing him from your life as thoroughly as possible is bang on. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It’s not your fault and you don’t deserve it in any way, shape or form. Gather a strong Team You to your side and be extra gentle with yourself as you navigate this. Awkwardeers are rooting for you!

  14. Yikes. Wow, LW, that’s really hard and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it.

    I don’t have a lot of advice to give; I would definitely have a hard time dealing with that as well. I just want to back up the Captain that this is Not Your Fault. You don’t deserve any of this and what Ex#2 is doing right now is Not Okay. I highly doubt any therapist is recommending this absurd course of action to him, and if they are then they are not getting the whole story. No therapist worthy of the name would recommend dragging a third party through trauma just to “get closure”. Most therapists know you can’t “get closure” in that way anyway.

    Again, this sounds like it’s really horrible and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. Be gentle with yourself.

  15. Whew. This situation is horrifying. I am so sorry that you have to experience this.

    Please call a rape crisis or domestic violence help line for some experienced support. I want to say that there is NO WAY that the police will take his report seriously – since they do not take women’s first hand accounts of sexual assault seriously either, for the most part – but since he is a dude, the systematic sexism might work in his favour. IF this happens, and law enforcement contacts you, I do not know that they could compel you to open the case against your rapist, especially that the physical evidence is long gone. Even in juristictions where a rape kit is done, literally tens of thousands of those kits sit warehoused and untested, due to “budget constraints”.

    Please save all records of his harassing texts, social media, etc. If you don’t want this content in your house, give the files to a trusted friend. In case his negative behaviour escalates, these records will be important to prove his history of abusive stalking.

    His self-centered reaction to YOUR assault is so warped. I cannot imagine a qualified therapist who could support his belief that he has to ride in on his white horse to save/fix you – since you are somehow “not capable” of dealing with your own experience or history. And the PTSD as a result of your disclosure – oh please. Yes, it is certainly possible for a person to be hurt, traumatized or strongly affected by the telling of another person’s traumatic experience, or even watching a terrible world event unfold, like the Dec.26 tsunami from a few years back, for example – this happens to people who have empathy. This guy is not showing ANY empathy here, and has/is violating your social space. If he was so outraged about your abusive ex, why didn’t he stalk and harass HIM, and try to warn any women the ex was involved with ? His ego-centric response seems so MRA – on several levels. Your relationship with him was fine until you disclosed your history – then you became damaged goods or something ? He feels your disclosure damaged him – because his moral ground for not tolerating abuse is so much higher than yours ? Did he blame you for not being able to tell at a glance that your ex was going to be abusive, too ? Ask you why did you stay, etc.etc. ? Then he becomes obsessed with (his) notion of bringing your abuser to justice – while blaming you for his PTSD ? He is trying to tell you what you should feel and think while blaming you for his issue = messed up. So messed up. And WTF with demanding as as part of his “closure” ? “The Myth of Closure” was a paper that sent dramatic ripples through many psychotherapists/psychologists’ train of thought. Any therapist in practice in English speaking countries has probably read or discussed this new concept in passing with a colleague at least once.

    Do you know the name of his therapist ? I don’t know how safe/unsafe it might be to contact his therapist to tell them that their client is behaving in a threatening/stalkerish manner. No doubt, whatever he has told his therapist has been processed through the same extremely warped filter, where he is the real victim of your assault.

    Ugh. Stay strong. We are all here for you. You did nothing to deserve this abuse.

  16. I have nothing of substance to add to the Captain’s advice.

    I will say this – I think that your desire to leave the horrible things that happened to you in the past is perfectly valid, and no one, but NO ONE has the right to attempt to force you to relive it. That is just evil. Pure evil. Your second ex is just as evil as the first.

    Lots of Jedi Hugs to you. I hope this is laid to rest relatively soon for you, and you do not have to live in terror.

  17. Dear LW, this sounds like a really awful situation. It’s not your fault. These are awful, awful people you’re dealing with. You have all my sympathy.

    I wanted to reiterate the Captain’s advice of reframing how you are thinking about this situation. You are not dealing with an ex here. You are dealing with a stalker. You are dealing with a stalker who is desperate to get your attention and who is willing to hurt you in the worst way possible to do so.

    I recommend reading the “stalker” posts here on the site and also just perhaps reading about stalkers and keeping safe from them in other venues, just to help you reframe how you are thinking about this situation. This is not a situation where you should be talking to your ex. This is not a situation where you have any control over what he does.

    Like many other people here, I doubt the actual existence of this “therapist” he’s been claiming has advised this shitty abusive behavior for the purpose of “closure” (but if such a therapist exists, they are an Evil Therapist). In the end, though, whether or not this therapist exists does not matter. What matters is that your ex is using this story as an excuse to behave like a stalker, to torment you and get your attention, and your best recourse is to treat him like that stalker and withdraw that attention.

    It really, really, really, really REALLY FUCKING REALLY SUCKS when people we have trusted then betray that trust in order to hurt us. That is what your stalker is doing and it’s understandable that you want to stop this by any means possible. But you cannot control what he does. All you can do is control how you respond, and the best thing to do is to stop giving him attention.

    Stay safe. Take care of yourself. This is really not your fault. Betrayal is betrayal wherever you find it.

  18. LW, I am sorry this is happening to you.

  19. I don’t have much to offer but sympathy, but I know what you’re going through. My rapist contacted me once a year for several years after I cut off contact. My abusive father has been contacting me weekly/monthly despite changing numbers, changing my name, moving, etc… One of my childhood abusers contacted me less on a schedule, and always with some plausible excuse. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this it’s that they’ll use any leverage they have, real or imagined, to get close to you. For my dad it was finances, for the others it was varying social-circle problems that DRASTICALLY needed my attention. They will make something up. It may sound valid and urgent, because it’s supposed to. Usually, though, if you’re already away from them it’s just a desperate grab for a scrap of your attention, and most of what they’re attempting to construct as a crisis won’t hold water.

    LW, in my mind one of the best things you can do is arm yourself with information. Think this through as factually as you can. As the Captain says, if he actually goes to the police, he’s reporting secondhand a crime that happened to you, which means if they take it seriously at all, the police will go to you to confirm and see what YOU want to do about it. Most likely they’ll ask him to get you to come in rather than going to you personally, and if that’s a problem for Stalker? Seriously suspicious. Much less “concerned friend” than red flag.

    It’s important to know where you stand. I know it’s terrifying even to know you’re still on his mind. I know exactly how it feels to think you’re free and have the past thrown back in your face. But if you starve him of attention, his plans will probably deflate. And if they don’t? They will still deflate, because the cops have seen abusers before, and if they talk to you for five minutes they know exactly what’s going on. You will have control over the situation. He does not have power over you.

    You have my sympathy and my support. Best of luck.

  20. I don’t know how comfortable you would be with this LW, and I understand that sometimes money can be an issue, but if you wanted you could also look into legal council. I know there are often services which provide free or cheap counselling sessions, which could be beneficial for three reasons: first you have someone to speak with/reassure you about the relative (ill)legality of #2′s behaviour towards you; you already have the number and name of someone to call in the event that you have to deal with the police; and in that vein, you have a lawyer already familiar with your position in the event that #2 escalates his behaviour and you want to know your options/press charges. I don’t think this is necessary, but I don’t think you should feel discouraged about pursuing it if it would make you more comfortable.

  21. I am really sorry this happened to you – the abuse, the stalking, the psycho ex-boyfriend(s). As others have said, the police are unlikely to do anything about this so I wouldn’t worry about it. A third-party report of what an ex-girlfriend told him is not going to mean anything to the police because they can’t do anything with that in terms of investigation. You are the key witness as the person who was victimized here and if you refuse to file a report/cooperate, then nothing will happen. So don’t worry about that.

    I think your story illustrates a couple of things:

    1. No contact is your friend. Not responding to someone who is stalking you is generally the best course of action.

    2. Calling someone’s bluff is sometimes the best response if you must respond at all. Telling this guy to do what he feels he needs to do and then blocking him from contacting you would have sucked the wind out of his sails like a vacuum. He wanted to engage with you and he found just the right way to do it by threatening to report this and then turning it into something about him as his reason. He wants you to respond to him and he got what he wanted.

    Follow the Captain’s advice, it’s good stuff. Good luck and I’m totally rooting for you!!

  22. I think everyone else has the advice well covered, but this is just so awful I can’t even. So many Jedi hugs for you, LW, if you want them.

  23. LW, I am being hugely repetitive and not terribly original. But. It bears repeating: I am so sorry that all this has happened. Ex2 has not acted with the slightest amount of generosity, credibility or even common decency. Leaving the issue of whether he could or could not claim personal trauma for your assault with any degree of justification–because while I am not convinced, I have read of instances where things do trigger people–he has handled his reaction in such a spectacularly selfish, narcissistic, manipulative and abusive fashion. I am honestly surprised that he was not cast in Pacific Rim as a default motion capture stand in for the rampaging foetal Kaiju. Please stay well and be well and accept my best hopes and wishes.

  24. Technical suggestion / PSA: if you have a smartphone it may have number blocking natively built into the operating system. Apple finally added it with iOS 7 and they seem to have read de Becker – texts or iMessages from a blocked number appear to have been delivered from the sender’s perspective and go in a separate place you won’t see unless you look for it. Calls ring from the caller’s end and then go to voicemail, and the voicemails are also saved but hidden. It’s easy and free!

    Other smartphones might have a similar feature, so definitely consider checking.

  25. Oh LW that is a horrible situation! :-(

    I just wanted to signal boost the recommendation to talk to some professional people with real information about the legal situation, such as a counsellor or rape crisis hotline or similar. Partly because this stuff varies so much by where you live in the world. But also because right now you’re probably imagining horrible worst case scenarios of being dragged into unwanted legal action and contact with your abuser. The sooner you can get information about what will really happen if ex #2 goes to the police the sooner you can be relieved that it’s not as bad as you feared. If it is bad you’ll at least know in what way and can prepare for it (though I suspect the commenters are right and nothing will come of his report, if he even makes one).

    The worst thing for feeding anxiety is a lack of information about something potentially awful.

    I really hope this is over with soon and that ex #2 vanishes back into whatever hole he crawled out of.

  26. Ugh. I can understand being traumatised by someone else’s experience – people can find all kinds of things deeply traumatising, depending on their personality and their own past experiences.

    But none of that has anything to do with how terribly he has acted and is acting towards you. Feelings are one thing, and I don’t think anyone needs to justify feelings (nor do we have complete control over them anyway), but actions are another thing entirely, and this guy’s actions are totally horrible and wrong. And his actions are something he DOES have complete control over.

  27. LW, I am so sorry this is happening to you.

    I think the advice here is solid.

    I also think that, in this, it is time to become selfish. Right now, you matter most. Your safety first. Your needs outweigh others’. Whatever you have to do to take care of yourself is the thing to do. You are already doing a lot! You have friends to lean on, you are asking for advice, this is good, good stuff.

    But it’s hard to put ourselves first, sometimes. I can’t tell if you struggle with it, but just in case, I’ll say it again.

    Your safety first. Your security first.

    • Your safety first. Your security first.
      LW, print those two sentences out in giant boldface underlined font and stick them somewhere you can see them every day. It’s going to be hard for you to keep prioritizing yourself first when you’re up against this jerk who’s so adept at making everything ALL ABOUT MEEEEEEEEE! but you can do it.
      I’m sending you so much love right now. And Jedi hugs, if you want them.

  28. Hey, LW here. Thank you for all of the support and advice. I have blocked him as much as possible on social media platforms, and I am going to block his phone number tonight. Probably as soon as I finish this reply. When he was first harassing me, after we broke up, I considered changing my number, but decided the cons outweighed the pros. I didn’t think he would take it this far, but clearly I was wrong. I will be changing my number as soon as I can.

    Today he said he is sorry for upsetting me, and he will include me as little as possible/ use a fake name if he can, and that he is going to focus on Ex #1′s harassment of him more than on me. So I’m hoping maybe I took it the wrong way and/or out of context. But I am still going to follow this advice and take preventative action to be on the safe side.

    I am mostly afraid because Ex #1 was accused of rape by another person before me, and so it is conceivable there is (or will in the future be) a legal case against him that I could now be subpoena’d for. Those of you who work in law enforcement etc – is that likely? Or am I blowing it out of proportion?

    Thank you again for all of your advice and support.

    • Glad to hear you’re doing okay. I do not have legal advice — and it’s still very out of line/bizarre for him to be focussing on you at all in charges /he/ is attempting to press? I’d think? So changing your number does sound like a Good Idea to me even still. Good luck with everything.

    • Hey LW, Jedi hugs for all the crap you’re being put through. I’m not sure what Ex #2 is playing at with the ‘I will include you as little as possible’ because, ehm, he contacted you and dragged you into this thing which is like maximum inclusion? Anyway, I hope you never hear from him or the whole thing again.

      As for the likely scenario re: law enforcement, it would be useful to know what country you are in. For example, over here (I worked at a court), if Ex #2 is going to report that Ex #1 harassed *him*, you have nothing to do with it. If he’s going to go ‘Ex #1 harassed me and he’s raped women! I know two of them and you have one of those on file already!’ the police are gonna go ‘Those are two separate cases, i.e. 1) your harassment and 2) rape. If the new victim comes in, we can work on the rape, but that really has nothing to do with your case.’ They wouldn’t even look you up. But if you’re in the USA, I don’t know if things would be different? I would imagine it would be roughly the same.

    • Hey LW, massive *jedi hugs* for you. What a shitty shitty situation, and you have all the sympathies.

      With the ‘I’ll involve you as little as possible!’ line, I’ve seen this before. It’s an abuser move I dub the boomerang manouver. Effectively, threaten to do thing #1, that is truely awful and terrible and they know will hurt you an inordinate amount. The victim freaks out, panics, generally is absolutely terrified.

      Abuser than recants and says they’ll do thing #2 instead. Thing #2 still isn’t good – it’s not pleasant for the victim, it’s stll hurtful and painful and massively oversteps their boundaries and is waaaaay out of line, and had the abuser come up out of nowhere and proclaimed they were doing #2, they’d have been all kinds of freaked out. But because the abuser has said they’ll do thing #2 as a step down from so-much-worse #1, it can provoke feelings of gratitude and sympathy that are really really not deserved. If anything, that fact that your ex has used it actually puts more nails in the coffin, not less. It’s an incredibly calculated move, designed to get him sympathy and backpatting points for stomping all over your needs and boundaries. Please please please be aware of this. Treat with extreme caution. This guy obviously knows what he’s doing, he’s NOT genuine, and had he been, his reaction would have been ‘shit, I’ll leave you alone and find some other way to handle whatever the fuck is going on with me’, NOT what he’s doing.

      Stay safe, and I hope things get better. *moar jedi hugs*

      • I cannot possibly agree with this comment more. I think of it as a reverse bait and switch. Bait and switch is making a promise of awesome thing that once you agree to it gets changed out for decidedly less awesome thing you’d never have agreed to. The reverse is threatening pure awfulness then changing to somewhat downgraded awfulness, which is what they were planning to do in the first place, they just wanted you to feel relieved or begrudgingly agreeable about it instead of furious.

        Like, say you do not get along with your partner’s cousin at all, and do not want them in your home because they are super toxic. Partner says they are coming to stay for a week. You flip your shit. A day or so later, partner stands corrected, cousin is actually just coming for one night. Partner knew this all along, but partner also knew that you’d adamantly say no to even one night unless that one night was up against the back drop of a whole week with cousin in your home. Framing it in such a way is designed to get you to agree to something you never, ever wanted, and to feel relieved about something that violates your boundaries just because it’s not as bad as it could have been, even though what could have been was not going to happen.

      • Yes this. If this really WERE all about closure, dude would have just called up the police and left LW out of it. If checking in with the LW were about seeing if it was okay, he would have dropped it. This seems to me much more about getting a reaction/getting back into the LW’s life.

      • Seconding this. The farther you get from him the sweeter he’s going to try to act. It’s not because he’s changing, it’s because he’s trying every tactic he thinks will work.

      • Absolutely correct. Also, consider this: the police are always there. It’s not like there’s a barrier to Ex2 talking to them. Ex2 has talked to you about going to them. But it doesn’t seem like he’s actually gone to them. Why not? Maybe because he wants to talk about it with you,not actually do it. The more he talks to you about it, the more clear it becomes that he is using this against you, not actually at all interested in working with the police.

    • Hi Panicked. I’m a rape crisis volunteer. Unfortunately I’m in the UK. I can say that here, that would fall under the category of ‘technically possible under some circumstances, but extremely rare, and from what I understand of your situation in particular, really not likely’. Please do get local advice, but I hope that is reassuring to hear. In general, it is be extremely difficult for police to proceed with a case in which you are the victim against your wishes.

      Honestly, with all of his vagueness about you being named/pseudonymous/anonymous, not to mention not being sure what exactly it is he’s actually going to report, it sounds like your ex is just throwing stuff out there to see if it will stick. I actually wonder whether he’ll bother to do anything at all if he’s not in contact with you about it, as getting reactions out of you seems to be his primary motivation (which is not to say he won’t pursue trying to get contact with you via third parties in a distressing way :/). It’s an incredibly good hook, it must take a lot of strength to resist being keyed in to that story so you can know what’s going on and whether it’s going to potentially impact you. I’m glad to hear you’ve decided to cut contact despite that, I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do and I hope you can get some good advice and support to help you with that.

      I hope things improve for you really soon.

    • Hi, LW. The advice contained elsewhere in the thread about having conversations with the police regarding the situation are pretty spot on. If they come to you about what Ex1 did to Stalker, tell them the truth about what you know. If they ask you about what Ex1 did to you, you’re not interested in pursuing any of that, thanks. But you are interested in Stalker leaving you alone–can they help with that?

      It is possible, given Ex 1′s behavior, that there might be a legal case down the road, but try not to worry about that too much at this point. That would require (1) charges, (2) a case the DA wants to prosecute (3) a refusal to plead out on the part of Ex 1, (4) you having relevant evidence, and (5) a trial date. It’s a long way down a road that you might not ever have to take. Get yourself some help to get stable and safe, block Stalker in every way possible, and if that situation arises, reach out to Team You and the prosecutor to see what additional support you can get from the system. But, really, the court case does not sound likely or imminent at this point; try not to be too concerned about it.

    • Please don’t doubt yourself on your instincts around Ex #2! It doesn’t matter if he’s “focusing on Ex #1′s harrassment of him” etc, (which, btw, what harrassment? His vicarious harrassment through the abuse in YOUR past? Again…WUT?!) The bottom line is, Ex #2 is taking your terrible experience and manipulating it to suit his needs, be it “closure for your relationship” (which I highly doubt, and is a very inappropriate way to go about moving on) or, more likely, as a way to stay in contact with you and still be “important” to you in some way.

      LW, he does not, in any way, have any kind of right to your life or your experiences. I don’t care what he meant, what the context was…LW, he is using something very painful from your life for his own purposes. And that is not cool, at all. Healthy people don’t do this, and you are NOT blowing his actions out of proportion. They’re creepy, they’re invasive, and they’re downright insulting. Please keep repeating to yourself that this situation is a part of your life, and is therefore yours to decide what to do with.

      I highly suggest finding several prosecuting attorneys that have free consultations and getting their legal take on the matter, including what happens if Ex # 1 is charged with rape at some point. Research the legalities around this situation, including who can press charges, why, and what that would mean for you. If you can speak to the police without pressing charges (I’m not sure if this is a thing, but I don’t think you are forced to press charges here in the US if you don’t want to? *Research this!*) then maybe you can get the jump on any antics Ex # 2 might pull and give yourself peace of mind.

      And above all, don’t doubt yourself. Cut Ex #2 out of your life. Function in a way that focuses on your safety and health no matter who might try to undermine it. I am so incredibly sorry that you are going through this, but you’ll get through it, and continue to kick ass!

      • Attorneys, yes. Some domestic violence agencies or victims advocates (depending on your state) will have knowledgeable attorneys who can discuss pressing charges.

        On the other hand, prosecuting attorneys in the US are prosecutors. We don’t have private criminal prosecutors you can hire. They are employed by the state and frequently have badges just like the police because they are law enforcement. If you speak to them you do not have confidentiality or control over what they do with the information you tell them, and it’s pretty much speaking to the police. Don’t do that.

    • Hi Panicked,

      Evidence that the accused has committed past sexual assaults is permissible as evidence should the state try to bring a criminal prosecution against him. See this rule from the Federal Rules of Evidence: http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_413

      However, because you don’t want to testify in a court, it’s likely that if the state tried to contact you, you could decline to be involved. Usually the state won’t want someone to take the stand who doesn’t want to be there–that would make you a hostile or uncooperative witness and lawyers like to avoid those when possible.

      I don’t think that the state would force you to testify if you didn’t want to, but I also don’t want to say that it could never happen. But I wouldn’t say it’s likely and I definitely wouldn’t say you should worry about it immediately right now. Also I’m assuming the rape against the other person before you was multiple years ago, and it’s likely the statute of limitations (time limit on bringing a case against someone, which varies from state to state) has run out for that crime. So I don’t think they will be able to successfully bring a case at all. Ex 1 will likely only get into court if he, god forbid, rapes someone else and that person chooses to press charges. Hopefully this won’t happen and you’ll be able to put this securely in your past.

  29. (I hope this is appropriate to leave here; it’s an issue I’m working out that bears similarity to the one described by the LW, but if it’s inappropriate to change the focus, I understand.)

    I have a used-to-be-friend who I’m deathly afraid will turn into something resembling ex #2, because he angrily disclosed /graphic/ details of a rape of one of his previous partners — I can’t imagine with their consent, seeing as I’m pretty sure they were an ex-partner — to me, before about-facing on a long friendship. That’s a pretty horrible thing to do to his ex, right? (It started because he discovered I was into BDSM with rape themes. Which wasn’t something he could push aside into ‘things my friend does I don’t want to know about’ — he found it heinous.) Him wanting nothing to do with me didn’t bother me as much as the way he spoke about the person who was raped, like they were a plot point.

    I’m still so confused about it — it was very much out of the blue — I’m actually not completely sure what he did was a shitty thing. I know it’s very evident of him not understanding boundaries or consent, though. It’s out of my hands now.

    But I can’t imagine what feels like to /be/ the person whose assault is used as a tool to make someone else feel better about themself. Sending warm/cool, if you’re in the southern hemisphere/possibly spatially compressive thoughts to you, LW.

  30. Something else I want to add. Expect this to flare up again in a few months/year.

    If I can compare bad behaviour like this to a toddler, or a puppy, except terrifying because it’s a grown man who has the capacity and resources to hurt you in ways that aren’t play bites.

    Attention seeking behaviour escalates. If you think of a dog scratching at a door to be let in. It might start with intermittent scratching. If they learn that this works the scratching will become persistent. With the occasional yip. That becomes incessant yipping that you worry is going to be reported as noise pollution. Each time you give attention, even negative attention like yelling, it just cements that “this is the level I need to escalate to in order to get a response”

    So he might have a change of heart and decide to not report to the authorities. He’ll assure you that it’s for your sake. But then in two months he’ll decide that he was right in the first place and needs to report. Or he’ll report the harassment, things will calm down, and suddenly he’ll contact you telling the police want more information on the rape (which would be bullshit, but I think he’s a bullshitter anyway).

    So I just want to say, stay steadfast in your zero communication with him. You do not want to hear anything he can conceive of to say. It doesn’t matter if it seems like he’s changed. Or if he’s found something new to hurt you with. If he manages to find a number, or create a new social media account, or find an email to contact you with do your best to block and ignore and hopefully the cycle will die down for good, eventually.

    (In the case of a stalker I had the last contact I had from him was probably 3-5 years after cutting off contact with him. And it was always intermittent. I’d think he had finally moved on, or got bored and then he was back in my inbox).

    • From experience, this is very true. If he contacts you again after a period of inactivity proclaiming to have changed, don’t even consider the possibility. There is no way he could have changed enough. What is happening is he got lonely, or thought he “figured out” why it was you cut off contact. (He will not have actually figured it out, if he is contacting you. And on the off chance he has, it’s not your obligation to validate that.)

  31. It’s not uncommon for Rape Crisis services to have people who specialize in dealing with police and may already have a relationship with local law enforcement. It might be worth asking your local Rape Crisis/domestic abuse organization if they could talk to the police preemptively, so they know not to contact you if Ex #2 does try to make a fuss.

  32. The police or local attorneys general don’t need your consent to pursue a criminal case against the ex. If he has done this to others, who have complained about him, charges can be filed, and you could be summoned to testify. You might want to call a lawyer or the local legal aid clinic for real advice.

  33. LW, you wrote above that the stalker ex might use a fake name if he goes to the police. It sounds to me that is the kind of thing that could count as wasting police time which in the UK at least (not sure about the US) could earn him either a fine or a short prison sentence. **doing evil laugh thinking about the ex being arrested**
    Seriously though, I hope it doesn’t come to this, and wish you the best of luck.

  34. The last I spoke to him, he said he would be focusing on his part of the story. The man who raped me also harassed my ex once he found out we were dating. The harassment, as far as I know, was mostly the rapist claiming I’d enjoyed everything he did… Making up things I’d said… And at one point he threatened my ex with physical violence. So as long as he sticks to just reporting that, then I’m fine and it was just an overreaction anyway. What worries me is much of the harassment occurred when my ex and I were both there, and the rapist was harassing both of us at once. So it’s possible he could use a fake name for me and just say “Fakename and I were being harassed by Asshole, he once threatened me with violence.” But it seems more likely he will say “Asshole said x, y, and z to me about Fakename and said a, b, and c to both of us about their history.” In which case that is revealing information about me I don’t want revealed. But it feels like I don’t have any right to fight this if it’s for the sake of his mental health.

    I did change my number and sent e-mails to our mutual friends asking them to please not pass any information about me to him (or about him to me) and they all said they would. You guys have been so kind to me and so supportive, thank you so much. If it weren’t for all that you’ve advised and said, I probably would have continued playing right into his hands.

    • “But it feels like I don’t have any right to fight this if it’s for the sake of his mental health.”

      You have as much RIGHT to fight him talking about you for his mental health, as you have to fight him saying anything for ANY reason–whether the reason is as “good” as Truth, Justice And Public Safety, or as lousy as “just because I am a meany-pants and I want to make you upset.”

      But though you have a RIGHT to try to get Stalky Ex to not spread sensitive information about you), you probably don’t have the ABILITY to actually stop him doing or saying anything he wants to other people.

      That might sound scary at first read, if you’re used to thinking that the only way to keep yourself safe is to predict what others will do, and prevent them doing anything that might harm you. Manipulation, like that employed by stalkers, twists that self-preservation instinct to the manipulator’s advantage, getting you you confused about what’s important/real/legitimate basis for decison (manipulation: the manipulator’s feelings and perspective first, nobody else’s; reality: your feelings and perspective, then others’) and who’s responsible for what (manipulation: you are responsible for everything, including things you couldn’t predict or control; reality: each person is responsible for their own choices, actions, and predictable outcomes).

      You can judo-flip the power of manipulation and dump it on it’s metaphorical butt by noticing when you’re tempted to focus on things outside your responsibility (such as your ex’s mental health) or control (such as what exactly he might say to someone else, or what exactly they might do about it), and reframing or focusing on stuff that is within your ability to influence–like keeping yourself emotionally and physically safe, preparing a general response for whenever past stuff comes up and you don’t want to talk about it, strengthening your support-system for dealing with crummy stuff, continuing to heal yourself, and perfecting your manipulation-repelling judo throw.

      Wishing that Stalky Ex will go the way of Rapist Ex, that is, completely out of your life–and wishing you strength and support to handle whatever he kicks up as he tries to keep you engaging with him.

    • I’m going to challenge you here, out of respect.

      What you felt and did was *not* overreaction. Not ever. You reacted to the information you had at the time, and your reaction was exactly appropriate.

      Because it was yours.

      Someone else may have reacted differently, and that would also have been exactly appropriate. That would have been their reaction.

      If I’m reading this right, you’ve had another communication from this guy, and now you’re thinking that you were overreacting after all, even though he is still threatening essentially the same thing, just in a somewhat different color.

      This thing in your head, that says you are overreacting — it is the abuser in your head. It’s the pernicious bastard that moves in, that one that abuses you IN YOUR BRAIN so your partner doesn’t have to. When you’re still in the relationship it’s trying to help you cope, because it’s the bit of you that’s doing its very best to remember all the rules so you can follow them and be safe. But of course you can’t follow all the rules, and you can’t be safe. But when you get away from the abusive person, you still have the abuser IN YOUR BRAIN.

      That fucker in your head, it’s worse than the usual jerkbrain. It’s more like the screaming-asshole-brain. That’s what’s telling you that you’re overreacting. It’s lying. It wants you weak, unconfidant, uncertain, and vulnerable. You can learn to tell what parts of you are you and what parts are this screaming asshole brain, usually in therapy, sometimes with reality checks to trusted others — but that work happens later, after you are safe.

      If that metaphor doesn’t work for you, that’s okay too. Lots of people don’t like the jerkbrain metaphor and they are perfectly wonderful people for it.

      The important bit, really, is that your reaction is what it is, and that’s okay. You’re doing what you can with the information you’ve got.

      Also, at the end of this novella — your suffering deserves compassion, not contempt.

  35. I did reply once, Flora, but it didn’t show up – I’m not sure if it got caught in the spam trap or if my computer just ate it.

    Anyway, my rapist also harassed my ex once he found out we were dating. It’s possible that’s all he’s planning on reporting. However, the large majority of that harassment was aimed at both my ex and I and centered on how much I’d allegedly enjoyed everything he did to me. So. I’m not sure how he could use a fake name for me and still honestly report everything? But at least if that’s all he reports, then this was all me just overreacting and blowing it out of proportion.

    General update: I did change my number. Only close friends and my work have it. And I e-mailed all mutual friends asking them to please not pass on anything to him about me, my whereabouts, or any contact information.

    • “I’m not sure how he could use a fake name for me and still honestly report everything?”

      You are right that giving the police a fake name for you is dishonest, and it says a lot about Ex2 that his instinct is to lie. Ex2 doesn’t have to report “everything” — he can say only what pertains to his experience. If he leaves something out that the police think is relevant, he can just explain why he is choosing not to reveal that.

      If the police insist on details of what was said about whom and who else was present, Ex2 could refer to you simply as his girlfriend at the time, now ex. If the police specifically ask for your name, he could tell them that he would prefer not to give them your name as he wants to be sure there will be no follow-up with you about that incident or any other because that is your preference. A survivor not wanting report or follow-up will “ring true” for any cop who has domestic violence training.

      In other words, if Ex2 were a decent human, *he* would be acting as the buffer for you, instead of making it your problem to worry about what he’ll say and what the implications will be for you down the line. Ex2 is acting like police are going to use hardcore interrogation tactics on him to force him to reveal things about you. He doesn’t have to report anything he doesn’t want to report.

    • In the best possible scenario where your ex wasn’t trying to manipulate you or imply that he was going to report your rape and only ever meant to let you know that he was going to report the harassment, *your reaction was still valid and reasonable*.

      Firstly, if we take the best possible view of your ex, where he does have PTSD from the harassment you both endured, then if he legitimately gets to have a reaction to the harassment, *so do you*. If your brain’s reaction to contact from him about harassment and rape is fear and panic and flight, that is completely real and totally understandable. After all, if you’ve experienced someone harassing you and assaulting you, it is *sensible* for your brain to watch out for that possibility again. So don’t beat yourself up for overreacting or blowing things out of proportion or panicking. You’re entitled to a reaction to him contacting you, and if that reaction is still partly a reaction to the fear and pain you experienced when Ex1 was assaulting and abusing you, that’s a real thing and doesn’t make you weak or stupid or unreliable or anything like that.

      Secondly, even if your Ex2 is genuinely well-meaning, genuinely traumatised because of the harassment, and it was a misunderstanding about what he was intending to do, he is still in the wrong for contacting you. A good therapist should probably have warned him that if he was traumatised by it then that there was every chance that you (who were also attacked by Ex1 as well as threatened) were quite likely to be more traumatised by it, and might well be triggered by it. Even if he’s a good guy, he got that one wrong and your reaction is totally legitimate and real.

      Thirdly, despite what I’ve just said, it takes a stretch to believe that he was genuinely well-meaning. He could have just said, “Hey, I’m going to contact the police about the harassment I received from Ex1, just because it’s still bothering me a lot. I just wanted to let you know that I am taking steps to ensure this will not impact on you. I won’t give your name and I will focus on what happened to me. I have checked out how this works and I know I can report my experience of harassment without passing on any information about you. I have support from a therapist. I don’t need you to contact me about this, but if you do, my number is XXXXX XXXXXXX.” I still don’t think it would have been a good or necessary thing to do, but it would at least have shown he was trying to minimise the impact on you and reassure you that he understood how potentially traumatising this was for you.

      If he chose to make it “I have PTSD from dating you” and “I am reporting to the authorities what I know about you” – he has shown himself to be a completely unsafe person for you, and your reaction was *totally, utterly, completely* reasonable and justified. He’d demonstrated his complete lack of understanding about your experience and its effects on you. NO BLOODY WONDER you were terrified. You were right to be!

      If he’s implying that you misunderstood him, he’s gaslighting. Your reaction was totally justified. The only thing he should be doing now is making sure this has no further impact on your and your life and disappearing completely. Anything else is self-centred and you do not have to tolerate it.

      masses of luck. x

    • You are not required to talk to the police under any circumstances, ever. That rule is there primarily to protect the rights of people who are suspects in crimes, but it also applies to people who are witnesses or victims of crimes. You do not have to participate in any police investigation, and if the police contact you, you can say, “I do not wish to speak with you about this or any other matter. Please do not contact me again.”

      In the (very, very unlikely) event that you are issued a court subpoena to appear in a criminal or civil legal matter, you are required to comply with that court order. But if that ever happens you should call the victims’ rights organization, to see if they can help you get an attorney to protect your interests.

      I suspect that Ex2 is bluffing, that he has no real intention of contacting the police, and that he’s just using this as yet another opening to get under your skin. I suspect that you’re going to see a burst of him trying to get in touch with you, but that if you’re resolute in refusing to respond, nothing will ever come of it. I also suspect that even if he were to go to the police, telling them, “some dude bothered me a long time ago, and I heard that he might have assaulted someone who has no interest in pressing charges” is not going to result in a criminal case. The police have enough to do without harassing victims who don’t want to press charges.

      I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. I absolutely recommend the book “The Gift of Fear,” by Gavin DeBecker (recommended above) to gain a better understanding of how Ex2 is trying to manipulate and scare you for his own gratification, and to help you figure out how to handle it. But you’re doing a great job of standing up to him by changing your contact information. I wish you the best.

  36. Sounds like you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome Team You, LW. Lots of luck with everything. We’re all rooting for you! GO LW! WOOO!

    Jedi hugs and cuddly cute thing of your choice. I’m a cat person but I don’t assume everyone is ^_^

  37. Self-care suggestion: It may help you to create a Zone of Safe Contact Only.

    This Zone of Safe Contact Only can be both physical and electronic. You can take a room in your house / apartment / dorm / boat and fill it with good things. Move some pillows in there, and some spare blankets. If there’s a piece of art you hate hanging on the wall, take it down. If there’s a device in there that accesses the internet, move it to another space. Maybe ask a friend to help you decorate this space: put up nice pictures, stick glow in the dark stars on the ceiling, buy cheap candles at the supermarket. If you have a pet, make a space for your pet in the room. This room is now a place that you can retreat to.

    This kind of thing helps me a lot when I have panic attacks: it’s good to have a nest, a bunch of soft things in a small space where I know nothing can get me. Maybe this is a space that only you ever go into. Maybe you invite friends in. The idea is to make a place that you have control over, where you will not have to worry about being stalked or harassed, maybe because devices that enable stalking (phones, computers) don’t go in there, or maybe just because it’s a nice place to sit where you feel protected and in control over what happens to you.

    LW, I’m so sorry this is happening, and I hope things get better. I second everyone who says that cutting off contact is the right move.

  38. Ugh. If Ex # 2 has a therapist and said therapist suggested that Ex #2 do something to get closure on his feelings, I would bet my last nickel that Ex #2 is misconstruing the therapist’s suggestions.

  39. Something that disturbs me here is the ongoing assumption that a therapist did not advise this – it assumes that no therapist is as emotionally unbalanced, or negligent EVER.

    So not true. Take a gander at therapyabuse.org for some examples of sexual misconduct and subsequent cover up from within the treatment system.

  40. No can be harassed or stalked by any form of text unless there is a credible threat of violence or a publication of legally protected data. The inclusion of text into what used to be the IRL crime of stalking is erroneous and harmful to the real victims of real stalking. Disagreement with anyone online at all in any form now is “stalking” under this debased use of the term.

    • Allyson:

      Stalking & harassment are not limited by media. I’m not sure what we gain by taking a stand for “The good old days, where your stalker showed up at your work instead of texting.”
      Abusers & stalkers are very good at using social media to remind their victims “I’m paying attention to you/I can get to you/you’re on my mind” without needing to make overt threats every time. No one’s experience is being minimized by making that point.

      The LW’s ex is undertaking action that might bring her abusive ex back into her life….how is that unthreatening?

  41. Allyson does have a point. Other people have faced (and still are facing) much more serious forms of stalking.

    Once I changed my number & blocked him, I was fine. I haven’t seen or heard from him. Unfortunately, he is still spreading false information to mutual friends, but I’m not currently in any physical danger. While I’m glad I took the steps I did, I do think I took his texts much more seriously than I needed to.

    If Allyson is a victim of stalking, or anyone else here is, I apologize for minimizing your experiences with this one.

    • I am glad that worked in getting him to go away! I do not think you overreacted, though. Really dangerous people start small and escalate their behavior, or stay just on this side of plausibly deniable * because they want victims second-guessing whether it’s “worth” taking action.*

  42. I agree with the other posters – large red flags in Ex#2′s behaviour.

    First, what he is doing is the opposite of “closure”, as others have already pointed out. In fact, it is a technique called “hoovering”, much used by abusers to hook you back into a relationship when you have managed to escape. (See here for more details: http://lightshouse.org/lights-blog/when-toxic-people-start-hoovering#axzz2pL6v3Ylk ) I suspect there is nothing in what he said about his “therapist” – it would be highly unethical for a therapist to interfere in a third party’s life in this way.

    Second, the business about him having PTSD because of hearing about your abuse – yep, as the others have said up-thread, he is trying to make out that he is the victim here instead of being a grown-up and giving you support. I have been in this situation myself, when guys have been “freaked out” about my past abuse. I somehow suspect that this is less about “oh poor you, what an awful experience” and more about “oh poor me, I might not enjoy sexytimes because you have a problem”.

    As the good Captain says, none of this is your fault. You do not need this creep in your life any more. Focus on your safety and security (as in the brilliant comment above). You do not owe him any more of your time or thoughts.

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