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.
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.
- 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.