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Dear Dr. Romance: How Can I Stop a Stalker?

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Dear Dr. Romance:

Are you familiar with men who won't leave women alone? I'm just trying to understand why someone would STALK me for well over a decade and, during that time, systematically destroy my life because I refused to be in an abusive relationship with him. He didn't seem to understand that emotional violence might be a bit of a deterrent to an emotionally healthy woman. But he seems like he's borderline personality anyway and couple that with "ex military" and you get straight psycho. Yet, he (along with a number of his closest psychotic friends) has been trying to defame my character and even has gone after my child! It's like I said "No" and he said, "You're gonna be under my control whether you want to or not or you'll DIE." You know the old, "If I can't have you, nobody will." I was trying to avoid this by saying "No" at the outset! What can I do?

Dear Reader:

Yes, I've written about stalking and domestic violence. "How to Stay Out of a Violent Relationship" and "Friends in Need: Interventions for Domestic Violence" may have the information you need to know. Stalkers simply want to control you. He has no feelings for you except rage that you aren't under his control. You were right to say no, but you might have to be a lot meaner than that. Just saying no obviously didn't work —it's time to gather evidence, call the police, and have him arrested.

Here are some suggestions that might help:

Dr. Romance on WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN ARE BATTERED

1. Realize it's not going to get better. If your partner flies into rage, verbally or sexually abuses or batters you or your children, no matter what he or she may say, it isn't your fault, and you have no control over his or her behavior. Even the abuser has very little control. It is not just a one-time incident, it is an indication of a severely disturbed character, and it will not go away without years of intense therapy.

2. Protect yourself and your children. The best way to do this is to tell the truth to family, friends, your minister, your doctor, your therapist, your co-workers, one of the hotlines listed below, the police and anyone else who will listen. There is no need for you to be ashamed, but there is an urgent need for you to get help. If it seems that noone is listening, consider that you might not be telling the whole truth — battered spouses have a tendency to downplay and make excuses for the abuse. The best protection for you and your children is for your abuser's behavior to become public knowledge. The vast majority of abusers are cowards, who only prey on dependent, defenseless people. They like to believe they are in control, and they aren't as likely to lose control before witnesses.

3. Once you have been physically abused, do not be alone with the abuser again. This is another reason to tell everyone you know. You either need a place to go, or someone (perhaps several people) to stay with you until you are safe. You may also need financial help. There are shelters you can go to which will keep you safe. Call a Domestic Violence hotline to find a shelter.

4. If you are hit, call the police (911). They respond much better now than they used to, and the law is now on your side. When they come, press charges. Do not make excuses to yourself or anyone else. If your abuser gets away with it even once, he or she will get more abusive. Do not listen to pleas for sympathy, understanding or forgiveness. You can forgive the abuser after he or she has gotten help, and only after you and your children are safe.

5. If injured, get medical help. Tell the doctors and nurses the truth about how it happened.

6. File a restraining order, or a Protection from Violence order. Volunteers at the police department will help you fill it out. With a restraining order, you can call the police as soon as the abuser gets close to you or your home. Without one, the police need evidence of the abuse to arrest anyone.

7. Attend Al-Anon meetings. You will learn a lot of good information that will help you avoid being someone else's victim. For information: http://www.al-anon.org/

It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction has good information about taking good care of yourself.

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