04/27/2006DEAR ABBY: I want to respond to the letter from "Being Watched in Birmingham," whose ex-husband is stalking her. She wrote she was afraid that calling the police would just make it worse. I had the same problem.
My ex was a retired policeman and long-haul truck driver. I was afraid the police from our town would ignore me because of the "code of blue," and my kids and I would be on our own. But the police helped us out and protected us.
I had to get a restraining order to keep him from the house. He had told one of my daughters that he was going to drive through our house with his tractor-trailer and hurt me. When my daughter told the judge what he had said, it helped me to get my restraining order. It was hard; we were upset and more terrified than anyone will ever know. But our lives are now peaceful.
"Being Watched" needs to stand up for herself and her child. She CAN get help. She also needs to get herself into counseling. (I went to domestic abuse counseling.) She must reach out now, before it's too late.
I made sure all four of us got counseling. She doesn't have to miss out on life because he could be watching. Please, Abby, tell her to look forward and not back -- if not for herself, then for her daughter. That girl should not have to live out her mother's fears. They could affect the rest of her life. -- HAPPY AT LAST IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR HAPPY AT LAST: Thank you for sharing your personal experience and how you dealt with your ex-husband's stalking and intimidation. I also heard from a former member of law enforcement. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have some advice for "Being Watched." I investigated stalking cases when I was a detective for the local police department. I also studied the behaviors of these offenders. "Being Watched" should not answer his calls no matter how many times he calls or threatens. If she does, she's giving him what he wants: a response. Even a negative response is what these people need and crave.
She should screen her calls and use an answering machine. She should also obtain an injunction prohibiting harassment from the court. (They are called different names by other jurisdictions.) It can be served on him by an officer of the court.
She should keep detailed documentation of what he is doing -- calls, following her, damage. Dates and times are very important to building a criminal case. Also, keep any cards, letters, notes, gifts, etc., that he leaves, and turn them in to the police. They will need them as evidence.
The daughter should be instructed to be aware of her surroundings and report any unusual activities to her mother or the police if it's an emergency. The school should be notified about what is happening, especially if a court order is obtained to keep him away from her.
By no means should the writer make herself a prisoner in her own home. If she does, he's succeeding in getting what he wants -- control over her. She should be aware of her surroundings, install good locks on her house, garage her vehicle if possible, and take security precautions at home or at work. Her ex is committing crimes and will stop only if she takes the first step to end his controlling, manipulative behavior. It may be scary for her, but a good support system of family, friends, police and a psychotherapist can help her through this terrifying time. The man needs to be stopped -- now! -- FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE IN ARIZONA
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)