DEAR ABBY: I recently got a phone call from a woman I hadn't heard from in 30 years. "Vivian" and I once had a short fling. We had a long talk, catching up, and she said she had gotten my number from my sister, who lives out of state.
I was surprised not only to hear from Vivian, but also that she lives only 25 miles away. She mentioned that when she moved south 19 years ago, she worked in a law enforcement office. When I spoke with my sister, she said that when Vivian contacted her, Vivian told her she had always loved me and was going to marry me.
All of a sudden, I began getting letters from her -- but I never gave her my address. In every letter she would pour her heart out to me, but never included her return address. She would call me, sometimes three times a day. I didn't answer because she was coming on too strong. Every message Vivian left was full of emotion, sometimes sobbing, telling me how much she loves me and wants to be with me.
A few nights ago, she showed up at my door, demanding to know why I was "avoiding her." I didn't invite her in. We sat on my front porch, and I had a long talk with her. I explained that a lot has changed in both our lives; I had come out as gay and was just out of a 10-year relationship. I said I was feeling depressed and confused, and didn't want to get into a relationship with anyone -- male or female -- at this time. My being gay didn't faze her. She seemed to think she could change me instantly.
As our conversation progressed, she admitted that she had gone back to the law enforcement office and some of the old employees had done a search on me. They told her where I was living and gave her directions on how to get to my home, information on how many vehicles I own and the license numbers, and who knows what else.
I feel violated. I feel Vivian has crossed a very fine line. I feel I'm being stalked, and it's giving me nightmares. Was what she did legal, and how should I handle this? -- VIOLATED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR VIOLATED: It should be apparent by now that your old "fling" has mental problems. Her behavior could, indeed, be considered stalking. If you still have the letters and recordings of her messages, give them to your legal counsel with the explanation that she located you through information given to her by a law enforcement agency where she used to work. The law enforcement agency that got you into this mess should get you out of it. You should document every incident of harassment, and while you're at it, consult your physician about the nightmares and stress you've been subjected to. Your attorney should have all of this information at his or her disposal.