For the most part we have dealt with the sort of disposition and character that promotes and encourages a loving relationship in our lives. However, due to the world in which we live, there are times when the aftermath of what was once hoped to be our joy becomes our greatest anxiety. It is in these instances a different sort of strength is required of our character. I speak of the pitiful situation in which a former spouse or lover refuses to accept the end of the relationship and goes beyond normal measures of anger in retaliation.
During a relationship, as two become closer and closer, there is a natural rise in hopes and intimacy. When a relationship ends, for whatever reasons, it is just as natural that the unrealized hopes and discontinued intimacy cause us disappointment and hurt. However it is best that each person can resolve their own feelings and find ‘closure’ by spending time both alone and with close friends. However not everyone is able to do this. Unfortunately we find ourselves seeing the worst of some people only after a relationship has been terminated.
I’ll set forth two scenarios however they are by no means exclusive to one particular gender. A man or woman could behave in either of these extreme manners. Then we will look at how to address each situation best.
Scenario one I define as ‘Emotional Torment’. In such a case we have, for example’s sake, a woman who cannot accept the fact that the relationship is over. I do not by this mean a woman who simply feels hurt or pain, for it has been mentioned that some degree of this is natural to us as humans. It is well enough to go separate ways and count the painful experience as a learning one. However in our scenario here we have a person who is not content to ‘go their own way’. In this situation the woman feels she must project her extreme amounts of internal anger and bitterness upon the one she feels responsible.. her former mate.
In these cases the harassment often begins with embittered phone calls which have no other point to them other than an attempt to express hatefulness and self-absolution. Typically with the theme, “I hate you, my faults are not the issue, I hope you have a miserable life.” In some cases a few instances of venting is all one needs to endure and the person will go their way feeling they have ‘had their say’. However if this person does not feel they have caused enough misery to their former spouse it is not uncommon that they may send vile letters in the mail or make slanderous phone calls to the targeted victim’s family and friends.. hoping by chance to seduce them into joining her anger.
The main theme behind such actions is not that of physical injury, but injury to one’s reputation and feelings. There is no regard for what rationally makes sense and this sort of person will even distort events known to be true in order to validate their passionate hatred.
When dealing with this sort of person perhaps one of the foremost things to keep in mind is that you are not dealing with a rational person. If you meet the average person on the street and perhaps bump into them you may simply say, “Excuse me.” and that is about the end of the issue. With an irrational person there is no regard for explanations that it was an accident.. in their minds you rushed up and attacked them and nothing will convince them otherwise. Similarly when a person’s tunneled vision is to disregard any responsibility of their own and focus only on how any of your behaviors, even in the slightest, prove you to be a monster and them to be angelic then you know you are no longer dealing with a person able to see both sides of the issue.
This being the case it becomes only more and more unproductive to try and reason through any phone or mail correspondence. The accusations become greater and more unreasonable. The best tact is to simply and repeatedly say, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I can only apologize for what is genuinely my fault. We are no longer together and I do not wish to hear from you any longer.” This is where it becomes necessary to discontinue any and all communication with such a person. This means refusing phone calls, returning postal mail unopened ‘to sender’ and putting a server block on their incoming e-mail. Too often it is thought such a person can be reasoned with and it only escalates the situation to no resolve. The biggest mistake that could be made at this point would be to keep the person on the phone or reply to correspondence. It may seem harsh but, if there is to be a minimizing of damage for things said, unproductive arguing has to be stopped dead in it’s tracks.
Scenario Two I define as ‘Physical Threat’. Here we have let’s say, a man, who also cannot accept the fact that the relationship is over. Perhaps he thinks he needs to prove his ‘machismo’ or manhood by persistently insisting she is still his ‘woman’ no matter what she says. Perhaps he is overly jealous at the thought of her with another man who he knows will treat her better than he ever did. Or perhaps he simply is angry at the fact that his selfish needs are no longer being met and he is inconvenienced. For whatever reasons some men go beyond the normal amount of hurt and pain, resorting to intimidation and unreasonable demands in the process.
It is at this point that the former mate becomes this man’s targeted victim. This sort of man will lose all respect for the woman by grossly overstepping common bounds of privacy. This may include stalking her wherever she goes, stealing her phone bill to monitor her calls, harassing her at work, calling at all hours of the night, planting himself outside her door or any number of similar actions aimed at keeping himself in her life even if as a nuisance.
Despite repeated pleas that he discontinue such behavior, some men will go even further. This may include vandalism to her property, intruding into her home and even threats of kidnapping, violence or murder.
In such cases one must be especially firm and resolved. Unlike our first scenario, dealing with this sort of situation cannot be properly handled by passive non-interaction. Threats to property or person are not to be taken lightly. I have seen and heard of women who feel they must pity an angry former lover and postpone involving the police authorities. The more room a man is given to vent his anger the further he will take it. Therefore it is imperative to make use of the authorities right from the beginning of such threats to avoid any escalation.
When dealing with such a person, action is needed. There must be no hesitancy about reporting each incident of stalking, harassment and threat to the local authorities who can keep the date and times of all such incidents on record as supporting evidence should something drastic occur at a later time. I also strongly advise the use of a ‘Restraining Order’. When used the R.O. can be an effective method of punishing such unwanted behavior.
I strongly disagree with those who say, “Oh, those things are useless.. it can’t protect you.” The purpose of a restraining order is to make it possible for the police to arrest an individual for being anywhere near you either in person or by phone. This can include both fines and jail-time. The R.O. is not a ‘magic shield of invincibility’, no such thing exists. The purpose of the R.O. is to make it easier to prosecute such unwanted behavior upon those who are unwilling to ‘go their own way’ by simple request. To not make use of one when one’s property, life or emotional health is being tormented is to limit the rights and protection available to you by law.
Once a restraining order has been served it is useless if it is not enforced. When the tormenting man or woman comes to bash in your windshield or call repeatedly through the night, follow you from home or approach you in a public place.. the worst thing that could be done is to let that person think you are unwilling to call the police. When the order has been violated you cannot hesitate to make use of it. It must be remembered that you would not have to prosecute if they had the good sense to respect your rights as an individual. If they find themselves incarcerated, fined or picking up trash along the freeway as community service.. they have only themselves to blame for not leaving you alone.
I suppose the only reason an article such as this must be written is because of our tendency to not want harm upon someone we once had love or affection for. I believe in enduring love and still care for each woman I’ve had in my life. I hope their lives go well with them in the future much as I’m sure many of you wish for those special relationships that just didn’t work out. However, when a person returns such care with an unyielding attack upon your happiness and well being I also believe it is perfectly your right and responsibility to let them know you will make full use of the laws designed to protect yourself.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.