How do you deal with an ex-partner who is unable to accept that the relationship is over?
”It’s that easy’’ he said in a threatening voice. ‘’To be here; Waiting for you.’’
‘’Mum’’ I shouted ’’call the police.’’
I had returned home from work that afternoon, picking my mum up along the way for safety, fearing that my estranged husband was going to cause of trouble. But I had never imagined that he would do this.
Simon had bombarded me with threatening, angry calls and texts for most of the day and eventually I had switched my phone off and asked colleagues to tell him I was unavailable when he called my desk phone. I knew that this would make him angrier but I didn’t know what else to do.
Consequently I had been expecting him to be waiting for me somewhere, maybe near the river where I walked the dogs or outside the children’s nursery.
But inside the house; that had taken me completely by surprise and it scared me. I knew that I could no longer handle his behaviour alone. I needed to involve the police. I had tried speaking with his family but judging by his actions, they too were powerless to help him.
Mum and I had entered my home, still jointly owned by Simon and I, in total oblivion to the fact that he was there. His car hadn’t been outside; the door had still been locked and despite the dimming daylight there had been no lights on. Although Simon and I still owned the house together, the children and I were living there alone after he had eventually agreed to move out a few months previous.
I still don’t know why, but as I walked down the hallway I had an overwhelming urge to check inside the lounge. Nothing looked outwardly different but I felt uneasy.
Everything was fine; I was just being silly. But then, as my eyes finished running the full length of the sofa, I saw him; my husband, sat very calmly, directly behind the now fully opened door.
And that’s when he said those words that chilled me. The words that brought me to my senses and made me realise that I had to make this stop.
Ever since we had separated 5 months previous, Simon had struggled to accept it.
At first, he had just been a nuisance; phoning and texting continuously, regardless of the time of the day or night. I had tried to remain patient, hopeful that he would eventually wear himself out and accept that the relationship was over.
I knew that Simon did not want the marriage to end but I had stopped loving him and I couldn’t continue pretending any longer. For me, our separation was a relief, the start of a new beginning. For Simon it was a shock and the end of everything.
Very soon his behaviours escalated.
One morning I rushed out of the children’s nursery, jumped in my car and before I could start the engine Simon had got into the passenger seat.
‘’I really can’t talk now, I need to get to work” I said pleadingly.
Nothing I said could persuade Simon to return to his own car. Until, eventually, twenty minutes later, he got out.
Looking back I should have sounded the horn. The nursery car park was remote but staff inside would have heard me. But if I’m honest I didn’t really want to attract attention. As much as I wanted Simon out of my car I didn’t want everyone else knowing what was going on and I dreaded a scene.
Incidents like that continued. I started to constantly check behind me and I dreaded the sound of my phone. I tried doing things his way and I tried not. I tried being nice and I tried being blunt. Nothing seemed to work. If I did what he wanted, he expected more; if I didn’t do what he wanted he would make threats and pester until he got his own way.
I just wanted him to stop; to accept that the marriage was over and I blamed myself for not making him understand. His behaviour embarrassed me.
When you are stalked by someone that you know intimately, you feel responsible. You feel that you are to blame and you forget that they are accountable for themselves
‘’Just tell him to stop calling’’ friends would advise. ‘’Don’t give in to him’’
It wasn’t that easy though. Simon would use the children as bait. On evenings when he was picking them up from nursery he would turn up at my home.
‘’Lucy needs the toilet’’ he would shout through the letterbox ‘’She’s bursting.’’
At first I would let them in, unable to bear the thought of my children’s discomfort but of course once inside, Simon would refuse to leave. I would be stuck, trying to pretend that everything was okay for the children whilst desperately trying to persuade Simon to leave.
And after he had eventually left, the phone would start to ring. If I ignored the calls, he would return, banging at the door and shouting through the letterbox; a torrent of excuses. I would lock the doors from the inside to stop him gaining access but in reality, the property also belonged to him and I had little ground to stand on.
Looking back now I am absolutely amazed that I never consider myself a victim of stalking. I just alleged it to be a ‘difficult’ separation.
I wasn’t sure where love ended and stalking began; or how much time was fair of me to give him, or how many excuses I should offer for his actions?
Until that day.
And then something snapped and I knew that this was never going to stop unless I made it.
Simon wasn’t acting out of love. This was all about him. He felt entitled to my affection and entitled to be part of my life, regardless as to whether I wanted him to be or not.
The criminal justice system has worked hard over the last few years to help victims of harassment and stalking. New legislation has been introduced and Police Officers have been re-trained.
In 2008 things weren’t as straightforward. The first officers that attended the house said there wasn’t anything they could do; Simon was allowed inside his own property.
However, the following day when Simon again started to constantly phone me at work I re-contacted the police and this time they took action.
Furthermore, whilst they were conducting their investigation, things escalated.
Simon’s family had persuaded him to see a mental health professional. The doctor had become so concerned by Simon’s standpoint that he decided to break confidentiality in the interest of safety, and he too contacted the police.
Simon was arrested the following day and my situation was placed in the hands of the criminal system. I was protected by bail conditions, a home link alarm and, following a court case, a restraining order.
By the time the restraining order had expired the joint property had been sold and the children’s contact with Simon had been made subject to a court order.
I have been lucky.
The criminal justice system worked for me. Home Office statistics deem that 2 people are killed every week by a partner or ex-partner. My abuse was stopped before I was ever physically hurt or worse.
Names have been changed to protect the identities of the people involved.
Alli-Jayne is a divorced mother of 2, freelance writer and blogger who loves juggling raising children, keeping a home and most importantly, having fun.
She researches and writes news stories for local newspapers and is a regular contributor to the lifestyle sections of the national newspapers and magazines, both in print and online.