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Stalker ex

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 20 May 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

Last year I met a man through a dating site and went out with him just the once. Before our date I had spoken with him a few times, and felt comfortable enough to progress to the next stage of meeting him. However, during the date it became evident we were not suited, and I cut the evening short. I made it clear I wouldn't want to take it any further, and as far as I was concerned left on friendly terms.

I then went on to meet another man whom I've been with for 8 months and couldn't be happier. The problem is the previous date is incessantly contacting me, demanding I give him another chance, even though I have texted him that I have moved on, and asked him to leave me alone.

Despite this, he continues to phones me at least twice a day. I never respond, but he is now leaving messages of a threatening nature saying if I don't meet him he will tell my new boyfriend I slept with him on the first and only date, which is obviously totally untrue. He emails me the same sort of messages too.

I am wanting to change my contact details but this would create much inconvenience. Thankfully he doesn't know where I work or live, but the messages are becoming more frequent and intense with him declaring his undying love for me.

Perhaps I am overreacting, but I am now becoming scared. I do know where he lives, and have thought about going to see him to confront him, but not sure it will make a difference.

What do you suggest?

Patricia Marie says...

This man is stalking you, and it is imperative that you protect yourself and put an end to his disturbing behaviour. Do not meet with him under any circumstances as this could exacerbate the situation. You are doing the right thing by not responding to his messages. Retain every one he has sent you, and make a note of every phone call. Go to the police with this evidence and tell them you are extremely concerned for your safety. You also need to consult a solicitor for legal advice on the possibility of obtaining a restraining order from the Court, which would prevent this man contacting you. Please do not downplay your fear, as his actions are a great cause for concern, and you are most certainly not overreacting.

I strongly advise you to change your telephone numbers and email address immediately. Be aware also that online social networks like Facebook are an open resource for tracking someone, so be sure to update your privacy settings, or better still, for the time being, remove your profile. These changes will give you peace of mind and deter all future contact, and any resultant inconvenience is surely acceptable, considering the alternative.

His declaration of love is not love, it's harassment, which has to be stopped. Stalking is dangerous and a serious crime. It can cause severe psychological distress to its victim, with side effects such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and post traumatic stress, and in some cases even result in physical harm, which is why I urge you to act right now.

For further help and advice call: The National Stalking Helpline. 0808 802 0300

I feel that my mother can no longer live by herself

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 12 May 2016
I've been worrying about this for a while but feel that the time has finally come to address it. My mother is 87 and has lived on her own for the past 16 years since her husband (my father) died. She has always been very independent but is now struggling to cope with day to day tasks. I feel that deep down she knows this but refuses to acknowledge it. I don't like her being alone in case something happens.

I don't know what to do. How do people deal with this? I don't want to force my mother into something she doesn't want but I can't see how she can live safely and comfortably on her own.

Please help.

Patricia Marie says...

Many older people see themselves as proud survivors, who, despite declining health, can deal with whatever life throws at them. The wartime generation value their independence, often digging their heels in if they feel bullied in any way.

Uncertainty and fear of change can cause them much distress, as they desperately try to stay in control of themselves and their environment. However, there comes a time when decisions need to be made on the best options of ensuring them independence but keeping them safe and happy too.

Your mother is extremely blessed to have such a caring daughter, but put yourself in her shoes and imagine your children writing a similar letter about you. Before pushing her to accept that she is becoming more vulnerable, and that she needs help to sort out her living arrangements, try to understand her feelings. Have a heart to heart with her, listen with empathy, and reassure her by involving her with any subsequent decisions. You could perhaps also enlist a family friend, her GP, the local vicar, or a social worker to talk to her and reinforce your concerns.

Social Services have a duty to provide care, and if you contact them they could put a suitable care package together. Your mother's house could be adapted to suit her needs, and it may be that with a little assistance, and a personal alarm, she will be able to continue to live at home. A carer could become a regular companion as well as a huge form of support to her. Day centres are also available for senior citizens, providing an abundance of amenities and activities that she may enjoy, alongside making some new friends with similar needs to hers. Alternatively, offer to visit some local sheltered living centres and care homes with her. She may be impressed to see how different they can be to the stereotypical 'Old People's Home' of days gone by.

If your mother could be more accepting of the situation, she may even get to enjoy her change of life, as later years can be highly pleasurable and fulfilling, with the additional benefit of hopefully enjoying unfettered time with you.

Age UK are an organisation offering invaluable support and advice for the elderly and family members: 0800 169 2081
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Dark memories coming back to me

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 29 April 2016
I have read the recent reader's problem about the Helen and Rob storyline in the Archers. I myself was a victim of domestic abuse ten years ago, yet why is it when following their continuing story, that I feel so tearful and almost a sense of panic overcomes me. As the story progresses it's bringing back those dark memories. I too was in prison, for finally standing up for myself and attacking my husband, and like Helen was separated from my child. I keep thinking that if only I had recognised the signs, and acted sooner by leaving him, I would have never experienced such an ordeal. I have no-one to speak to about my past, as I feel nobody would understand. Do you think counselling would possibly help me, even though my trauma was such a long time ago? I appreciate it would be much simpler to turn the radio off, but for whatever reason I feel addicted to the storyline and am wanting a happy ending.

Patricia Marie says...

Thank you for entrusting me with your heartrending story. I am so sorry for what you have had to endure. Being a victim of domestic violence is devastating in itself, yet to be sentenced to prison and to have been apart from your child under such shocking circumstances is utterly unthinkable. It is no wonder you are feeling as you do whilst listening to The Archer's current riveting storyline, but you are not alone, as this powerful drama continues to touch so many people in the real world. Yes, you could turn the radio off to stop it affecting you, but somehow, if the show's writers had not portrayed domestic violence as being so horrific, it would undermine many of the actual victims suffering abuse.

Please don't blame yourself for not leaving your husband sooner. There are a myriad reasons it can be untenable to leave an abusive partner – fear of retaliation, having young children and nowhere to go, worrying others will disbelieve you, and often victims convince themselves that their abuser's behaviour will improve. The scars you can't see are the hardest to heal. It is never too late to seek professional help. Many years after victims have escaped their abuser, it's not uncommon for them to develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), such as flashbacks, nightmares, tearfulness and panic attacks. As you are displaying these signs, I feel that therapy would be of great benefit, to explore any emotions that may have been repressed, and allow you to move forward and leave the past very much behind. Women's Aid can provide both individual and group counselling, where you would be able to meet other sufferers of domestic violence, and feel very much understood. You could also draw comfort from the group, as members who start off as strangers, can, after sharing each other's experiences, become a valuable and trusted source of support.

I would like to offer you my best wishes for a happy ever after, and one that we are all wanting for Helen too.

Women's Aid 24 hour helpline on 0800 2000 247

My daughter wants me to pay for her breast enlargement

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 22 April 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My 18 year old daughter has begged me to pay for her to have her breasts enlarged for her birthday. She says her tiny chest makes her so self-conscious, and she's constantly miserable. She won't wear anything revealing and can't bear to go out with her friends because she thinks she's ugly.

I am absolutely against this kind of surgery, but am I just being selfish. This situation is causing me great misery. Would appreciate some advice.

Patricia Marie says...

Dealing with the body image issues of a teenager can be a complex situation. Adolescence is a time of rapid physical change, and girls in particular can be vulnerable to outside pressures about their appearance, from both friends and the media, which can contribute to self-dissatisfaction. 

You are approaching this dilemma from a mother’s perspective, and are not being selfish, but wanting to protect your daughter from making what you believe to be a drastic decision. Nevertheless, try to listen empathically to her point of view, and whilst you may not agree with what she has to say, you may gain a better understanding of her motivation to have breast augmentation. Both the risks and benefits must be openly considered. Ask her if she truly believes enhancing her figure in this way will change her life for the better. She needs to have a realistic perception of the surgery and its outcome, such as her physical recovery, including restrictions on work and social activities, and how she will cope with any complications. Also coax her to assess how she expects to feel about her new body image and the reaction of others once she has her implants. Once you have discussed this, perhaps she will see that embarking on any cosmetic surgery shouldn’t be taken lightly, and that it may be a good idea to reconsider this when she is a little older. For the time being, remind your daughter there is a huge range of beautiful bras available that can enhance all body shapes instantly.

How she currently perceives herself is making her miserable, and I believe she may be suffering from low self-esteem. It would be helpful if she were to explore this with a counsellor. This will  hopefully enable her to gain self-acceptance, which she will learn can only come from within, and not necessarily by enlarging her breasts.

The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Tel: 01455 883300

My partner is having an affair

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 15 April 2016
Three months ago I discovered my partner was having an affair - I was devastated. I adored him and thought he felt the same way. He even brought her to our house, though he denies this. I went to see her. She has a long-term partner, but he is completely clueless about the affair - maybe I should tell him. She cried, apologised and said that I was lovely and nothing like my partner had told her, and that he didn't deserve me.

I don't know which way to turn: there is still love there, but it's not the same. I now check his phone and emails- there is no trust left.

He gets annoyed with me and says I should be 'over it ' and it was a big mistake. Apparently the woman he was seeing said he had admitted to cheating on me a few months before with another.

We are both in our 50's and left our long term marriages for each other. I can't face having to sell our house and start again. We are talking about getting married, but would it be marriage for the wrong reason?

Patricia Marie says...

It is devastating if the person one loves has an affair, as everything previously felt and shared with each other is thrown into question, even if the unfaithful partner ends it and says they still love and want to be with the betrayed spouse. Alternatively, if their lover meant little to them, and is dismissed as just a passing fancy, it can be equally traumatic.

It sounds as if your partner's love for you is inferior to yours for him. You only discovered his infidelity three months ago, so it is totally unreasonable to be expected to 'just get over it'. As he has little empathy for your pain and lack of trust, caused by his adulterous behaviour, he would seem to be exhibiting little regret or respect for you. Trust can sometimes be rebuilt, although never easy to regain completely, but healing a betrayed heart is a lengthy process and perhaps should only be considered if you both can truly see a future together.

You mention that you visited his lover, and are now considering disclosing the affair to her partner. This is a natural reaction, but would not serve a purpose, especially if you are intending to work at your relationship. Perhaps you may benefit from attending Relate, as this type of counselling could help you both explore why the partnership has faltered, and could ultimately create a bond stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever before.

If your partner has a history of affairs, the risks are high that the cycle could be repeated, and it may be better to walk away. However, if you do believe you can make this work, I suggest you put thoughts of marriage to one side for now, until things are more settled between you. If you do then decide to marry, it should be because you really want to be with him, and he feels the same way, not because you can't face selling up and starting again.

I recommend: After The Affair: How to Build Trust and Love Again, by Julia Cole with Relate.
Relate: 0300 100 1234

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