Sunday, June 15, 2008
Of former spouses, stalkers, and the cure for them
My buddy Lawdog has another good post on his blog, dealing with the type of critter who refuses to let go of a former spouse and continues to imagine that he has some kind of right of possession over her.
I've had to deal with several such critters in my time, some as a friend of the former wives involved, some as a pastor to whom they turned for assistance. I've never understood the mentality which says that as soon as a woman says 'I do', she turns into his slave, to be at his beck and call for the rest of her life. Furthermore, divorce doesn't change that. If she has the temerity to take another boyfriend, or lover, or husband, it's a personal slight against her former spouse, who has the 'right' to ensure that if he can't have her, neither can anyone else.
I'm regularly sickened to read of men who kill their former spouses, or children, or both, and then commit suicide. They literally can't accept that they no longer 'own' them.
There's usually only one way to deal with truly obsessive persons of this type, and that's to remove them from temptation. This can be done by incarcerating them; and/or by moving their former spouse and children to a safe location where they can't be traced (although critters can be very ingenious at finding them); or, if push comes to shove, by giving said critters their own personal plot in the local cemetery.
I'm reminded of one case in particular. The lady in question had divorced her husband after several years of abuse, and had moved, with her two children, to live with her parents in the town where I was currently active as a pastor. She was a nice person, and the kids were great, and she was making a new life for herself.
Then critter got out of jail and started pestering her.
Things went from bad to worse fairly quickly. He began hanging around her parents' home, stalking her, following her around, following the kids, uttering unspecified threats against her new boyfriend, etc. She did all the legal things, including taking out a restraining order, but he tended to ignore such things. The local cops and sheriff's department were very sympathetic, but unless he could be caught in the act, they couldn't do much.
She came to me for advice, and I gave her some. (Remember I'm an African boy, and in Africa we have simple, straightforward and fairly permanent solutions to such matters. We're not nearly so civilized as some in the USA.) She grinned ferally, thanked me, and left to discuss the matter with her boyfriend, her parents, and some of their neighbors (and hunting buddies).
That night a welcoming committee waited for her former spouse to make his usual slow pass in front of her parents' house, leering at her, yelling things. As he turned into the road leading past her house, the first two members of the 'committee' greeted him with salvos of birdshot from their trusty shotguns. This removed large quantities of paint from the quarters of his car, speckled the windows with lead (they used small-size birdshot that wouldn't break them), and caused him to accelerate rapidly away from danger.
His progress down the street was marked by further gunshots (a great many of them) as the neighbors all got into the act. They'd been instructed to use only fine birdshot, nothing larger, but I regret to say that some of them saw fit to ignore this instruction and use buckshot, or even slugs. They did obey the request not to shoot at the driver . . . but by the time his car reached the house of his former wife and her parents, his vehicle was riding on its rims, there were several shotgun-slug-size holes in the rear bodywork, and he was screaming loudly.
As he came to the house, he was greeted by former wife, her parents (both of them), and her current boyfriend.
All four of them with shotguns.
After their fusillade had removed what was left of his car's paintwork, he was merrily sent on his way by the laughter of all concerned as his battered, holed car jolted away on its rims. Reports that a liquid brown trail was dripping from the driver's compartment are unconfirmed.
He actually had the gall to try to lodge charges against those involved. The local policemen (who were - and are - the best kind of lawmen) informed him that yes, of course he could file charges against anyone who did so dastardly a deed as to shoot at him . . . but where did he say this had happened?
He did realize that if he laid charges against them, he would be behind bars himself, for violating a court order of protection, didn't he?
He left town on the bus that same night, abandoning his shot-damaged car, and wasn't seen again. His former spouse later married her boyfriend ("the couple that shoots together, stays together," perhaps?), and the kids are very happy with their new dad.
I love it when a plan comes together . . . and I'm pleased to say that I provided some of the birdshot involved. My friends usually used larger sizes for the birds and animals they hunted, but I mostly shot at clay pigeons, so I had the smaller size birdshot most appropriate for the purpose. It might not have been the most pastorly action I could take, but it was definitely one of the most satisfying!