DEAR AMY: My former boss is stalking me. I left my job, and now he is frequenting my house and new workplace by driving by. I, unfortunately, had an affair with this man over 10 years ago. I realize I overstepped boundaries by having the affair with him. I also stayed in the job after the affair had ended because I couldn't find work elsewhere. Now I feel like I somehow deserve the stalking and that there is nothing I can do about it. I have read that the best action is no action, but I am becoming severely depressed, terribly anxious and suicidal. My job is part of a "community," and I wouldn't be able to continue to work in my town if I confronted him and he decided to retaliate by dragging my name through the mud. Help.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: You should seek professional help immediately. If you are feeling suicidal, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at suicidepreventionlifeline.org 800-273-8255 to communicate with a counselor by phone or online. You can send a text to Crisis Text Line: 741741 and seek immediate help. Longer term, you should get a referral for a counselor and commit to ongoing therapy.
You do not "deserve" to be stalked and frightened. No one does!
I do not believe that "the best action is no action." The best action is to take back some control over your life by valuing your own safety and security, and by understanding that you have the right to live your own life, freely and safely. Some of your anxiety and depression might be eased if you can feel empowered.
Increase your security at home by installing outdoor lighting and a camera system.
You should make sure that people at your new workplace know about this. Provide the license number, make, model and color of the vehicle. Their awareness will help you to feel (and be) more secure. You do not need to disclose your previous and long-ago involvement with him, nor should you ever assume any responsibility for his actions.
Make a detailed and accurate log of any time you see his car outside your house or workplace. Seek an order of protection, which would serve to notify this man that he must keep his distance. Call the police and ask to make out a report.
Do not directly confront this person, and don't communicate with him.
ALOHA AMY: If a family member is a male caregiver for our mother, which public restroom does he need to take her to? Our mother is legally blind and needs some assistance. We just don't want to have any problems due to the limited amount of family restrooms available. Thank you in advance for putting our minds to rest. We are caring for our "kupunas" in Hawaii.
ALOHA K: There is no hard-and-fast rule regarding this, and so I'll rely on my own experience as a frequent user of public women's restrooms (and an occasional user of men's — but that's another story for another day).
Men's restrooms can be disorienting for women, and I assume your mother would rather not use one. So go with her preference.
Women's restrooms always have separate stalls. The public area is just used for hand-washing, hair brushing and Spanx adjusting. There is nothing especially private that a gentleman would have trouble unseeing.
If a male voice called in: "Ladies, I'd like to bring my mother in to use the toilet — can we enter?" you would be giving the women in the restroom a heads up. You would also most likely encounter at least one woman who would be very happy to help her. Always use the stall provided for disabled people if possible — it is much roomier.
I have assisted elderly women many times in public restrooms. My own experience caring for older family members has made me eager to try to help in a situation that can be challenging or embarrassing — but it shouldn't be.
After all, your kupuna ("elder") needing to use a public restroom means that she is out and about, squired by a loving and responsible relative. This is GREAT.
DEAR AMY: The letter from "Whipping Boi" raised a number of concerns for me. As I read this account of a very controlling girlfriend, I was skeptical that you would call it what it was: abuse. Imagine my surprise when you did just that. Thank you.
DEAR BEEN THERE: I hope this man takes my advice — to leave.