‘My sister’s controlling ex lied about dying so she’d talk to him

In Lalalaletmeexplain’s hit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.

With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

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Dear Lala,

I need some advice for my sister, who was seeing a guy on and off for around a year. He drinks, he’s quite peculiar, doesn’t have many friends, and is overly affectionate in a creepy way. He would shower her with gifts and also gaslight her.

Since ending it, my sister continues to be harassed by this man. She keeps blocking him and he keeps making new accounts. He has also contacted her 8-year-old daughter on Facebook and her 14-year-old son on TikTok to try to get to her, as well as DMing her from his brother’s Instagram account. He even pretended that he was dying so that she would speak to him.

My sister has moved house (not because of him) so he currently doesn’t know where she lives but I am worried that he will find her. She hasn’t reported him to the police because she is worried that she’ll be deemed a bad mum and that she might be told she needs to move away from the area completely – she has seen this happen to friends. What can she do?

The concerned sister wants to know what advice she can pass on
(Image: Getty)

Lala says…

I’m so glad your sister has you. A good support network is going to be important for her at the moment. But I believe that she needs professional support too. I want you to reassure her that nobody would consider her to be a bad parent for falling victim to this man.

If she reports the matter to the police, then it may be passed on to a social worker who might ask for her consent to conduct checks with other agencies to establish how safe her children are. This is routine procedure. A duty social worker will probably call her and ask if she feels like she needs any support and how she is currently managing the risk. Calling the police would be seen as a protective factor. Truthfully, it’s more likely to be deemed risky if a parent isn’t calling the police for this kind of matter.

One of the difficult things about working in domestic abuse in a child protection capacity is that there can be times when it feels like children’s services are victimising victims. What I mean by this is that if a mum keeps going back to an abuser or isn’t calling the police or refuses to move completely away from her support network, children’s services can sometimes take the view that she is the one who is placing her children at risk of harm, even though it’s the partner who is posing the risk.

Lala advises reporting the situation to the police

So, the friends that have had negative experiences after reporting abuse may have sadly been subject to these kinds of expectations from their local authority. But it’s unlikely that this would happen unless it was a case of a mum who was continually allowing a violent ex back into the home. Most social workers and managers are excellent, but I think it would be remiss of me to not note this point.

She doesn’t need to fear this outcome in my opinion because she has done the right thing. They’re no longer in a relationship, she has blocked him, she isn’t engaging, he no longer knows where she lives, she has reported him to the police (or she will have by the time social services contact her). The risks are managed.

Children’s services intervention is not always a negative thing, it can be really positive. If she is offered Early Help support, she should take it – they are there to support and protect families. If children’s services want to do an assessment that should not make her panic. Social workers cannot remove people’s children (not without a lengthy court process, or emergency police powers) and they don’t want to. They want to know that children and families are safe.

I am concerned about the fact that he has contacted the children. It’s important that she has an age-appropriate conversation with them to explain what they should do if he contacts them again or approaches them. I would also recommend that she has a conversation with the school to alert them, and let them know that they should contact the police if he attempts to come to the school to see her at the gates.

“It’s important that she has an age-appropriate conversation with her children”

I’d advise that she contacts Women’s Aid, Refuge or the national stalking advocacy service Paladin, too. I understand people’s reservations about calling the police, the response isn’t always adequate but, in this circumstance, I think it is important.

As well as reporting the harassment, it would be useful for her to request a Clare’s Law disclosure to establish whether he has a criminal history that might indicate that he poses a particular risk. It’s important to remember that having no criminal history doesn’t mean that a person has never displayed concerning behaviour before but knowing his history can help the police to gauge risk. She should definitely tell them that he contacted the kids.

I imagine that in the first instance the police will probably take a report and warn him off. The police will also give her details of a local domestic violence service; she should engage with them if she can as they may be able to support her to get a video entry phone, or panic alarms. They may also be able to assist her with applying for a non-molestation order.

In the meantime, she should ignore all contact from him and continue to block, regardless of whether he’s lying about dying or not. Remind her to expect him to come out with wild claims to get her attention. She should make a record of every time he contacts her and continue to report each time. He may well get bored and go away if she continues to ignore him, but there’s also a possibility of him continuing to escalate, so I do think that erring on the side of caution is the best strategy.


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