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My mum is terrified

(58 Posts)
Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 15:46:30

I don't know what to do, and if this is normal or of she needs help.

A week ago, my mum was away from home, driving from a restaurant to a hotel. She got a bit lost and was on a pitch dark country lane. She realised there was a vehicle behind her. The vehicle overtook her and then kept braking in front of her. After a bit it suddenly stopped, blocking the road, and a man got out. Pitch dark country lane - my mum was terrified. She didn't stop (thank God) and drove up on the grass verge to get past him. He yelled something at her (she didn't hear what) as she drove past. She then drove off shaking and numb and took a turning, down an even smaller lane, panicking that she was getting herself into a dead end and that he'd follow her. She says she can't remember the drive back but thinks she may have switched off her lights so he couldn't see her. She saw him go past the entrance to the road she'd taken. She got back to the hotel and was badly shaken up.

Two days later, she drove home (a couple of hours away).

I saw her at the hotel and suggested perhaps her brake lights were out and he was trying to warn her. She's had the car checked and it's all working fine, no problems.

I just phoned her, a week later, and she was in floods of tears saying that as a result of said incident she is now terrified in her own home, scared to go out in the garden after dark. She said, 'The truth is, that man meant to murder or rape me'. I get that it's a very frightening idea.

She went to the police but they were a bit hmm as she couldn't remember the make, model or colour of the car, didn't get the reg (was in a panic so understand this). She said the police 'made a fool of her' but it sounds like they were just trying to get her to entertain other possibilities (i.e. they suggested that the other driver's car was breaking down and they needed assistance).

She is adamant this person meant her harm. She said she is scared she has angered him by driving off and that he will somehow trace her and come and 'get' her. I reassured her that this is not possible. She said she keeps replaying the incident over and over in her head, that it's there as soon as she wakes up, that she can't sleep, that she wants to sell her car and move house (but can't) and that she 'doesn't want to go on living like this'. She said it several time and it sounded suicidal, but I don't think she'd kill herself. She lives alone. I do not live nearby.

Does this sound like a normal reaction to what she - an older woman - found to be a very frightening incident, or does she sound like she needs a doctor? Not that I'd persuade her to see one - but I really don't know what to do.

turnaroundbrighteyes Sat 05-Oct-13 15:52:49

Can you persuade her to contact victim support or maybe go with her to the police?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 05-Oct-13 15:54:48

It does sound frightening. Probably nothing more than road-rage but it's clearly shaken your mother's sense of security quite deeply. If it's triggered such a bad anxiety response then I think I would recommend the doctor.

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Oct-13 15:57:08

I would have been terrified too. Realistically, though, how could he know her reg number? It was pitch black, he was running towards her and she nipped out of the way. He wouldn't have had time to remember her reg number.

If she continues to be so agitated, then a visit to the doctor would help, I think.

BerylStreep Sat 05-Oct-13 15:57:12

It sounds like a really scary and traumatic incident for her, but her response seems to be growing a life of its own. I think it sounds like a she has developed some sort of post traumatic reaction to it.

You could help by getting her to focus on the positives, and what control she has and displayed - praise her for her quick thinking - that she did so well to remove herself from the situation etc.

There is the potential though that she needs to see her GP. Could you go with her?

If she is unwilling to see the GP, I wonder if Victim Support could help?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 05-Oct-13 15:57:29

Adding... my own DM was involved in quite a minor car accident a couple of years. She was so shaken that she put her car away and has recently sold it. I don't know how old your DM is but mine (74) certainly felt very vulnerable after that. Totally lost her confidence.

cantreachmytoes Sat 05-Oct-13 15:57:57

That sounds very frightening.

I think her reaction sounds "normal" for someone who experienced something they found to be traumatic. Not that I'm a professional, it's just life experience and seeing different people react wildly differently to the same thing. It sounds like she should see the doctor, not because there is anything "wrong" with her, but because she sounds like she could do with some help in dealing with the thoughts and feelings, before they get any worse. She can move house or sell the car if she likes, but the thoughts are in her brain and that she can't get rid of!

I do wonder too if something happened to her before, that you perhaps don't know about, that this reminds her of.

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Oct-13 15:59:21

And I think he did mean her harm - he overtook her and braked in front of her. What reason could he have for that? If there was a problem he could've followed her car (which would've been bad enough) - if his car was about to break down, he wouldn't have overtaken her. If he was about to run out of petrol what could she have done? Most people have a phone so the quickest thing for him would've been to call someone and ask them to bring it to him. I can't think of a reason why he should act as he did.

LadyVJJ Sat 05-Oct-13 16:01:11

It may have been totally innocent - if it was dark he would not have known she was a l

LadyVJJ Sat 05-Oct-13 16:01:31

Sorry! Lone woman in the car.

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Oct-13 16:01:35

I can't drive quickly in pitch blackness when I don't know the road and I'll often get overtaken by people who seem quite frustrated that I'm not driving faster. I'm not talking about crawling, just driving at 40mph instead of 60.

Do you think that's what caused the original problem with the overtaking?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 05-Oct-13 16:01:53

The overtaking/braking thing is designed to frighten someone. Road rage. He would have had no idea there was an old lady in the car in front. If she was a bit lost on a country lane she was probably driving very slowly and that can be enough to send some people into a fury....

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Oct-13 16:03:58

I think this will be when I find out the OP's mum is younger than I am!

Less of the old lady till we know!

And yes, the overtaking/braking is pure intimidation.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 05-Oct-13 16:04:54

OK... older lady... smile (Also worried about finding out the same thing)

Selks Sat 05-Oct-13 16:09:34

It sounds like it was a terrifying event for her, and she is now having an intense anxiety reaction to it. As she's making statements such as 'not wanting to go on living like this' (which is ambiguous and doesn't necessarily suggest suicidal thinking) and is feeling extremely anxious I do think she should see her GP.

I hope she feels better soon; it must be truly awful for her at the moment. She may need much more contact and support from her family and friends right now and for a while to help her feel safe and secure again. Who does she have that might be able to offer her more contact and company? You live a distance away, but could you phone her more often for a while maybe?

dixiechick1975 Sat 05-Oct-13 16:13:33

I would encourage her to see GP - they may be able to refer her to a counsellor. Even chatting it over may help.

It does sound like road rage to me - national speed limit road - man irate that she was doing nothing like the national speed limit nearly goes into back of her - pulling in and braking in front of her to give her a taste of her own medicine (not condoning road rage just perhaps a more palatable explanation than rape/murder)

Would being practical and looking at ways to make her feel safer eg hands free phone she can use in car, sat nav, improved lighting at home possibly help.

The GP should be able to refer your mother to a mental health specialist like a psychotherapist.

As an alternative to the GP providing a counselling service (as waiting times to access this can be a mile long) I would suggest your Mum talks either to Victim Support or BACP in the meantime as well (they are a counselling organisation).

It sounds like your mother is having PTSD (post traumatic stress) following this road rage incident (I would certainly see this as a road rage incident); it would be enough to shake anyone frankly and she is indeed traumatised by the whole experience.

Would think the police did take her seriously but your mother was not understandably able to provide much information on this person.

DoNotTellMeWhatToDo Sat 05-Oct-13 16:31:10

Sounds like an insurance scam to me. They wanted her to crash into the back of their car so they could fraudulently claim for damage and injuries. It happens a lot and there are people who do plan this over and over.

Maybe this explanation might calm her fears.

DoNotTellMeWhatToDo Sat 05-Oct-13 16:32:14
TeWiSavesTheDay Sat 05-Oct-13 16:32:48

GP. My MIL was hugely shaken up after an accident on the motorway, she's not old, it was just one of those things that could have been much worse and she lost her confidence/for very stressed about the what ifs.

She was offered cbt which she found helpful.

It was probably road rage, or possibly an insurance job.

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Oct-13 17:31:55

I don't think the OP's mum's situation sounded like an insurance scam.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 05-Oct-13 17:35:13

Having been the victim of an insurance scam I agree with you IB... IME scams are set-up to look like a genuine accident.

CrockedPot Sat 05-Oct-13 17:38:36

This kind of thing makes my blood boil, who do people think they are to do this? How terrifying for her, I have no advice other than what you have had but I really feel for your mum and hope she can get some perspective on it and move on.

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 17:43:45

I think it is far more likely that it was a road rage incident or an attempt at a staged accident for an insurance scam than that he meant to physically harm her.

Whichever it was your mother needs professional help. Her reaction sounds like it could become entrenched and worsen rather than resolve all by itself. Any decent GP would be sympathetic and refer her for counselling.

mrspicklepants Sat 05-Oct-13 20:22:37

Your poor mum that sounds terrifying. Does she live alone? I know dogs are for life but a nice big dog has always made me feel safe in my home even wen dp works away during the week!

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