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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.

VisualCharades Sat 05-Oct-13 21:11:44

How terrifying your poor mum. Yes GP ASAP for assessment for psych support from a professional experienced in dealing with trauma

Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 21:18:54

Thank you for all the replies.

She is 65, so not quite 'old lady' territory either - but she is on her own and a bit vulnerable, in terms of not being very streetwise, being very gentle and easily upset.

I didn't think of road rage, but am now wondering if that is a possibility. She was a bit lost so probably driving cautiously, and she also said her sat nav had switched to night colours which threw her as she's never had it on at night before and was wondering if it was broken, so that was probably distracting her a little. When I raised the possibility with her she was adamant that she was perhaps a little slow but not slow or hesitant enough to make someone angry with her, but my mum is not always aware of her own driving... I would like to believe this explanation as this makes him a fucking tosser, but not a murderer/rapist.

She saw a case on the news years ago where a woman got stopped like this in the countryside and was raped and she is fixating on it. She says, 'I was there, I know that he meant me harm'.

I am very annoyed with the police reaction. She got home (2 hours away) and then phoned the police station in the nearest town to where it happened. They said that since she had left she should report it locally. She went to local police and they kind of unwillingly talked to her. They were a bit hmm about her whole story so I hope they even passed it on to the police station where it occurred, in case anyone else reports similar.

I've talked to her a lot tonight and she says she doesn't want to go to the GP as they'll just think she's as stupid as the police obviously did as 'nothing even happened'. She's also worried they'll just offer her sedatives or something, which I know she won't take.

I have reassured her that he couldn't trace her to an address from her car reg, even if he got it. I'm right about that, aren't I?

I've suggested she puts a few more security measures in place, such as putting some lights in her garden, taking her phone when she walks the dog etc, just until she can relax and feel a bit safer. I've also suggested she have a chat to the policeman who lives next door to her, just to tell him she's feeling vulnerable and ask if he could keep an eye on the house for a bit.

Does that all sound ok? She sounded calmer this afternoon but right now I'm looking out the window at the dark night and wishing she wasn't on her own, as I know she'll be worrying. sad

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 21:28:13

Well no you're not entirely right. It is possible to access a DVLA database that gives you the details of a registered keeper from a reg number. I think access to it is restricted though, to the police and insurance companies.

There's no justification for what he did but it was almost certainly a road rage type thing.

Can you go to the GP with her? They won't think its nothing.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 05-Oct-13 21:35:31

As an alternative to the purely road rage it is possible that the other driver saw a car being driven erratically (slowly, sudden braking etc) late at night and was trying to stop a drunk driver.

In the dark the other driver will have no idea if the driver of your DM's car was an older lady who was a bit lost or a 6'8" drunk/drugged bloke.

Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 21:39:49

She has it in her head that the person behind her saw her getting into her car and followed her. I don't know how viable or true that is.

I know the DVLA have a list, for fining purposes and such, but your average Joe Bloggs on the street wouldn't be able to find someone that way, right?

I can't go to the GP with her as I live very far away. sad I'm seeing her at Christmas but not before.

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 21:41:35

I've just checked. Anyone can check it for a credit card payment of a couple of quid.

Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 21:42:46

Oh and she has a dog. Medium size dog.

LePetitPrince Sat 05-Oct-13 21:45:32

Could she come to stay for a bit to get over it or could you or other siblings visit?

I'd be petrified too by the way.

Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 21:48:00

Thanks Chub - that's not ideal. I don't suppose I should tell her that, should I?

I've had a look at the form, and it seems to require good details about why you are asking for the information, plus your own name, address, phone number, d.o.b etc.

It seems unlikely that someone wanting to find someone's address to harm them would go to the trouble of filling in that form and submitting it by post, with a made up reason for wanting to know.

My mum's paranoia (if that's the right word) about this bloke has got me feeling edgy now too!

Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 21:49:17

She can't come and stay because of her work - she just took time off to attend the wedding we were at (the restaurant/hotel venue place) and hasn't got any time left. One sibling is on honeymoon (was her wedding!) and the other is worse than useless, doesn't drive etc.

quoteunquote Sat 05-Oct-13 21:50:09

If you acknowledge that is what happened it will really help, one of the most terrifying parts of a situation like this, is others trying to come up with another rational explanation, when you yourself know what happened.

Her whole piece of mind has been taken away. she will feel incredibly vulnerable.

She saw a case on the news years ago where a woman got stopped like this in the countryside and was raped and she is fixating on

She will keep referring to this because she is trying to demonstrate it does happen, far more than you might think.

Is there a friend she could invite to stay for a bit, and anyone she could visit?

I expect she will be shaken up for quite sometime.

Get her an in car camera to record journeys.

Oh and by the way, she needs to be congratulated on doing all the correct manoeuvres to shake him off, turning her lights off is exactly the way to lose a pursuer on the lanes, well done her.

tribpot Sat 05-Oct-13 21:50:25

You can check it for certain details (dates of registration?), but I'm pretty sure you can't, as a member of the public, check it for details of the registered keeper. I was the registered keeper until recently of a car I thought was in my DH's name and we had the devil's own job getting the DVLA to correspond with us about it as there appeared to be no easy way to get them to admit who the keeper was, so we had to just keep writing letters (it could have been in MIL's name too) until we hit the jackpot.

I do suspect road rage, trying to frighten the driver for not going fast enough, but it must have been very scary. I would want someone staying with me for a while overnight just to be on the safe side; could she come to you?

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 21:51:26

I agree with you, no one with criminal intent is going to provide all that personal data of their own to get her address. But no, definitely do not tell her. In fact I think it would be OK to tell her a bare faced lie in this situation.

I'm not a psychologist, I'm a lawyer but I deal with personal injury claims and I think this is whst a psychologist would call an acute distress reaction. It can get worse and end up as PTSD. She really should go to her GP.

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 21:53:58

And yes it is possible he intended to harm her. It is possible. But the more likely explanation is road rage.

And she did do some incredible quick thinking. I'm sure I would have been too frightened to deliberately sit in the dark to shake him off but that was exactly the right thing to do. She was v v clever to think of that.

Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 21:57:32

Thank you. I guess I keep trying to rationalise it because I feel that it will take the worry away. I really hoped it was her brake lights or something. I can't bear the thought of anyone trying to hurt my lovely mum.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does seem to fit, in part. I guess it's a hard one because everyone (including me) will try to minimise the incident to 'make her feel better' rather than validating her feelings.

Thank you too Chub

As a TOTAL aside, given what you do, I was in a very minor accident a couple of weeks ago (guy reversed into me in a car park) and I was pursued for days by my insurance company 'just checking' if I had whiplash yet and starting sentences with 'Whiplash compensation is worth on average £1500 - £2000, so how are you feeling?'. I was shocked!

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 22:05:52

Oh I know. The insurance industry has done a great number on the government lately convincing them that greedy evil lawyers are persuading people to bring false claims but it's mostly driven by the insurance companies themselves. They used to sell referrals like that (if you had said yes) to their panel firms. Now referral fees are banned they dress it up as a shared marketing expense. Same thing really.

When i was at Uni i was followed home by 3 guys in the dark, they didn't do anything but they did call to me saying "Psst psst Pussycat" and other more derogatory comments. It was so sinister.

This was over 20 years ago and the incident still chills me when i think about it. I am telling you this because even an imagined incident it can and will effect her for some time unless she deals with it. She needs to talk it over with someone, maybe a private counselling session with someone who specializes in PTSD if she wont go to the docs.

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 22:10:42

Fish that is horrible.

They probably had no intention to do anything to you but they did intend to frighten you. Bastards. Who the fuck do men like that think they are?

Overtaken Sat 05-Oct-13 22:11:31

Thank you fish - how creepy! I'm sorry that happened to you.

I wonder if I could organise someone for her to speak to. She was pouring it all out to me, because I think she's bottled it up for the week. We normally talk every day but it's been a busy week after taking time off for the wedding.

She's quite emotional/volatile at the best of times. I do worry about her. sad

Apileofballyhoo Sat 05-Oct-13 22:15:08

I think what happened was very scary and I'd be freaked out myself. Kudos to your Mum. She does need to talk about her feelings and as you said, feel acknowledged and validated rather than dismissed. She may feel empowered by acknowledgement of there being a danger and her own quick thinking.

I wonder what she has in the line of alarms at home? My mother brings her mobile phone to bed every night in case she has an emergency. Concentrating on practicalities could help, and also dealing with those feelings. She needs to take her power back.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 05-Oct-13 22:17:20

I realise that I am going against the grain a bit here but there is a chance that what your DM has done is link together a lot of unconnected incidents. If she was driving slowly then everyone who came up behind her will have come up suddenly if on winding roads. In your rear view mirror it is very hard to tell one car from another.

Your DM is already nervous on unfamiliar roads with a suddenly unfamiliar Sat Nav. would even have my doubts about the other driver deliberately blocking the road.

Every time your DM relives this the whole thing will get bigger and scarier.

Also driving without lights is not at all sensible. That is a good way to end up in a ditch or running some poor innocent over.

IMO your DM really does need to seek some professional help as her fears are taking over her life.

My own DM (a few years older than yours) is an absolute sucker for the urban myths. She regularly has to be talked down from believing every single story about baby seats on the side of the road to lure unsuspecting women into the clutches of rapist and murderous gangs who are apparently stalking our country roads.

mrsmillsfanclub Sat 05-Oct-13 22:17:25

The exact same thing happened to me years ago, it was down to an arsehole having road rage because I was going slow ( in his opinion). I had my then young dd with me & 12 years on can still remember the fear of this man overtaking and slamming his brakes on in front of my car.
I reacted like your mum, got round him and hid down a country lane. I was shaking with fear, it was awful.

She may need to talk it through with a professional. Poor love.

Chubfuddler Sat 05-Oct-13 22:19:51

You could be right worry. But the ops mums feelings are real, even if actually baseless.

My mother can be a sucker for urban myths and scare stories, her sisters are even worse. I do manage to talk sense into her usually but that's just when she's got a bee in her bonnet about the latest FB nonsense.

Missbopeep Sat 05-Oct-13 22:23:10

Suggest she contacts Victim Support.
On a practical note, if all her car doors were locked it is unlikely she'd have come to any harm although in her fear she'd not be thinking clearly. He'd have had to break her wiindows to harm her and I'd say that was unlikely.

On another practical note, the AA does offer extra driving lessons for nervous drivers or anyone who needs more practise such as on motorways or country lanes, or in the dark. It might help her to take some lessons if she is a nervous driver.

Again, being practical, she ought to have a car with sat nav, carry a phone and in the same situation could have dialled 999 with her doors firmly locked.

Easy to say with hindsight- but talking all this through with her might help.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 05-Oct-13 22:27:45

No, I agree that her fears are real which is why she should get some help.

My DM believes in the the urban myths (and forwards all the scare story emails on to me so that I am warned as well).

The problem comes when these fears start to dominate and inhibit your life.

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