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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!

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.

34DD Sat 05-Oct-13 23:56:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

34DD Sun 06-Oct-13 00:05:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BerylStreep Sun 06-Oct-13 17:03:04

I think there is a balance to be struck between acknowledging & validating your Mum's feelings, and providing so much mitigating support that it actually starts to reinforce her fears.

A close relative of mine is a clinical psychologist, and they have always been quite matter of fact about needing to move on and put things behind you.

FWIW, I think it was road rage - some arsehole who didn't deem your Mum's driving to be fast enough. However, even if it was an opportunistic rapist / murderer, she dealt with it really well - she got away. And if she lives some distance away from the incident, it is extremely unlikely that they will make attempts to track her down.

I wonder if you could contact DVLA and discuss with them your Mum's fears about checks being made on the system. I am aware that they can set it so that if a request for info is made, it will create a flag.

Reality Sun 06-Oct-13 17:17:05

This happened to a friend of mine, she was chased and blocked by a car. Her adult son was asleep next to her with his seat flat. She woke him, and he sat up and as soon as he did the other car drove off.

They definitely meant her harm.

I'm so sorry this happened to your mum.

Missbopeep Sun 06-Oct-13 17:26:23

This may sound a bit OTT but I am sure I've read that you can buy the equivalent of a 'blow up doll'- a fake passenger- to put in the passenger seat so that from a distance it looks like a bloke there. Or just buy the doll grin

ImperialBlether Sun 06-Oct-13 19:36:30

How can anyone say it was almost certainly a road rage incident? None of us knows why it happened.

In a typical road rage incident one person believes the other person has done something to cross them, such as cutting in or undertaking. That's why they get out of the car, to insist they were in the right. If someone's just going a bit slowly, they tend to try to push the car out of the way so that they can overtake, but don't tend to get out to argue the point.

This man braked sharply in front of the OP's mum and got out in the middle of a country lane. I don't think that's road rage, personally; I think the driver knew there was a woman on her own.

But in the end none of us knows and that's the problem for her poor mum.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Sun 06-Oct-13 20:03:21

I read your OP and the same episode of crimewatch your mother must have seen came straight back to my mind. Her description is exactly the one of the woman then. It was a good seven years ago. The poor lady was in her late fifties and was driving to work very early was stopped by a van overtaking her vehicle forcing her to stop.

I would be shaken as your mum is now.

I would get her to speak to someone about her fears. I expect it was opportunist rather than about her, but I would be shaken.

Pass her an online well wisher's (((hugs))).

mikkii Mon 07-Oct-13 07:24:24

Not long after I started driving I suffered a similar incident, although mine was on a 3 lane road similar to a motorway. The driver waited until I had passed the only garage and one onto a rather desolate stretch. He was wearing a white shirt and a hat like a policeman (I was about 18 at the time, nearly 25 years ago). He steamed up to me, drove alongside me pointed me into the side of the road, when I ignored that, he pulled in front of me and braked. I drove around him (3 lane road) and continued my journey home.

I told my older sister (I had taken her and her son home) and she called the police. They never took a statement. That was a shame because a week later a girl did stop for him.

Please tell your mum how wonderfully she dealt with the situation.

Try to get her to consider some of the measures suggested above.

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