Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I have two sons, whom I raised as a single mom. Michael died in a
tragic accident last year. Stephen, who had been absent from
everyone’s life for 15 years, appeared out of the blue and has been
harassing and scaring me, my partner, and my granddaughter ever
since. She’s the child of his first marriage, whom he abandoned at age
three. Her mother raised her and I have been a committed
grandmother. Stephen has sent letters to everyone in the family
accusing me of terrible things. He now claims to be a “spiritual
teacher,” saying he’s studied with rabbis in Jerusalem. He regularly
paces outside my office (a locked but secluded campus building).
Yesterday the local paper wrote along article about a lecture series he
plans to give. He’s a fake. He’s scary. What can I do to discredit him
and stay safe?
You’re facing three key issues:
Personal safety: Do everything you can to ensure it. Install and use a
security alarm at home. Post flyers at work saying admitting anyone
without the right i.d. is potentially cause for dismissal. Alert campus
security and ask them to patrol. Keep a whistle with you. I suspect
your explosive rage would be a deterrent if he accosted you, but a
whistle gets people’s attention and they tend to side with the woman.
Ask to have mirrored coating put on your office – the kind where
people cannot see in. It has some security downsides but would
prevent him from looking in and seeing if you were there.
The class: I doubt the local paper will want to invest any energy into a
retraction. Unless you’re prepared to send the reporter a list of
untruths about his credentials (from a gmail or kinkos account), I
would let this go. All it would do is make you more of a target. If he’s
a fake it will show.
Emotional health: This is a challenge to your equanimity. Ask your
family not to tell you or your granddaughter any more details. Say she
is your priority and that you want to concentrate on loving and
protecting her. Ask them not to relate to him at all. Eventually he’ll get
tired of not getting a response. The more you feed this the more it will
eat at you. Mourn your other son. Meditate. Focus on clearing your
head. Find a place of inner safety and stability.