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Stalked by my sister!

My sister is obsessed with me online and it’s wearing me down. How can I make it stop?

Do your best to ignore it, says our elder. It sounds like your sister needs help.

Dear EWC

I need advice, and the police can’t help. My sister stalks me. Especially online. I’ve blocked seven different Facebook profiles and she won’t leave me alone. She makes post after post about me. Putting me down as a mother, calling me ugly. Anytime I post a picture of myself, she posts one. Like it’s a competition. And I don’t have to see it to know it. Family members and friends tell me about it. With how close the posts are to mime, she has to be on my profile constantly. Literally. It’s within minutes. She makes fun of my miscarriage. She tried to tell the father of my children they weren’t his. She does and says everything she can to try to make things miserable. It’s wearing me down. She’s nine years older, at 38. It shouldn’t be like this. She was abusive as a kid too. No one wants to help me but I’m afraid of her obsession with me. I haven’t even talked to her in a year. And it’s all day every day.

PJH replies

Your letter makes sad reading. My first thought was along the lines of so close yet so distant. Your sister’s obsession with you is a perverse measure of how much she cares about your presence in her life when there are so many other ways to spend time and create attachments. I don’t want to psychologize but can’t help wondering about her life before you arrived on her scene. It sounds like she’s stuck at nine years old and mad as hell you stole her limelight. Twenty-nine years later she still acts like a spoiled child, seeking ways to upstage you. As you say, it shouldn’t be like this, but there are legal limits to what one can do about an infantilized adult.

The best advice I can offer is you allow your sister to expose her regrettable immaturity to anyone who cares enough to read her posts. I’m sure most people already scroll through them without paying attention, and that cues me to remind you that attention is what she seeks. The more she detects your annoyance the more pleased she is with her behavior, so your best defense is to ignore her provocations until something happens to disrupt them, perhaps until in a moment of clarity, or shame, she realizes how much she is hurting both of you.

I’m wondering whether your sister gets any adult attention or feedback from friends or family. Is there anybody in her world ready to tell her she needs help? Or offering it? Is this obsession typical or unique? Does she keep her oddness just short of obvious madness, or is she already getting mental health care? I think you might get some insights by checking online the huge range of symptoms that get diagnosed as obsessions. I don’t want to imply your sister is ill, but she seems to steer pretty close to symptoms that take over people’s lives. I doubt you’re at risk, but it might help if you can get an assessment of her emotional balance from a family member who cares about both of you and maybe follow up with a consult with a mental health professional.

Meanwhile, I recommend you do what you can to ignore and/or minimize her nonsense. If there’s more to this story, or you would like to comment, I’d be happy to hear back from you.

Letter #: 431236
Category: Family

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