I told my husband I feel harrassed by a man at church, but he continues to befriend him


#1

My husband befriended a man new to our parish. He met him after mass when we were recuiting parishioners for a new ministry, and he was interested in joining. He seemed ordinary, no red flags, except that after talking with my husband he went home (across the street from our parish) and brought back pictures of himself during a fishing trip. This is when my husband introduced me to him. I thouht it was odd for a 50 year old man to run to his house and bring back pictures as if for a show and tell that a child would do.

Shortly after, my husband invited him for dinner, as this man said he had terminal cancer and has no family in the state, and my husband felt sorry for him. I agreed. We welcomed this man into our home. We wanted to let him know that he would not be alone when the time came.

This was over a year ago. He appearantly had been in remission for longer than we've known him, but he sees himself as a disabled (unemployed), sober, termanill ill patient. He is a very needy person, and clings to my family every opprtunity he gets.

This clinging was tolorable when i first met him because I thought he was a dying man, and I did not know him well. The problem is that he has taken some unsolicited liberties with me, which I believe are inappropriate, and my husabnd, though he has admitted that at times he feels uncomfortable when that man is around me, he still insists that the man is harmless and I should continue to befriend him and gets upset with me when i don't.

I need your opinion to see if the following behavior is harrassment:

At church fuctions, the man would wait for me to be alone to approach me, and if I was not alone, he would remain at a distance, just looking at me.

When he approached to greet us, I would extand my hand out for a hand shake from a distance, and he would take steps forward to hug and kiss me. I hated that he would also do this during mass (he also sits with us during mass) at them time of giving each other the sign of peace. I withdrew the courtesy of shaing his hand, and he would still go for a hug and a kiss ( I could see his lips pucker as he took his first step toward me). I feel so disgusted just remembering this. I actually had to push him away from me, because putting my hands out in front of me as a barrier between him and i was not enough to tell him he was overstepping boundaries.

The worst of it all, is that my husband is been right next to me in these situations, and he thinks it is all harmless.

This is causing a great strain in our marriage. I don't even want to go to mass, because he is always there waiting for us.

Please advice...am i being harrassed or am i wrong to feel this way and for wanting to stay away from this man? what should I do?


#2

I think you need to sit down calmly with your husband and tell him what is bothering you and why. Then tell him that if it continues, the man will not be welcome around you. Your husband needs to stand by you, because you're his wife. You must come before another man. Your feelings are valid.

Have you told the man in so many words that you don't like him to touch you? I have some very huggy friends, and I really don't want other people touching me. I finally mentioned it to one of them, and she spread the word -- stopping hugging Deb!


#3

Don't ignore your gut. If something feels wrong, then it feels wrong.

I can't say if this guy is a real creeper or not, but I did have a few thoughts. It could be that this man has poor social skills. He obviously lives alone and doesn't have anyone to share day to day life with. Is that the cause of or result of his poor social skills? Who knows.

Maybe he is shy and doesn't want to come up to you when you are part of a crowd. You are familiar and safe to him, but not when you are in a group. So he waits until the crowd is gone.

It sounds like he is desperate for someone to connect with, at the same time he needs to learn about boundaries and personal space. People with poor social skills/boundaries don't "get" nonverbal signals. They usually have to be told something point blank. So could you say something like, "the only man I want to hug and kiss is my husband. I am happy to shake your hand" This approach gives the benefit of the doubt that he is just clueless but harmless. Now, if he continues that's a whole different story.


#4

My two cents:

The terminal ill cancer story which turned out to be not quite that way, is a huge red flag for me.

I understand that some people are lonely and I agree with taking them into the family and make them feel welcomed and loved.

But I don't agree with fishing for attention with made up stories like that.

And the behaviour he shows towards you is defenitly a no go! You need to set your boundries here, wether your husband likes it or not.


#5

I would definitely stay away from him from now on. His behavior is NOT normal at all, and there are plenty of cases where harrasment like this progresses into something more dangerous.

You need to find some way of making your husband see how terribly innapropriate and damaging being around this man is. He needs a wake-up call! No good husband would force his wife put up with sexual harrasment by another man. It doesn't matter what is causing the man's behavior. It just needs to stop.


#6

[quote="samaritana, post:1, topic:229384"]

This clinging was tolorable when i first met him because I thought he was a dying man, and I did not know him well. The problem is that he has taken some unsolicited liberties with me, which I believe are inappropriate, and my husabnd, though he has admitted that at times he feels uncomfortable when that man is around me, he still insists that the man is harmless and I should continue to befriend him and gets upset with me when i don't.

[/quote]

Your husband has no right to get upset with you because you choose not to befriend a man who makes you (and your husband) uncomfortable.Your husband is (consciously or unconsiously) not threatened by this man because he is not the one being harassed. His duty is to protect you, and he's not doing that.

[quote="samaritana, post:1, topic:229384"]

I need your opinion to see if the following behavior is harrassment:

At church fuctions, the man would wait for me to be alone to approach me, and if I was not alone, he would remain at a distance, just looking at me.

When he approached to greet us, I would extand my hand out for a hand shake from a distance, and he would take steps forward to hug and kiss me. I hated that he would also do this during mass (he also sits with us during mass) at them time of giving each other the sign of peace. I withdrew the courtesy of shaing his hand, and he would still go for a hug and a kiss ( I could see his lips pucker as he took his first step toward me). I feel so disgusted just remembering this. I actually had to push him away from me, because putting my hands out in front of me as a barrier between him and i was not enough to tell him he was overstepping boundaries.

[/quote]

Unsolicited and unwanted touching is harassment. I'd first start by telling him to stop trying to initiate physical contact. Period. You don't even owe him an explanation as to why. Of course, if asked, I'd say: "I find it inappropriate, so stop doing it". Don't ask him, tell him.

[quote="samaritana, post:1, topic:229384"]

The worst of it all, is that my husband is been right next to me in these situations, and he thinks it is all harmless.

[/quote]

In this case, I think it doesn't matter what your husband thinks is harmless, because YOU feel threatened by the actions, and therefore they should stop. I would be furious if a family member would allow someone to harass me in that way.

[quote="samaritana, post:1, topic:229384"]

This is causing a great strain in our marriage. I don't even want to go to mass, because he is always there waiting for us.

[/quote]

Can YOU go to a different mass? or to a different parish, until your husband takes you seriously?

[quote="samaritana, post:1, topic:229384"]

Please advice...am i being harrassed or am i wrong to feel this way and for wanting to stay away from this man? what should I do?

[/quote]

You are NOT wrong to feel this way, and you are not obligated to let anyone come into contact with you physically, and any unsolicited and unwanted physical contact is definitely inappropriate. And you should stay away from this man. You need to sit down with your husband and tell him that you are dead serious about your feelings regarding this man, and that his lack of support is hurting you. He's supposed to hold you above all others, including his friend across the street that makes him uncomfortable but he finds is totally fine to cross lines that you have drawn. It's one thing to be charitable, but quite another when someone raises red flags in you. Unless he's not taking his vows seriously, he's supposed to protect you like Christ protects the Church, and "harmless" or not, he's not taking that role seriously. The fact that they guy is making your skin crawl is enough for your hubby to understand and support you not having anything more to do with him.


#7

The fact that you now dread going to mass, instead of find it a peaceful spiritually renewing expierence alone should be reason to speak with both your husband and this other person about the situation. If that doesn't work have you considered talking to the priest?


#8

[quote="Arlene, post:3, topic:229384"]
Don't ignore your gut. If something feels wrong, then it feels wrong.

[/quote]

Obey your intuition in this case. What you've described is the behavior of a stalker.


#9

[quote="Alix1912, post:7, topic:229384"]
The fact that you now dread going to mass, instead of find it a peaceful spiritually renewing expierence alone should be reason to speak with both your husband and this other person about the situation. If that doesn't work have you considered talking to the priest?

[/quote]

I agree 100%. Please follow your intuition because situations like these can get scary if not handled correctly.


#10

Tell your husband that you want nothing more to do with this man. There are huge red flags all over the place.
INSIST.


#11

I have to say to go with your gut feelings. It's hard for me to understand why your husband is not supporting you in this issue, but some men are that way (and women, too).

As one poster said, it might be a good idea to sit down with your husband and explain it to him. I was married to a man who didn't notice that as we were walking down the street other men were whistling at me and making derogatory comments. At least he said he didn't notice. I do find that hard to believe, but this is about you - not me.

If you know a priest in your parish, maybe you could talk to him. It's possible that this man is mentally ill and needs help, or that he is a stalker. You don't know. You can't know. All you can know is that it feels wrong. When it reaches the point that you don't feel comfortable going to Mass, there is a real problem.

Please talk to your husband and to a priest. I doubt that talking to the man would do any good. I might question him about his supposed cancer by asking if he is in remission, and then seeing if the answers jibe. He could by lying.

It's very difficult to know what to do. Please keep us up-to-date.


#12

I grew up in a "non-huggy" environment. When I got out into the world more, I found that in some areas hugging with even a friendly peck on the cheek was common - even expected. I slowly learned to get more comfortable with this, although it still often makes me a little nervous.

It's POSSIBLE from what the OP describes, that you really were simply raised a different way and there really is nothing to it. It's ALSO possible that there is more to this. And its also possible that the OP is aware of all this and I'm just not picking it up in her post - and that she's convinced its more...

Does this man hug others? Kiss others? Or are you the ONLY woman he does this to? Ask hubby to watch too.

Your feelings are valid. But if there really is nothing going on, you might want to ask yourself whether you might be willing to learn to be a little more "huggy"? Maybe there is also something here to learn?


#13
  1. assume this man is an actual danger, and take steps to protect yourself. if you are wrong? no harm done.
    seriously.

  2. talk to your husband again when he isnt there and tell him you feel unsupported and threatened. if he doesnt respond then THAT is a problem, even if the guy is harmless.

if he refuses to assist you or take you seriously, tell him you want marriage counseling.

  1. talk to your priest about the issue, perhaps the priest can speak to him about appropriate behavior? in any event you want someone outside of your family to know 1. that you feel harassed and threatened and 2 by who and 3 what he is doing.

  2. check with the local police/district attorney if the guy has a record or a protection order against him.

try to enlist a supportive person to be there when you tell the man in PLAIN language "i am not comfortable with you touching me, or kissing me, thats off limits."

and if you cannot do anything else, i suggest strongly attending a different church from him. but make drn sure you talk to your priest


#14

It seems to me that mountains are being made of mole hills.

Unwanted hugs and uncomfortable looks??? All you have to do is tell the man to stop hugging you. This is not your husband's job. It's your job.

Yes, your husband will protect you. He does not have to jump to your defense when it is within your means to resolve a problem.


#15

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:14, topic:229384"]
It seems to me that mountains are being made of mole hills.

Unwanted hugs and uncomfortable looks??? All you have to do is tell the man to stop hugging you. This is not your husband's job. It's your job.

Yes, your husband will protect you. He does not have to jump to your defense when it is within your means to resolve a problem.

[/quote]

Thank you. This is exactly what I was thinking. So instead of repeating what you've already said I'm going to say: I second this comment.

NOW to the OP if you lay down some CLEAR, well-spoken boundaries and this man continues to push them, THEN I'd pull hubby into the mix but until then you are more then capable of asserting your boundaries.


#16

[quote="nickybr38, post:15, topic:229384"]
Thank you. This is exactly what I was thinking. So instead of repeating what you've already said I'm going to say: I second this comment.

NOW to the OP if you lay down some CLEAR, well-spoken boundaries and this man continues to push them, THEN I'd pull hubby into the mix but until then you are more then capable of asserting your boundaries.

[/quote]

The OP wrote: * "I actually had to push him away from me, because putting my hands out in front of me as a barrier between him and i was not enough to tell him he was overstepping boundaries."
*

that seems like a pretty clear boundary to me, putting your hands up to stop someone from approaching says, "Stay away!" If this man is still trying to get close to her after that clear a signal, then he is either stupid or there is really something creepy going on.

Her own intuition tells her that something is strange. The watching her from a distance is creepy too. Her husband is supposed to protect her, and he should be involved at ALL points, because they are a married couple and what affects one, affects the other.


#17

When my wife and i attend mass and sit next to someone, we usually make sure the man is sitting next to a man, the woman a woman. Can your husband not sit between the two of you? Can you sit at edge of an isle to make sure of it?

I recommend showing your husband your post. It lays out your concerns very clearly. There is nothing wrong with establishing strong boundaries. I wouldn't go overboard and assume this man is a wacko though. Try making sure the boundaries are clearly established, verbally, and if he continues to overstep them. . .have your husband punch him in the mouth.


#18

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:16, topic:229384"]
The OP wrote: * "I actually had to push him away from me, because putting my hands out in front of me as a barrier between him and i was not enough to tell him he was overstepping boundaries."
*

that seems like a pretty clear boundary to me, putting your hands up to stop someone from approaching says, "Stay away!" If this man is still trying to get close to her after that clear a signal, then he is either stupid or there is really something creepy going on.

Her own intuition tells her that something is strange. The watching her from a distance is creepy too. Her husband is supposed to protect her, and he should be involved at ALL points, because they are a married couple and what affects one, affects the other.

[/quote]

He could suffer from any number of social problems. He may need her to say the words aloud, it could be physical cues are not enough for him. I've known people like this, and usually you have to be very clear and very verbal to get the point across.


#19

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:14, topic:229384"]
It seems to me that mountains are being made of mole hills.

Unwanted hugs and uncomfortable looks??? All you have to do is tell the man to stop hugging you. This is not your husband's job. It's your job.

Yes, your husband will protect you. He does not have to jump to your defense when it is within your means to resolve a problem.

[/quote]

ahem, the OP said that telling him to stop, and even "pushing him away" or "shiving him with arms outstreatched away from her" doesnt deter him.
he is also staring at her and making excuses to find her alone.

this has moved well beyond safety.

the problem is also that her husband is not taking her safety and well being seriously, and "insisting she remain friends with" and insisting she "socialize with" a man who she finds threatening... and even he finds uncomfortable

THAT is a problem as well


#20

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:14, topic:229384"]
It seems to me that mountains are being made of mole hills.

Unwanted hugs and uncomfortable looks??? All you have to do is tell the man to stop hugging you. This is not your husband's job. It's your job.

Yes, your husband will protect you. He does not have to jump to your defense when it is within your means to resolve a problem.

[/quote]

Some people have a strong "inner radar" that sense when something is wrong. Others do not. Reading the original post this woman is sensing something is wrong -even if it only seems like unwanted hugs & uncomfortable looks. She knows something is off even if there aren't the right words to describe it. The fact the her husband is not stepping in when generally speaking men are natural protectors is giving this guy a green light.

Only twice in my life have I ignored that inner radar thinking I was over reacting and both times I should have trusted my gut. Not everyone has that instinct because I have seen women get into dangerous situations completely oblivious and I think how could alarm bells not have been going off?

The OP may have been raised like many women to be polite & accommodating and while she would do well to not worry about this man's feelings who is holding her figuratively hostage -her husband would send a far stronger message by stepping in.


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