When your religious fundamentalist parents stalk you

Stalking is usually applied to a romantic relationship gone bad.

This is why people hesitate to believe me when I say I’ve been stalked by my parents.

After I moved out, my parents showed up unannounced at work or on campus, asking me to reconsider and go to Bob Jones University. The first time it happened, I was walking down the sidewalk to visit a new church since I had no car.  A car drove up behind me honking, my family rolled down the windows, shouting, “Just remember, Bob Jones is still available!”

They often bring gifts: sandwiches, keychains, homemade soup. They seem to think this proves they are good parents. They say this is how they show me they love me.   The professor who was my supervisor when I tutored on campus saw them do this. He said their behavior was abnormal, intended to wear me down and make me give in.

I’m not the only one.

Other homeschool alum have had parents drop off identifying documents at work without asking, another told me her mom found her between classes and gave her a gift card and sent a sheet and towel to her apartment. She hadn’t told her mom her class schedule or her address.

I don’t know what their motivation is.

Maybe it’s guilt. Maybe they think I’ll be brought back into the fold with organic baked goods.

This is how my parents demonstrate that they love me.

My first apartment was unfortunately near the church that shunned me. My parents drove by often to look for my car, texting me “did you sleep at your apartment last night?” I explained my roommate and her boyfriend invited me for a movie night and I slept there. My mom told me it was inappropriate to sleep at a single guy’s place. Never mind that we had a couple of drinks during the movie and I wasn’t safe to drive.

Being honest and open about my decisions only provoked criticism. And they wondered why I stopped telling them things.

In summer 2013, my dad parked outside the nearest stop sign when he knew I would get off work. When I drove by, he jumped out in front of my car so I had to stop. He wanted to change the air filter in my car. He didn’t understand I was startled and angry, that I was afraid I could have hit him.

My parents barged into the middle of a staff meeting for the student newspaper in fall 2013, handing me a parking permit. My dad didn’t wait for me to buy one myself.

I told them I thought their actions were inappropriate in group counseling.

I wrote, “If anyone else who I wasn’t related to followed me around the way you guys do (leaving me random sermon CDs in my bicycle bag when I’m in class, etc), it would be considered really creepy and stalking. Think about it.”

My mom replied, “I do not think it is creepy if we are coming by UCCS from a doctor’s appt., and leave a gift for you in your bicycle sidebag. Sorry you took it that way. We are not checking up on you.”

Last October, my dad showed up at my apartment around 7:30 am, calling me over and over during an exam. He was upset that I didn’t answer right away. He wanted to trade out cars because he was afraid I wouldn’t get maintenance done, even though I’d asked him to let me learn how to take care of my car myself.

And they showed up at my work again last weekend, asked a coworker on his smoke break to bring me a package.

They don’t understand acting like this makes me feel incapacitated.

Fundamentalism doesn’t teach consent, it teaches you to respect authority. Control is normal, so you should be grateful for what they do, even if they don’t respect your wishes.

I don’t feel like an adult when my parents do this. I start to feel like a powerless small child whose parents are always going to check up on her, like all my independence has been taken away from me.

They think this is how to show me that they love me, but I just feel the walls close in.

And I don’t think this is love.

7 thoughts on “When your religious fundamentalist parents stalk you

  1. Weird, I wouldn’t have labeled it at the time, but my family did similar things while I was in the process of disengaging and getting married without approval. Showing up at work was the most embarrassing part. This was the 90s, no cell phones, hard to judge from this distance. It was all about getting me to talk to convince me come back under the umbrella.


  2. My dad once showed up at my work. He didn’t knock on the door or say, just silently moved around the hallways outside until I came out for my break. So creepy and definitely stalker-ish.


  3. My mother invited herself to my house, over 1500 miles away. Until last week when I outed their abuse publicly, she was calling me multiple times a day and trying to get me back under her control by making doctor’s appointments for me, etc. and I lived 1500 MILES AWAY…


  4. I think you could pursue a civil harassment restraining order. My sister had a creepy neighbor that would still show up after she got the restraining order and he had moved. He always had an excuse, just like your dad. He was “helping” another neighbor. He had to be hauled away in a police car.
    It is harder with family, but as you said..their behavior is not OK. If I worked with you, I would not feel safe having them show up. No one does that in a normal workplace. So do it for your co-workers if you can’t quite do it for yourself yet.


  5. I’m so sorry this happened. The checking up on you makes you feel so powerless. It was horrible to deal with as a teen when my mom would do things like follow me around church to try and overhear what I was saying. I couldn’t imagine dealing with similar behavior (even if done for different reasons) as an adult from parents. It really is so scary. I had to deal with it from an ex boyfriend as an adult. The situation was very different, but I can say stalking led to some of my worst PTSD symptoms, compared to other abuses I experienced. You can’t feel safe anywhere when that’s happening, whatever the motivation of the stalker is. And you’re right. It’s all about not getting what consent is. They think they have a right to barge into your life and make their presence known whether you like it or not. It’s a form of control. Consent doesn’t even come into the equation for fundamentalists, especially when you’re the child (even as an adult). They think they own rights to your life 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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