Dear Madelaine; my ex is blackmailing me

All letters are kept confidential. Names and addresses have been changed.

It can be very isolating to face spousal/relationship abuse
Dear Madelaine,
I dated my ex girlfriend for about six months before we broke up- there was a lot wrong but mostly it was just because we were fighting so much. She did not take it well and keeps sending me angry messages. I thought I would just ignore her but she is explicit texts between me and her which she threatens to send to my parents (I come from a very religious pakistani family).
She doesn’t even want to get back with me, she just likes keeping me scared and under her thumb. I know mostly girls face this but I feel just as cornered and scared. I want to be a lawyer and this could end me.
Please help, I feel suicidal.
Best wishes,
Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

That sounds like a terrible situation and I am so sorry you are in this mess. Your ex sounds highly bitter and manipulative: the relationship is clearly over and she wishes to keep control over you. I completely understand it is embarassing for you to potentially have these images/texts exposed, especially in a religious family.

As you are a British citizen, and this girl is too, you are thankfully covered by blackmail and harassment laws. It is illegal as of 2016 to release any images of someone without their consent, especially with intent to threaten or manipulate them. Of course a full trial would also be unfortunate given your cultural/family background but even telling her that you would pursue charges might well encourage her to back off.

If you don’t want to talk to her, get a close or trusted friend to do it. Do NOT threaten her with any physical or social implications; make sure you stay on the right side of the law. Discuss it calmly with that person, even if you aren’t going to have anything to do with this person.

Hang in there. Thousands of people, both men and women, are in this position every year: there is life after this.

Best wishes

Madelaine

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