Thursday, December 26th, 2013

This Restraining Order Expires On Tuesday

The first time "Misty" broke into the backyard to pound and scream at the bedroom window, the police handcuffed her and said—her face pressed to the hood of the idling black and white—that she was not to return. I figured we would never see her again after that early morning in 2012. But the next night, around 1 a.m., I was in bed with my new boyfriend, "Scott," and we heard the bedroom door slowly crack open. Scott jumped up. "No! You can’t be here!" he shouted, all high-pitched.

At the end of this calendar year, our second restraining order against Misty expires. The Misty saga (this is the truncated version) has pushed me to the limits of empathy. It has been an education, of course, but one streaked by repulsion, rage, and pity. It has been my first true introduction to madness, the sort there is no reasoning with, that is beyond mood or medication. It is pre-social and it is dangerous.

Misty would eventually bring violence into my bedroom, and violence is ugly, and it brought out something terribly ugly and deformed in me.

Over the past year I’ve clandestinely kept tabs on Misty through Facebook. I’ve learned about the suicides in her family, about the casual violence she grew up around, the deeply tumultuous relationship she has with her parents. Depending on her mood, she will sometimes refer to things irreverently, other times with a palpable sadness. Sometimes I want to reach out and offer a friendly ear, since we share some sort of perverse history. Before Scott and I moved out of his house, I slept on the same mattress she once did. But then there are other times, when I think about her and I want to hit her very hard, harder than she hit me.

Scott and I have known each other for 15 years and I have always harbored a crush. I saw him in his high school’s production of Les Misérables where he played the convict-turned-factory owner Jean Valjean, wearing a midnight blue army surplus jacket meant to evoke the fashion of revolutionary France. Scott’s voice cracked on a high note during his first solo and I swooned. This boy—who looked like a football player and sang bravely in front of his indifferent classmates—seemed to have the perfect combination of sap and mettle.

Last year I heard that Scott had just emerged from a snake-pit relationship. When I asked around about Misty, our friends said she was crazy. But I know the value "crazy" has in the currency of gossip. I know it’s a term most often applied to a female partner when she falls below the expectations of a group. Before my first date with Scott, I heard that he and Misty had formed a kind of cocoon of melodrama and sadness that kept the rest of the world out. She had ruined dinners and birthday parties through slow boiling tension that would explode behind closed doors into hysterics.

I text-messaged Scott for the first time in years, we grabbed dinner, I asked about Misty, he said that even though they had split four months earlier, every few weeks she would have some episode in the middle of the night, and call him 30 times in a row, then show up at his house if he did not answer. None of this bothered me, because Scott made me feel so full of life during our first night together, I felt like I had captured some glorious hybrid of Midwestern manners, extroverted modernism, with huge charisma and no active Twitter account. Scott, to borrow a phrase from e e cummings, unclosed me.

That first night, we stayed at my house, and after having an intimate conversation in bed, we noticed his phone had 41 missed calls from Misty.

Then came the texts. She was at his house.

12:03 AM: Where are you? I’m staying here
12:05 AM: Please come back. I’m not going to lose you. I’m not going to give up. Please come back I want to see you. I love you
12:06 AM: I’m too drunk to drive home, can I please stay?
12:10 AM: Ok I’m staying.

Scott turned off the phone. The next morning when we checked again there were 16 more:

6:41 AM: By the way the pup tore the shit out of the house, but don’t worry I cleaned it up. If you can’t take care of him then you need to put him up for adoption.

The "pup," Levi, is a half-beagle, half-Boston Terrier Misty bought for $700 from a breeder during the nadir of their relationship. Misty and Scott agreed to some sort of joint custody since he had a backyard. This, of course, is a stupid plan for any couple looking to actually sever ties; not only involving a dependent living creature but also a joint set of house keys.

When Scott and I went to his house that morning to feed and walk Levi, we discovered Misty had washed all the dishes in the house and changed the bed sheets too.

My initial reaction to all of this was shock, but with a slight shimmer of recognition. I’ve also embarrassed myself for men. I’ve never slept in a guy’s bed without being asked to, but I have sent regrettably maudlin text messages to ex-boyfriends. I’ve shamelessly pleaded for a man to come back to me. And once, during a particularly devastating argument with a boyfriend who lived a few hours away, I called him for 20 minutes straight until he answered the phone. These were acts that I found incredibly shameful during the mandatory emotional inventory that occurred the next day. They were radical maneuvers from the emotional high-wire act of my early 20s where every relationship seemed like my last chance at love.

Had I not known Scott since we were teenagers, I don’t know if I would have stuck around—ok, that’s an absolute lie. I was totally intoxicated with Scott and voyeuristically intrigued by this trashy gothic horror show. I also believe that you can make someone’s life a little more tolerable if you help them say no to things that are bad for them (I learned this in a Twelve Step program!). Scott changed the locks and his cell phone number, and we made plans for dinner the next evening.

At 1 a.m. the next night, I came face to face with Misty. She was on the front porch, knocking gently on the door, politely, as if this were like any other visit. Misty explained calmly through the screen door that she was just there to see Levi and take him to "the beach for the weekend."

I figured some huge wave of despair had brought her crashing onto his doorstep but she was poised and cool. No trembling, wild gestures, or mascara-made trenches on her cheeks. Scott called the police and asked her to leave. She didn’t move, except that she kept clicking her useless key back and forth on the lock, over and over. It was "no big deal," she repeated flatly, her eyes glassy and expressionless. It was like witnessing what the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion called "a thought without a thinker."

Levi heard Misty’s voice and began to whine, yelp, and scratch at the door.

"Leviiiiii," Misty called out. "Levi, come here, baby."

Scott and I rushed the dog into the bedroom and waited for the police. Misty scaled the fence, ran to the backyard window, and started thumping the glass. She then lit a cigarette and began to make her case.

"Look, Scott," Misty said in a conciliatory tone, as if sheer politeness would defuse situation. "I don’t know who this new girl is, and I don’t care, I don’t want you back, I have a new boyfriend now. I just want the dog, I don’t know why you’re acting this way."

Up until this point I had been silent, letting Scott enforce the boundaries, allowing him to set up the new order of things. I don’t really do fights. I grew up an only child in a warm household with two communicative parents. I never got rough and tumble with a sibling and I never got a spanking. I can get mouthy and a little loud when in the throes of some domestic squabble, but nothing out of the ordinary.

And then something ruptured in me and I started screaming at the window. "Bitch, I’m the bitch who’s in this house! You’re the bitch outside of this house! You need to fucking leave! Get the fuck away!"

My plan, concocted in a nanosecond, was this: I would just shame her into leaving. She wanted a fight with Scott, but I wouldn’t let her have it, and I could think of no greater shame than getting yelled at by an ex-lover’s new girlfriend. Shame is probably the greatest regulating force of my 20s—the dark magic that compelled me not to do stupid things over and over again.

"Fucking leave! You need to fucking go!" I screeched.

She waited until I was done, and lit up another cigarette. “Are you really cursing at me? Really classy.”
I started to shake. What the fuck were we even dealing with?

Two LAPD cops put her in cuffs. Misty told them that Scott had kidnapped her dog. This created more confusion and yelling. The police said that without a restraining order and without Misty committing any acts of vandalism, they would have to let her go. This made us feel powerless. I had the suspicion that, if Misty had been a six-foot man the police would have taken the threat more seriously.

The handcuffs came off and Misty drove away.

We filed the emergency restraining order against Misty the next morning. I read Scott’s affidavit. In their 16-month relationship, she’d hit him, bitten him, slapped him, smashed his computer, swung a knife at him, then put it to her own chest and threatened self-slaughter. Surely, he too must have the seeds of drama and madness buried in his body, I thought. What would I do if the victim became the victimizer? I would silently wonder, with rankling dread: What red flags am I missing? How could he date someone as damaged and abusive as Misty?

That evening we tried to relax and rehash the prior events, thinking that we’d taken the final and necessary step. But something was stuck. I knew from my conversations with Scott that Misty didn’t just turn into a ghoul one day. Her sort of victimization is systematic and had to be, at some level, enabled by Scott. There were no children, no mortgages, no external pressures keeping Scott and Misty together, so, I reasoned, there must be some collusion, some trauma they were both living out (I also learned this in a Twelve Step program!). They were shadowboxers but Misty’s blows eventually became real and Scott lacked the foresight, self-regard, or courage to leave her. I tried to relax in Scott’s bed and just as I did, Misty appeared in the doorway.

"No! You can’t be here!" Scott cried, as he scrambled out of the sheets.

"I just came to see about the dog!" Misty shouted, rushing towards Scott.

Scott managed to wrangle Misty backwards away from the bed but she broke through and, before I could get fully to my feet, her arm swung back and I felt a fleshy thud against the side of my head.

She looked me in the eye, her nose ring glinting in the lamplight. "That’s what you get, you fat cunt," she said.
She swooshed around, threw open the door (she had broken in through the window), and ran away into the night.

There was another series of confrontations with Misty but most of them took place in a courtroom, or through the unregulated space of fake Facebook profiles and anonymous emails. In the days after our first six-month order expired in 2013, Scott’s phone buzzed at 1 a.m.

It was text message from Misty that just read: ‘Hi.’

Have you ever watched two girls in a street fight? It’s very awkward and usually there’s more hair-pulling and grappling than blows because most girls don’t have practice in throwing a closed-fisted jab. But Misty’s punch was a precise, practiced blow, the sort I have never once received or delivered, but have certainly witnessed parents issue to a wailing child in a supermarket or to a disobedient teen. I think Misty has been on the end of that punch before.

I’ve spent a lot of time around foster teens and delinquent juveniles. I know that, usually, any maladapted behavior they show—violence, shoplifting, habitual lying—goes back to their parents. When you meet a kid in lock-up, you’re meeting someone whose family system has failed or was never there at all. Talking to them makes you ache for, and resent, the parents of these wayward kids.

Over the past year, I’ve tried to diagnose Misty. The best I can do is borderline personality disorder. When Misty’s fist plowed into the side of my head, I was thrust into "Borderland." Psychologists use this term to describe the emotional universe that those who suffer from borderline personality disorder create for themselves and those around them. In her book for clinicians, How to Talk to a Borderline, the psychologist Joan Lachkar writes: "People who live in Borderland … make up their own rules, have a weak hold on reality, are unpredictable, impulsive and volatile; and hear what they want to hear."

The people of Borderland are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn victims. They have no psychological skin to protect them from the push and pull of the outside world, so every movement causes pain and agony. All emotional movement in Borderland is high-stakes, and the population reacts swiftly, and severely, sometimes violently to anything they perceive as a challenge or a threat. Borderland, ironically, has no borders. It moves with its population.

Lachkar describes the characteristics of the disorder: low self-esteem, loss of ego identity, suicidal ideation, impulsivity, acting out, inflicting harm on self or others, persecutory anxieties, abandonment and betrayal fears, distorted sense of dependency. Victimization. Intense rage.

There is no gene, that we know of, for borderline personality disorder. Borderlines are most often made. Unlike bipolar depression, psychosis or schizophrenia, being borderline is not an issue of low serotonin or misfiring synapses. Misty does not have an organic brain disease that causes her impulsive and volatile behavior. There are countless transgressions that needed to occur in Misty’s life for her to be this way. That's what makes this whole affair so grim. If the dark force that drives Misty to hit, manipulate, and victimize could be counterbalanced properly through a pharmaceutical regime, then the problem would have a narrow scope. Borderline personality disorder often has its roots in systematic childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment. “In the most subtle and insidious manner,” Lachkar writes, “borderlines have a way of making others feel and suffer the pain and devastation they experience and cannot contain or tolerate.” Misty’s violence is not necessarily a failure of biology but of human care.

Scott told me that Misty grew up with neglectful parents, that her father beat her and that her mother was too dependent to leave him. I felt nothing but callousness towards her. I fantasized about another confrontation. My psychologist friend Liz pointed out that hardness of heart is also part of the cyclical nature of this violence. I can immerse myself in Jungian theories about object relations and read books about dynamics in families to better psychoanalyze Misty, but all she does is bring out the primitive impulses of revenge in me.

I continued to lurk around her Facebook page long after Scott and I stopped talking about her, excusing myself as if I were scanning her page for evidence of threats against us. Her outbursts about Scott and me eventually grew more sporadic by this summer, a full year since the break-in. There were a few explosive fights between Misty and her family that genuinely shocked me for their aggression and name-calling. She would complain about being lonely, then openly lash out at the few people who tried to console her. She’d rant about the way strangers looked at her, the disrespect her boss always showed her. She bragged that “daddy raised me right’ even though he “kicked my ass from time to time."

I stopped checking in on Misty altogether on the day she posted her first sonogram and announced her pregnancy.

Sometimes I think about Misty as a little girl. I see her spending slow afternoons in the backyard of a small subdivision in southern Georgia. I picture the smallness of her white socks and the weed thistles she plucks out from their bottoms. I trace the awkward angle at which she holds her cereal spoon. I think of her arranging plastic hair barrettes by the colors of the rainbow. I see the half-moon whites of her tiny fingernails. She has the same eyes that all little kids have: enormous and searching. I see her there—tiny and ready like a teacup—waiting for someone who never comes.

Natasha Vargas-Cooper is a reporter in Los Angeles. Photo by Paul Hagius.

85 Comments / Post A Comment

josephhughes (#256,207)

Congrats on not writing for buzzfeed! And on a subject that isn't directly about high school kids! Maybe someday people will start taking you seriously.


I feel truly sorry that two years after the event you are still writing about me. Half of these details about me are not even true. Yes, I grew up in a tough environment at times but my parents are truly good people. My father disciplined me, perhaps you didn't get enough as a child? It's not appropriate to talk about someone who was at the time struggling to find her place. While I'm not proud of what happened, I know now that he was part to blame. It takes two in a relationship. I blamed myself for everything and lost my own self respect in the process. He once told me the only thing of value I had was what I had between my legs. Somehow, even after that I still wanted to be with him. He made comments about how to do my hair, how I looked stupid in my Disneyland photo, etc. Apparently, he thinks he's gods gift to women. Cleaning up after and paying for everything eventually led to my outburst. I'd had enough. Why should I give him gas money to take another girl out to dinner? I did. You can have him and his family, you've got a winner. Now, I've asked you numerous times to stop writing about things you have no idea about on your blog. I will involve authorities if I must. I'm not bipolar nor is my father a child beater. I didn't even grow up in Georgia, I grew up in Massachusetts and lived there until I was 16. If you're going to flatter me by writing about my life, at least get your facts straight. Perhaps this is why you are failing as a writer. Find some new material.

Bipolar "Misty"

redPill (#256,267)

@Kara Ashley Pluta@facebook Strange. You look just like I had imagined you to be from the story. Devious, cunning and very, very dangerous.

agk (#256,357)

@Kara Ashley Pluta@facebook You are showing that you are exactly as deranged as you are in the story.

However you are providing delicious entertainment.

This chick has been harassing me via online posts for the past few years. Please do not read her trash. Thank you.

diestadteinhorn (#250,360)

This was a nasty read. I feel more sympathy for 'Misty' and expected more from The Awl than articles written to trash exes.

werewolfbarmitzvah (#16,402)

This was terrific and completely fascinating, and it now becomes even more fascinating as the actual insane girl shows up right there up above in the comments section, AAAAAAHHHHH!!!

Whistler (#256,266)

I know exactly this kind of crazy, Natasha. Expect a little more chaos in your life, since the crazy lady is clearly still following you, evidenced by having immediately posted after your story ran (and deleting some of her comments immediately after posting them).
Stay strong. It can take years for someone like this to latch onto a new victim.

@werewolfbarmitzvah the one who is truly insane is the writer of this article. She's been stalking my Facebook page, calling me, and texting me from random numbers. It's starting to get very creepy. If you support bullying and her mental disorder, good for you! This lady is crazy and obviously bored. The statements from the article are not even true.

@Whistler I'm not following her, I'm in pursuit of legal action against her. This article gives me all the more ammunition needed to contact authorities. She's psychotic and won't leave me alone! Good for you! It's immaturity at it's finest.

Whistler (#256,266)

@Kara Ashley Pluta@facebook

Pretty much exactly the response I was expecting.

Hope you had a lovely Christmas holiday, and have a happy new year.


That's good. All I'm really trying to do it stand up for myself. She's posted really personal and defaming info. I really don't think there is much else going on in her life at this time. This "event" occurred a long time ago. Glad she failed to mention the numerous things her wonderful man did to me.

@redPill I'm super devious, and dangerous. I love making cupcakes. :)

Ireaditall (#256,270)

Kara, I find it annoying that you are so content on making so many replies to this article. Please, for the sake of your reputation or, at the very least, to allow yourself to at least continue appearing the slightest bit with sanity, please stop replying to the messages here.

Natasha, it takes two to tango. "Scott" wouldn't have been in that relationship for a year and a half if he wasn't complicit in the goings-on in the whole thing. Both of them were likely at fault and while I would love to believe that here the two of you are now, happy and content, COME ON.

This whole article seems like a plea to help YOU to look like you're some kind of victim. The relationship you have with Scott will come to an end and rather than blaming yourself or Scott, you'll blame "that crazy bitch Kara."

A fun read but having been in a relationship with a psychopath, I know that I chose to stay in it and further lubricated the cogs that turned on the insanity. Things wouldn't have gotten to where they were, with me, if I had never been there in the first place … "Scott" is no different. Pffffft…

doggiedont (#256,271)

@Ireaditall OMG this comment is the creepiest! It's Kara masquerading as a third-party "voice of reason" — she can see that Kara's acting crazy BUT ALSO needs you to know that it's Natasha and Scott's fault that Kara's acting crazy. And also that Natasha and Scott are totes SO UNHAPPY and GONNA BREAK UP FER SHURE and Natasha should totally blame herself for everything.


Ireaditall (#256,270)

@doggiedont *LMAO* Wait … what? Sorry there, killer. No, it's a dude sitting in Detroit where it's 30 degrees outside, snow on the ground, and two cats sleeping behind me. Come on now. Do me a favor: think before you send.

@Ireaditall For those posting the replies here that agree with the belief that somehow "Scott" was responsibly and complicit in the previous abuse, that's just wrong. This is what we call victim blaming. For some reason people cannot seem to believe that a man can be a victim in an abusive relationship. They want to believe that he somehow provoked all the abuse, or "asked for it" or encouraged it somehow. This is a really poor assumption, and culturally it seems only to be focused on males. It is much less likely today for a woman to be accused of somehow being complicit in abuse or provoking it, but that assumption still exists today for men. The worst part is that it encourages the abuser to perpetuate the abuse, and to construct excuses that agree with the poor assumptions made in their favor. Make no assumptions about abusive relationships, and don't fall into the trap of assuming that the truth always lies "somewhere in the middle" between two conflicting stories. More often than not, the truth is one story while the other is just a lie. Even if you get dragged down and you engage in the cycle, as a rule there is one person in that cycle that will continue the pattern after the relationship ends, and the other will go back to normal.

doggiedont (#256,271)

@Ireaditall Even if you aren't a Kara sockpuppet (and I still suspect that you are, especially considering "Misty"'s reported habit of creating fake Facebook profiles), then you're a dude who's projecting waaaay too much of your own relationship history onto others', and your take on the article is still creepy.


You're right. I'll stop replying, I guess I'm just purely sick of this whole ordeal and I'm wondering when she's going to drop it. Sometimes I find it amusing that she still writes about it.(Consistently) There is nothing else she could possibly come up with? Apparently. Her relationship with him will end, when it does she'll be the "crazy" one.

Hope everyone had a good Christmas!

sox (#652)

Wow. First, congratulations to Natasha for moving out of her parents' house.

Second- agree with the above comment that I expect something more from the Awl than the direct ex-trashing. I do think the topic had potential but It comes off a bit too simplistic.

JayKay92 (#256,274)

Both these girls are wacky. This article is total garbage. If this wasn't one crack pot defaming another crack pot it would be about the personal journey of the experience not tearing the other girl apart. Not to mention how often she admits to perpetuating communication this very article does that. The first thing the cops tell you is to not call, not text and not do shit like this. I'm sure the man in the middle is a real prize lol. Both of you bring shame to the female gender.

JayKay92 (#256,274)

Both these girls are wacky. This article is total garbage. If this wasn't one crack pot defaming another crack pot it would be about the personal journey of the experience not tearing the other girl apart. Not to mention how often she admits to perpetuating communication this very article does that. The first thing the cops tell you is to not call, not text and not do shit like this. I'm sure the man in the middle is a real prize lol. Both of you bring shame to the female gender.

This is kinda sad that out of all the trouble she has cause and the low things she did to you, you have ended up on her level. Your nothing better than another abuser from her past spewing your story about her on the web. Ever think about others than yourself and your problems? What if her boss reads this, or better yet someone who could have cared for her and changed her and now you have pushed them away. If I was you I'd take a hard look at the person you are with now. He did something in some way to create and fuel this rage. She was right your most likely a fat bitch too. Ha PS this is my wife's Facebook so don't rage about her too on the internet to gain some sympathy.

If you can end up on digg for this, I'm gonna right an article about fat bitches who love to eat cookies and have a disorder where they can't keep forks away from their mouths. At least the article will inspire or be helpful, you could benefit.

sox (#652)

@Catherine Williams@facebook
Um, I think you're doing a pretty good job by yourself of defaming your wife on the Internet by posting this crap through her fb account?

@sox you should see all the other crap on Facebook….. enough said

I'm almost done here so "Misty" if you end up in a crazy rage and go to her house and duct tape her fat ass to her bed and burn this bitch to the ground plz let me know asap before anyone else. I would love to cover the story and I'll even put up some donations to get you a wonderful lawyer so you'll only get 3-5 and your canteen will be covered. "Die slow bitch"!

Wow, this shit is a mess.

Throwaway Account (#256,284)

"There is no gene, that we know of, for borderline personality disorder."
That's because it's a bullshit diagnosis.

JayKay92 (#256,274)

@Throwaway Account
But the author of the article is clearly so well informed. How could someone who gets in a relationship where there significant other pits them against their ex not have superior insight and genius level knowledge?

doggiedont (#256,271)

@Throwaway Account
You know, I might have agreed with you that BPD sounded like a psychiatric-bullshit diagnosis, but after reading the comments here and comparing them to the symptoms of BPD, I'd say BPD is a spot-on assessment of this troubled young stalker (and her presumptive sockpuppets — of which, for all I know, you are one!).

So, no, I have to disagree with you. I think BPD is VERY real, and scary as fuck.

Here's hoping "Misty" gets some much-needed psychiatric help before she starts boiling innocent bunnies.

izbet (#256,332)

@doggiedont Fatal Attraction, preach. Everyone in this story is lucky they didn't end up at the hospital (and obviously no one in this story is a gun owner).

This is amazing. The amount of vitriol and madness in the above comments is beyond anything I have experienced. Someone up there (apparently no way connected to "misty", which seems doubtful) has suggested that "misty" break into the writers house and essentially kill and burn her?!! This was not before he/she called the writer a "fat ass".


Are these comments moderated at all? Who are you crazy people? Who does that? Threatening violence….in the comment section?

@Nathan Robert Esler@facebook The advent of the internet brings with it every walmart shopping McDonalds consuming piece of unintelligent garbage out their. Big question…what is it with this guy? What makes him so spectacular? -Curious in Japan.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Right about now may be time to recall the Founders call upon us all to Be Less Stupid.

Because it's hard to imagine how any part of this could me any more so.

sunnyciegos (#551)

@KarenUhOh Preach it.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

@KarenUhOh I was about to say that maybe the Awl Pals should've stopped issuing user accounts after they hit the five digits, but reminding us all to Be Less Stupid is mo' better.

ROFLOL (#256,297)

This chick is insane and is clearly posting under multiple accounts. And how is the information here bad for said nut job when her actual name or identity were not disclosed at all until she putted herself? In fact, if she wasn't everything this article claims then why was she the first or second to comment? This is hilariously terrifying. Lastly, I'd love to read the supposed other things that were written about her because I couldn't find any.

Actions over words.

doggiedont (#256,271)

And I'd like to address the whole, "don't talk about your stalker; you're enabling them" line of reasoning.

Yes, this is obviously a valid rule. But:

a) it's been well over a year and the author has elapsed TWO whole restraining order periods (!)

b) there's something to be said, journalism-wise, for sharing the first-hand experience of being a stalk-ee (or, as it were, a co-stalkee, or perhaps a peripheral stalk-ee, as it seems "Scott" is the primary focus of the Fatal Attraction here). I've certainly learned a lot from this piece; it's "servicey", as Choire might say…

c) I think the author has been exceedingly honest and forthright about the mixed, complicated feelings that arose from being confronted by someone with a mental disorder and a dangerous streak. Author hasn't sugarcoated her less-than-angelic feelings and reactions, and she's taken pains to consider — and emphasize — that the stalker is a troubled human being, with complicated feelings and longstanding and sympathetic problems, rather than paint her as a stock villain.

Note that the picture accompanying the article is of a little girl — referring to the author imagining "Misty"'s troubled childhood — rather than, say, a picture of Jennifer Jason Leigh from Single White Female, which might have been the obvious choice, if the editors weren't so sensitive.

Natasha, thanks for a brave, "servicey" piece! Very Awl-worthy indeed, and a nice surprise end-of-year present from you, Balk, Choire & Co.

@doggiedont Hey, thanks!

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

@Natasha Vargas-Cooper Thank you for writing this article. Some folks out there will mix up the facts and contentions involved but no matter what, there's a lot of real talk in it. Over ten years ago I experienced an eerily similar tale – except it was a cat instead of a dog. The way you decribed how the cops don't take female abusers/stalkers seriously, how there is no rhyme or reason to the madness, and how no amount of psychology knowledge or Gavin de Becker books will save you is SPOT ON.

@Pandemic Endemic no amount Gavin de Becker books!!

High-larious (#256,323)

This is AWESOME. Go Scott for making these girls go nuts. The blog post was very meh but the crazy comments are very entertaining. If they arent made by a bunch of trolls even better. I'm a little sick as well I guess, as the comments by the crazy chick remind me of a nasty wreck on a highway that I cant't help but to stare at. Keep on crazy on.

izbet (#256,332)

As if the article wasn't freaky enough, comments section is even more disturbing. Drama. IMHO no man is worth my dealing with deranged people crashing into my bedroom late at night. (Stand Your Ground debate, yes?)

Kyle Stevens (#256,365)

"I knew from my conversations with Scott that Misty didn’t just turn into a ghoul one day. Her sort of victimization is systematic and had to be, at some level, enabled by Scott."

This is victim blaming.

26720361@twitter (#256,375)

every party in this story is fucking terrible. you write this article to bait this woman just in time for the restraining order to expire? you must love excitement.

Lydy Nickerson (#256,509)

That's a very interesting story. It resonates very strongly for me because a friend of mine is locked in a profoundly abusive relationship. In the past 18 months, he's left her six or seven times, but he always goes back. As best anyone can tell at a distance, his wife is borderline. Her behavior is intensely reminiscent of "Misty's," and her style of discourse is very similar to Kara Ashley Pluta.

The thing I continue to try to remember is that abuse rarely makes us better people; it usually makes us worse people. And so when I get so angry at my friend for going back to his crazy wife, I try to remember that he's been damaged both by the abuse of his family of origin and the fourteen years of abuse he's had at the hands of his wife. And too often, I find myself acting in ways towards his wife that are less than kind. Her abuse of him, and her abuse of me, have made me a less kind person. I hate that about the whole situation.

mrschem (#1,757)

I still love you, NVC.

1263080005@twitter (#256,557)

Who edited this piece and allowed it to run? It's unbelievable that the writer gets away with armchair psychiatric diagnosis. Then I check her bio and see she's an accomplished journalist who should know better. The BPD bits are unethical. Not only that, but it's lazy writing.

1573293355@twitter (#256,615)

heres what: you deserve that punch in the face. on behalf of all the "psycho" ex girlfriends WHO HAVE BEEN PUSHED TO THIS, you should have stayed away. a few months into a break up from a lengthy relationship is disrespectful. back. the. fuck. off.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

As a commentor with a number pre-256k, I wanted to weigh in and say how much I enjoyed this piece.

A few years ago I was in the early stages of dating a guy who was active in his church community and through his position was informally counseling a co-parishioner. I went to a service with him once and upon seeing the two of us together she had a complete and total public meltdown which ultimately ended with him and the church taking restraining orders against her.

At first, the adrenaline rush made the story exciting to tell and she was easily cast as a crazy bitch and him as a knight in shining armor. But it was a bit more complicated than that. Although I believe him that nothing untoward ever happened between them, I think he didn't take into account her emotional state when he reached out to her and offered support.

All of this is long way to say I understand the emotions she is getting at. Ultimately I felt bad for my boyfriend's stalker. A relationship she imagined didn't materialize in the way she wanted and she couldn't cope.

sigerson (#179)

I was in a relationship with someone with a BPD diagnosis for nearly ten years. My experiences were very similar to what Natasha describes. Underneath all the emotions, the rage and the self-pity and the stalking, there is a damaged person trying to heal some childhood wound by reenacting it over and over. When you fall in love with someone like this and are committed to them, it takes a long time to cut ties and move on.

sigerson (#179)

I just wish I was there tomorrow morning when Balk or Choire sees all these comments. See what you have created? Look upon your works, ye mighty, and despair…

Let's be clear, I NEVER swung a knife at him or bit him. Really? This is laughable. I like the exaggerations, they certainly make for a great story. Anyone in their right mind who had to listen to his sister talk about her herpes infestation would've surely gone mad. Not to mention the brother who didn't shower and the mother who has never worked a day in her life. Admirable. This guy is no prize. Maybe you'll figure it out one day, or maybe I'll just secretly laugh to myself about it when you are both 45 and still living in your parents garage. You are truly a sad and pathetic woman who's clearly jealous. I'm sorry you didn't have any luck with your genetics, but you really need to stop taking your anger out on me. Life isn't fair, suck it up kiddo. The best thing that guy ever did was leave, too bad I couldn't see it at the time. I wish you many happy years of shaving his back and ass hair for him! Cheers. :)

I'm not BIPOLAR. How about we listen to a diagnosis from a trained professional and not some dimwit blogger who thinks she's a "journalist?" Tweeting about the porn industry is not really my idea of a good read. STOP writing about me you crazy lady. Eat a cookie, take a walk, do anything besides write ANOTHER bull article about me. I'm flattered. Truly!

If I was a stalker why wasn't I arrested? You clearly need to look up the definition again. There weren't two restraining orders, only one that expired over a year ago. Did you tell the people reading this article that you sent me a blank text from your boyfriends new phone during the restraining order period? I responded asking "who is this?" Natasha then proceeded to call the cops and told them I had violated the order. The judge laughed at it.

GET A LIFE! I'm done.

Wow this article was completely uncalled for. Why is she writing about something that happened 2 years ago….

Her life must be really boring!

What is happening in this comment section? I know from all the "work from home" spam that moderation isn't very strict, but somebody needs to shut this nonsense down.

1234abc (#258,290)

Kara, one of our mutual facebook friends shared this gem with me. First of all, the writer never used your name, you outed your self! You have tried to destroy the lives of several of you ex's. They are always the bad guys, right? You pulled the same crazy shit on my boyfriend,it sounds all to similar. YOU are the common denominator in the madness. Take some responsibility and more than that get help! You have a baby to take care of, focus on that and stop with the victimization. It is not you against the world.

Molly, what the? Why are you even on here? I find it ridiculous that you as well are still stalking me. An old co-worker told me how you consistently checked my facebook at work and got in trouble for it. Weird. You have no clue about my relationships. This crazy lady has continually wrote nonsense for over two years about me, so I decided to stick up for myself. I don't truly care who knows. Sorry to tell you, but your boyfriend is a loser just like this dude was. Keep lighting it up, maybe one day you all will burn out what little brain cells you have left. I'm not sure what "mutual" friend shared this with you. Whoever did is obviously not really a friend. My only fault is putting up with the bull those two idiots dragged me through. With the drinking, smoking, and lack of responsibility and education amongst you all, it's no wonder I'm having to deal with this. I can only laugh. They got what they deserved.

@ Rachel Council, I agree it is nonsense.

Whistler (#256,266)

When last I posted, I bookmarked this article, and forgot about it. I expected that when I remembered to come back and check, crazy lady would still be rage posting.

Here it is a month later, and yup, there she is. :D LULZ

As I said, I know exactly this kind of crazy. You have my sympathy NVC. While I can be amused about it now, I know how frustrating and sometimes frightening it can be to have someone like this following you around online and/or IRL. Hopefully, some years from now, she'll have moved on and you can look back and laugh about it.

@Whistler. Maybe one day your penis will be the size of your mouth you keep flapping, but I seriously doubt it. You know nothing moron.

One day I will laugh at her and said moron's obese, ugly children and thank the lord they are not mine. I will defend myself to the end! A gigantic fuck you to all is well deserved. I really can't help the fact that she's ugly. Jealousy is a horribly disease. I can't really think of any other reason why she'd carry this drama on so long, they clearly talk about me. I'm flattered.

*horrible. Keep it coming! Anyone else?

And for your info, she's been following me and randomly friend requesting me!! Psycho.

1234abc (#258,290)

kara, you are so pathetic and delusional! You keep telling yourself whatever you have to. I had to BLOCK YOU on FB because you were stalking my page and sharing my status only a few months ago, WEIRD:-) Your fucked up truth is a lie…Your a wack job. The father of you baby doesn't even want to have anything to do with you. Poor thing. Good luck explaining that. Your a terror to those around you, and that is the sad but honest TRUTH.

Haha, I would respond but at this time it's pointless. If you ladies were making millions and had successful careers I might take you seriously, but one of you lives in a garage and the other a purse salesperson? Seriously, get a life and stop focusing on mine. You know nothing. It's pathetic.

I care so much about what you think that I cried in the bathroom for an hour. LOL

1234abc (#258,290)

Silly girl, maybe u should get your facts strait regarding my education and career before you speak because u are sadly mistaken. I truely hope you get some help and find the peace and identity you have been looking for. Peace.

excusememister (#259,088)

If NVC were truly concerned for her own safety, so much that she would implement a restraining order, why then instigate contact with the woman on the eve of its expiration by publicly broadcasting a "personal essay" that is unarguably humiliating to the other party? The author of this post, as a journalist (but more accurately, an "internet personality"), clearly has more of a voice, a public outlet and an ability to be heard, than the woman she accuses of terrorizing her, and she (like many bloggers), needs to learn when not to use it. Grow up. Be responsible. (At least try to) Be better.

Yes, I can clearly see you are very well educated by your spelling and punctuation above. With autocorrect, is it really that hard to spell these days? Apparently, for you it is. Excusememister, thank you! If this bitch was so "scared," why the need to post publicly about it? I'm merely defending myself against outrageous accusations. I'm tired of it. This story is bogus and nothing but a failed attempt to get more attention for her non-existent career. Natasha, post again and I'll sue you and your boyfriends hairy ass. Try me.

1234abc (#258,290)

Seriously? Give it up. Your front is what is bogus. Must I say it again? Now 3 of your ex boyfriends have all shared the same experiences when it comes to your psychotic bullshit. Same stories, same "accusations" and you, the same crazy bitch. I kept my composure through having to see you everyday at work after knowing what you put my boyfriend/ best friend through. I even understood there are two sides to every story and that people can be irrational when emotions are high. But now it is crystal clear, you really have a problem and it's toxic. Please save yourself a response, that will be bullshit too.

1234abc (#258,290)

one last thing, last time i heard you were a Hostess living at home. Bravo.

Sarah Tate@facebook (#259,867)

Glad you took the time to spell! Bravo! I really could care less Molly, your boyfriend is a scumbag loser who never did shit except sponge off me like the other two ex's. They make no money and spend what they have left on drugs. Sounds like you and Natasha are winning. Good for you. The problem is truly you two crazy bitches who have stalked me for the past 5 years, really!? When the fuck are you going to get over it!? I only wish I had kicked these morons harder in the balls, someone had to do it.

Sarah Tate@facebook (#259,867)

I certainly know how to pick them. You even know what I do for work now?! Wow! How wonderfully pathetic of you to take the time to again research what goes on in my life. Did they also tell you I'm going back to school to be a lawyer!? Yeah, didn't think so.

Sarah Tate@facebook (#259,867)

Fuck off.

1234abc (#258,290)

LOL! Hey everyone , another Kara sock puppet! Hey Sarah;-) You are a joke, I told u to save yourself a response. Silly.

Whistler (#256,266)

Lol, she's still at it?

Not surprised.

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