Living in Fear: "Dr. Phil Confronts My Stalker"

September 5, 2013
Amanda says she’s often paralyzed by fear, afraid to open the blinds and in a constant state of heightened anxiety and isolation in her own home — all because of the trauma she experienced for three years at the hands of her stalker, Michael. Amanda says when she met Michael at a barbecue in 2009, they exchanged email addresses and had a casual correspondence for almost a year — but then things took a strange turn. She says Michael began emailing her more than 20 times a day — oftentimes professing his love, despite them never dating — and also providing specific details about her life, indicating that he was watching her. Amanda says he would also show up at her house, and she would hide in terror, while he left gifts on her doorstep. Although Michael is currently behind bars, Amanda says he continues to harass her through anger-fueled letters mailed from jail, in violation of her protective order. When Dr. Phil confronts Michael via phone, how does he explain his actions? And, Michael’s father, Charles, weighs in. How can he get his son help while he’s incarcerated?







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AmandaCharles, Michael's fatherDr. Phil, on the phone with Michael

A Nightmare That Won’t End

Amanda explains how a brief meeting changed her life.
 

“Even behind bars, Mike continues to stalk me.”

“Michael has written 31 letters from jail,” Amanda explains. “These are all in violation of the protective order. He’s written letters to my brother, to my brother’s friends, to the police department, to the clerk of courts, to the commonwealth attorney — but the content of the letter is addressed to me. Even though Mike is in jail, my heart rate stays elevated. If I hear anything outside, I constantly have to go check — constant in my head, I can’t get away from the thoughts. In Mike’s letters, the tone has turned very angry toward me. He thinks that I put him there. I’m fearful of what he will do upon his release. I’m most afraid of a sexual assault ... I’m scared for my son, because that would ultimately hurt me the worst. I have to think about what is the worst possible thing he could do to me, and that’s kill me.”

Amanda tells Dr. Phil that she never went on a date with Michael, and they never had sex, despite his claims to the contrary. She says his letters are delusional, and her anxiety and fear won't go away, even though Michael is behind bars. Dr. Phil tells her, “If it helps to hear this, I totally understand.”

Michael’s father, Charles, explains how his son’s troubling behavior began at an early age.

Charles says he’s tried to get his son help his whole life. He’s seen several psychologists. He admits his son could be dangerous and says he belongs in jail at this point.

Dr. Phil points out that Michael recently got five years added to his original two-year sentence for stalking Amanda from behind bars. “He apparently has no impulse control or ability to respect authority,” he says.

“That’s absolutely correct,” Charles says.

Dr. Phil speaks to Michael from jail. Does he think he’s done anything wrong?

Dr. Phil asks Michael about his previous stalking charges. Does Michael see a pattern in his behavior? And is he remorseful?

Dr. Phil tells Amanda that Michael will join the show via phone live from jail, and she will go backstage to avoid any interaction, per her protective order. “Is there anything in particular you want me to say to him or you want me to ask him?”

“What does he want from me, besides to clear up a lie that never happened?” Amanda asks.

“Is it fair to say that if he continues to talk to you, you will continue to prosecute?” Dr. Phil asks.

“I will file every letter. I will not stop,” she says.


Live From Jail

Michael joins the discussion and immediately accuses Amanda of lying.
 
Dr. Phil tells Michael that every time he tries to contact Amanda from jail, she is going to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. “Do you believe that’s a lie?”

“No. I would imagine she’d do that because I was very mean,” he says. Michael explains that he and Amanda had sex. Dr. Phil interrupts him.

“It does not matter what that relationship was. Once she tells you, ‘Stop. Leave me alone,’ you have to stop and leave her alone.”

Dr. Phil points out to Michael that the day after his sentence was increased to five years, he wrote Amanda another letter.

“I don’t care,” he says. “I asked her to tell the truth.”

When Michael again brings up sex with Amanda, Dr. Phil interrupts him. “The judge never asked her about sex. You were not charged with sexual assault. There was nothing in the record about rape charges. You simply were not paying attention. She has a question for you. She wants to know what you want from her.”

“I don’t want anything from her. I want out of jail," he says.

“She wants to know what you want from her,” Dr. Phil repeats.

“The truth! Go into a court of law and tell the truth,” Michael says.
 

Dr. Phil reads from Michael’s latest letter to Amanda. And, see the surprising end to their phone call.

Amanda rejoins Dr. Phil onstage. He tells her that his conversation with Michael demonstrates how she’s been dealing with someone who is very intense and that she has good reason to be concerned.
 
Dr. Phil tells her that although he hasn’t evaluated her and done a proper workup to diagnose her, he doesn’t believe that she’s suffering from PTSD. “I do think you are experiencing some very high anxiety, both acute and chronic, that is very debilitating for you. That is treatable,” he says. He offers her professional help to diagnose and deal with her anxiety.

Dr. Phil tells Charles that his son needs to be evaluated, and the state does have those resources. He suggests Charles petition the court and insist on getting treatment for Michael while he’s still in jail.

Are you a victim of stalking? Know the warning signs.