Read Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear. There is a lot of great info on how to deal with stalkers in a way that motivates them to stop stalking you.
Emotions are thoughts you think with your entire body.
For example, sadness can be a knot at the pit of your stomach. It can be a heaviness sitting on your chest or crouching on your shoulders. It can be an itching at the corner of your eyes. It can be a stiffness in the back of your neck. Sometimes, for me, sadness is a brittle, cold current running back and forth in the hollow of the bones in my forearms.
Rage can feel like a sudden surge of heat. Imagine a solar flare shooting out and scrambling satellite signals. It can feel like your teeth are erupting out of your gums (as if you're turning into a snarling wolf).
If you want to understand your own emotions, the first thing you should do is listen to your body. If there's a certain activity you can perform that is guaranteed to arouse a certain emotion in you, you can try doing that and documenting your reactions. For example, playing a videogame. What happens to you when you feel anger or frustration? What about accomplishment? Do you feel hot or cold? Light or heavy? Are your muscles taut or relaxed? Is there a particular location in your body that seems to be involved?
If you want to understand emotions in general, or how they can be useful, I recommend The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Fear is a good emotion to start with.
Incidentally, the cognitive function of feeling (Fi/Fe) is not necessarily equivalent to emotion. "Feeling" is a decision-making complex that takes into consideration human physiology and psychology, and all the various emergent structures arising from that (culture, religion, etc.). Of course, if feeling is poorly-developed, it can look like the individual is simply driven by emotions (either their own, or others').
>I've also let my husband know that he and kiddo can go visit at least 50-60% of the time, and I'll be staying home, and husband is totally on board.
>I feel extremely sad and angry, and I want some space from my inlaws. At this point I have called my sister in law and let her know we are not coming to Thanksgiving this weekend. I have also blocked my MIL's number. My question is this: I have talked to some family members and some friends, and people seem to think that this is really harsh.
>How should I handle it when they realize what's happening? There have been accusations from them in the past that I just don't like them and that I'm forcing my husband to stay away. My husband lost it on them and they have never dared to go there again. That being said, I don't like them
Sending just DH over gives them a way to divide and conquer, or keep pleading their case with DH... and wearing him down. You need to be there, as much as you dislike them, or DS doesn't go. And here's why - it was YOUR motherly instinct already in play that you couldn't trust them, not your husband's. It's ok that your spidey sense was telling you there was something unlikable and untrustworthy about them - its now been proven correct. Confirmed that instinct. But you didn't have "A Reason" to withhold the child from DH's parents even though you had a sense of protective red flags that you should, so you were trying to "get along" and not listen to that sense of threat. Now you know better.
Take the accident off the table for a second (they were wrong, and showed enourmous lack of judgement as caregivers directly with him... but let's get to how they dealt with their fuck up with YOU) They tried to make it sound like he fell off a playground toy... there were multiple stories here, multiple LIES. They tried to see if you wouldn't notice his FRONT TEETH ARE BROKEN. Honey people with any kind of MORALS don't do that. They weren't sorry about what happened - they were terribly terribly sorry they would get caught and have consequences. Your motherly instinct was ALREADY telling you there was something wrong, something twisted, something untrustworthy, about these people. Now you have tangible confirmation, but the price is that your child had to pay for it. Please, read the book The Gift of Fear and have your DH read it as well. And then give them a time out for a few months where they dont' see you all.... as a TEST. See if they start love-bombing or demanding visits or acting worse and diminishing this and they can't control all the feelings they have and harass you all and they get angry and try to force their own way - see if they escalate the situation negatively. That tells you you have malicious narcissists who your child and yourselves need to be protected from even further. HOWEVER... if they understand and accept the boundary like reasonable, rational people, then you can slowly start letting them have a very limited, much lower-contact relationship with your child that will always be supervised by one of you (at least while he's too young to tell you himself what happens when he's around the in-laws).
Now, he's 2.. .those are still baby teeth, right? Not his permanent teeth. As much as this sucks, it's not a lifetime of disfigurement. But nope, it will ruin all kinds of pictures and every time you look at them it will make you angry and upset all over again. It's OK to have those feelings. But process them, see a therapist if you ahve to, but seriously, you need to genuinely get pst this --- because your son isn't jsut his front teeth, and isn't going to remember that his teeth are broken, and while you are looking at his teeth - he is looking at the expression on his mother's face as she is looking at him. Look in his eyes, let him see the face of the mommy who loves him, not angry mommy who he wont' know isn't angry at him. His teeth, imperfect as they are now, are part of him. Keep reminding yruself it's a chipped tooth, not a cracked skull, OK? That's a very good way to keep things in perspective. You're an intelligent woman, and this is a complex situation. I'm sorry you have to deal with it, but your gut instincts are dead-on accurate and you are absolutely tempering justice with mercy. Trust -but -verify is a real thing - and they have broken your trust. Your instincts haven't broken your trust.
You may be able to get a restraining order against him. The point of that would be to make it an arrestable offense for him to do anything that's prohibited in the restraining order. So for instance, if the RO says he can't talk to you or hang out in front of your house, just doing that would get him arrested (call cops, tell them you have an RO and he's violating it, and have the RO in hand to show them when they arrive).
But I'm more worried about your safety. Please read this book--it can literally be a lifesaver. Years back I knew a woman who told me it had saved her life when her violent ex was stalking her, and it also helped a friend of mine escape a violent marriage without suffering any more violence:
My time to shine!
/u/polyaphrodite is very right about physical training. It doesn't have to be krav maga. Yoga, dance, walking, whatever. The endorphins are lovely, the habitual routine is amazing, and if nothing else it's a time to listen to podcasts you want to catch up on. (YO! <points to self>)
Read The Gift of Fear . It teaches you how to be safe and that feeling really makes for a steely spine.
Ask yourself this: do you treat others the way you wish to be treated? Treat others like they are strong, capable people and it's amazing how that reflects back. Not everyone reflects it back, sure, but that's handy because that's a good way to gauge who the assholes are. ;)
You are already strong. You just don't know it yet. Lean into it and you'll see.
A book that is recommended a lot in /r/relationships in stalking cases is The Gift of Fear: https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/0440226198
I would encourage you to read it.
My advice is to tell him not to contact you again. You don't need to explain, you don't need to be nice, you don't even need to be mean, you just need to tell him in person or in digital writing that you do not want him to contact or speak to you again. Then block him. If he attempts to speak with you, simply state, I do not want to speak with you. End of story, you don't need to offer him an explanation.
Catalogue the forms of contact and bullying, then go to your school and explain the situation, they can help. And go to the police. Sending unsolicited dick pics is illegal. Throwing your against lockers is assault.
One sub you may want to post this to is /r/legaladvice, they're pretty good over there. Some may disagree but I actually think /r/relationships is a pretty good sub.
Do you have training in how to use a shield? I don't mean to sound dismissive, but it's not as cut and dry as it seems. Are you in a place where firearms are a legal option? Much easier to learn, and doesn't require you actually close with an intruder.
Before you consider what new defensive option to pursue, I think it would be more beneficial to you to determine why you don't feel safe in your home. Do you live in a bad neighborhood? Is violence a daily concern where you live? I don't need to know these answers, but it's something you should be thinking about. I'd like to recommend you a book, The Gift of Fear . Yes, I know the cover looks a little silly, and smacks of propaganda. De Becker provides an excellent framework with which to analyze your perception and determine when and where legitimate fear is appropriate, and how to follow through on those instincts.
I don't know your situation, you do. In my opinion a shield is not appropriate for home defense. Consider this: will you be able to prevent anyone from entering with a shield? Will you be able to control access to parts of your home with a shield? With a shield you have to close and have to make close contact with an intruder, and at that point you have lost valuable opportunities to control your environment.
I don't want to sound preachy, and if it comes across that way I'm sorry. I don't want you to put your faith in something that may not be the best option for you and be put into a dangerous situation. More than anything else, if you can eliminate that fear in your mind, you can probably eliminate the need for something like this.
I feel you.
One of the greatest things you can ever do for your safety is to study body language and common indications of an impending attack. People often realize something is "off" about a situation long before it goes too far but don't trust their gut. As it seems you've already realized, it's really easy to second guess yourself in the moment: "I shouldn't be so rude to assume this guy is about to attack me.... OH GOD HE'S ATTACKING ME!"
Offending an innocent person by running away from them is far preferable to allowing an attack that your instincts saw coming. I say this as someone who had a knife to my throat in 2000 because I felt guilty for assuming I was being targeted. I was correct, but I didn't have the courage to trust myself at the time. I had plenty of chance to run before it was too late but didn't want to be "rude."
Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear is great reading.
If you're legally allowed to carry pepper spray in your region, it's far better than a party popper and still not a big deal if you blast someone prematurely. I'm not dismissing the seriousness of using any weapon on the wrong person, but compared to almost anything else, pepper spray carries extremely low risk of doing anyone lasting harm.
Even if laws are very strict, the risk of carrying pepper spray may still be "worth it." You could also consider something with (arguable) plausible deniability like a coin sap. An impact weapon won't be seen as sinister to law enforcement as a blade, carries lower chance of exposing you to someone's blood, and can produce impressive results.
While your gender makes you more of a target, it also works in your favor if you do ever have to answer to police.
If you're not even comfortable with the legal/practical consequence of something like pepper spray, I'd at least opt for a more serious noise-making device than a party popper. I don't think they're really great overall, but those "personal alarms" that wail at 130db are still better than party favors.
If you are comfortable doing so, resistance based training is priceless. By this I mean BJJ, Judo, boxing, etc. Anything where your training partner is actually trying to beat you rather than some of the placebo "rape defense" classes where a padded instructor pretends like a weak kick has crippled them. Not only can these skills be used in a real environment but they will instill confidence and teach you your own limitations.
While violence is a very real concern in some regions, it's fairly hypothetical to most people. This is great for day-to-day living but also means that plenty of training/advice is based on complete guesswork and untested practices. Take everything with an appropriate helping of salt (including everything I've rambled about here) and a critical mind.
I wish you all the best and I hope you never find yourself in a situation where these concerns are applicable.