there's a stalker book?
May 10, 2006 11:19 AM   Subscribe

what can i do to get this person to stop harassing me?

there are a couple other harassment/stalker posts with good responses, but this situation is like no other:

MG SAGA
i was running around like a hussy with a married guy [mg] for about two weeks... it was very casual, he made claims that he was going to get divorced at the end of the month (as soon as his inlaws left town) so we met up two or three times and ran into each other on the running course. it wasn't about love and he wasn't leaving her for me, we were just enjoying each other's company.

then out of nowhere he got an anonymous email saying that we've been seen together around town and they want him to call it off, otherwise they're going to tell his wife. he decided he was going to lay low until after they've separated and it wasn't much of a big deal. i assume that since we said "fine" and no one really cared and went on with our lives, the anonymous emailer still wanted to dirty their hands and went ahead and told his wife anyway. shit hit the fan, etboringc.

from there, the person kept emailing me. they knew that [mg] came over one night to talk to me, they knew when he emailed me, they knew about phone calls and basically every last detail. it was truly bizarre. i thought they might be getting the information from my online journal (which is accessible to registered users only) - but the ip addresses were all for cities at least 100 miles from here. and i'd i emailed them a link (hoping they were foolish enough to click on it) and their ip address came back as this city. that seemed like proof enough that they were here physically following me/us, instead of getting the information from my journal.

further to that! they were making claims in the emails that if i don't stay away from him, there will be serious repercussions: i will lose my job, my name will be ruined in this town, and i'll probably lose my housing. then they offered a payout where if i'm a "good girl" they'll email me later in the year with an offer to help pay for my education.

initially i thought it was [mg]'s wife, but we've had many a telephone and email conversation trying to figure out who the anonymous emailer is and she even went to the extent of hiring a private detective who was worthless and only looked at the email headers to find the ip address, which we already had. so she's not a suspect.

all of that happened a month ago and i thought the drama had officially died down since i hadn't heard anything in some time, until.......

THE SCHOOL NARK

i went on a few dates with my art teacher, things went well, and he took up calling me his "girlfriend." i wrote the stories about it in my online journal and didn't see any harm coming for a million miles. we're both adults (i'm 22, he's older) and we weren't causing anyone any trouble, so i thought it was ok to tell what is going on. i'm not ashamed.

and then last week someone emailed the chair of the art dept saying that he has taken up dating "a younger student" and is discriminating against other students because of it. he got talked to and they basically just asked if we're kissing/touching on each other in the class, we weren't, and there was no further issue. at first i assumed it was someone in class who really felt that they were being neglected and felt badly....

until the very last straw - this week, there were excerpts taken from my journal, wrapped up in a different context and then emailed to the VICE PRESIDENT of my school. i don't know what they were trying to get out of it, but who goes around sending journal entries to school presidents? psycho!

anyway, yet again he was taken in, told what was in the email and that i need to watch what i'm saying in public places. everyone agrees that the person is acting maliciously or out of jealousy, and not just trying to get extra help in class as they originally claimed. he's not in any trouble and everyone is saying "whatever" since there is only one week of school left anyway.

however - now i'm just a little concerned that since every attempt to "destroy me" is foiled, they might step it up a notch and start trying harder. i don't know who it is, i don't know whether it's the same person (but the coincidence is just too uncanny), they aren't calling to "harass me" or any of the other definite signals to get police involved. and with it all being anonymous i don't know much they could do at this point anyway.

wtf are my options?! i'm going insane right now.
posted by kooop to Law & Government (84 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ok, that's a weird story. I wish I had some advice. But I only have one technical correction: geographic IP identifiers often gets things wrong, the most significant being that almost all AOL users get identified as being in Virginia, where AOL HQ is located. Please don't put too much weight on where the reverse IP address lookup tool says the requests came from - it's not much better than a guess. Plus anonymizing proxies, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 11:27 AM on May 10, 2006


Sounds like one of your "friends" on LJ is a psycho dickwad or someone knows your login info.

Change your password and start weeding your friends list immediately.
posted by schroedinger at 11:27 AM on May 10, 2006


It's almost certainly someone you know, and unfortunately probably someone you consider a friend (either on LJ or in real life). How many of your friends know all these details? Of those, which ones have you had an emotional arguement with at some point, even one that you think was totally resolved? Of those, which ones would hold a grudge?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:29 AM on May 10, 2006


You could always do what a semi-royal family did in the UK a few years ago; they seeded a variety of plausible but false stories about themselves with "friends" to see who was selling their stories to the press.

The false story itself was front page tabloid stuff; the "we lied to figure out who was taking advantage of us" story was front page news everywhere.

Of course, if you are telling all your secrets to a group of people on a semi-public forum, this could be challenging.
posted by lowlife at 11:36 AM on May 10, 2006


Putting myself in your shoes, I'd stop posting immediately. No reason to fan the flames if LJ is the source of the problem. Wait for things to die down before you feel a need to share with the world.

You say that none of the "definite signals to get the police involved" are there but in my non-legal opinion, it seems this person has made themselves quite a nuisance and disrupted your life. Have you looked into police involvement?

Based on the anonymity of the person and the escalation of previous threats, you have every right to be afraid and/or cautious. I'd think police involvement may help stem some of that.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:36 AM on May 10, 2006


Huh?

initially i thought it was [mg]'s wife, but we've had many a telephone and email conversation trying to figure out who the anonymous emailer is and she even went to the extent of hiring a private detective who was worthless and only looked at the email headers to find the ip address, which we already had. so she's not a suspect.

The wife of the guy you were cheating with is helping you with this? Am I wrong here?
posted by agregoli at 11:37 AM on May 10, 2006


It's a little unclear from your story -- does this person know any details that you haven't published in your journal?
posted by sad_otter at 11:37 AM on May 10, 2006


I would do a little digging on the emails. Unless they really know what they are doing, they should leave some obvious trails like IP addresses that the emails originated from. If it's a cable or DSL line (or even most dialups) you can often figure out the city and state they emailed that item from. Having that can help narrow down the list of possible people.

Good luck, I've been in your shoes before (crazy person trying to get me fired and everyone I know fired) and it totally and utterly sucks. About your only option is to bring formal charges of harrassment against the person, if you ever can positively ID them and prove they were doing it, and still then it can be a he said/she said thing with cops and judges.
posted by mathowie at 11:38 AM on May 10, 2006


A small test may be to plant a false "juicy" story on your journal, and don't talk about it anywhere else, if you start getting the same shit you know where it came from.

alternatively you could stop posting to your journal.
posted by edgeways at 11:38 AM on May 10, 2006


On the advice tip, a first step would be to stop posting things about your life in your journal online.
posted by agregoli at 11:38 AM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Does LJ let you have multiple groups of friends and make some entries visible to one group and not the other? If so, you could conduct a counter-intelligence operation.
posted by Good Brain at 11:41 AM on May 10, 2006


Shut down access to your LJ. One of your friends isn't a friend, and it may be impossible for you to figure out who.

(Anyone who goes to this level of trouble is not going to be acting weird around you. And based on the plot of...every mystery ever...it's never who you expect, right?)
posted by desuetude at 11:42 AM on May 10, 2006


It is clear to me that you should declare yourself in a state of seige and start thinking about all your routine activities from the standpoint that someone is trying to harm you. By this I mean: remove your live-journal and all personal pages from the internet. Change your email address(es) and distribute them only to the smallest, most select of groups that you actually need two-way communication with. Change all remaining passwords on any and all accounts you have.
I am stunned that you are posting potentially compromising personal details on the internet even after it has been demonstrated that someone wants to use that information to harm you. If you have not done so already, take the page down now. It's unfortunate to have to concede something to a b@stard like that, but why hand your enemies ammunition they have made clear they'll happily use against you?
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:45 AM on May 10, 2006


Kill your current online journals and profiles, if possible. This might mean deleting all people marked as "friends" and changing your password then cautiously re-adding them, or it might mean getting new accounts. Stop posting details online that could be in some way incriminating or taken the wrong way. If anyone confronts you with an excerpt that has been extracted out of context, deny writing it.

You've taken up with two people in relationships that are reasonably controversial given their position. Do you have a pattern of doing so in the past, and could it be one of these people attempting to spite you? Do you have any friends who are friends with past acquaintances who might wish you harm? That would be the primary suspect for providing information.

The most I can really suggest is to be honest in your dealings and possibly post something about that on whatever online profiles you have. If you just want to live your life, then do so by avoiding anything that could cause others to accuse you of impropriety. Eventually their ability to harass you will decrease, and if you're around the right people they won't care about whatever petty jerk is attempting to bother you.
posted by mikeh at 11:49 AM on May 10, 2006


Tell me I've watched too much Law & Order, but have you considered that perhaps the cause of all this trouble is the MG himself?

Also, have you considered consulting a lawyer about this? It might be helpful to know what the law says about this situation.

In general, I'd say that you should focus on discretion and protecting your identity. Your profile here includes links that are pretty much a garden path to who you are and what you do. Its unfortunate, but information like this is so easy to exploit.
posted by missmobtown at 11:51 AM on May 10, 2006


It seems possible that there's a psycho physically monitoring the OP. Which means that in addition to planting false stories in the online journal, she also needs to do something that would get Mr Psycho's attention in public and not write about it (I've found that skinnydipping in a fountain works). That would help narrow down what's going on.
posted by adamrice at 11:54 AM on May 10, 2006


Tell me I've watched too much Law & Order, but have you considered that perhaps the cause of all this trouble is the MG himself?

That was my first thought, as well. It's almost certainly someone you feel positive it isn't, so there's really no reason to rule him out — and yes, I did read the part about the anonymous email revealing your affair to his wife.

Regardless, I agree with shutting down your blog. Given your current situation, publishing your diary online is a luxury you can ill afford. Beyond that, I suppose the only advice I can offer is that just because one private detective was incompetent doesn't mean you can't find one who is qualified.
posted by cribcage at 12:02 PM on May 10, 2006


Seconding missmobtown, my gut response to reading this was that it's the MG. Is this a possibility?

Otherwise, if you feel someone is monitoring your offline behavior (knowing when you make phone calls), I would think it could be a neighbor or a freaky landlord.
posted by Sully6 at 12:05 PM on May 10, 2006


Tell me I've watched too much Law & Order, but have you considered that perhaps the cause of all this trouble is the MG himself?

I thought the same thing. Maybe he's the sicko and enjoys setting up these scenarios and manipulating people...

Also, if whomever is causing this trouble knows you go by kooop, you may want to hide the flickr account and any other places where you use that handle.

Just a thought.
posted by jerseygirl at 12:09 PM on May 10, 2006


Find someone with hacker skills & get them to take the Internet tracing further than you can. You might also consider the possibility that your home PC has been compromised & take defensive measures to secure/scrub it.
posted by scalefree at 12:13 PM on May 10, 2006


Yeah, MG is the most likely suspect. The whole "I'm leaving my wife once my inlaws leave town" thing is a classic big of manipulation.

You really do need to take serious stock of how this information is getting out. My assumption was that the details that are being used against you is all stuff you've published to your semi-private journal, but are there details that would only be available to either a participant in the acts in question (the most likely explanation) or someone who is in the habit of physically observing you without your knowledge (possible, but less likely)?

You also need to consider how you are living your life. Stop posting to your journal, unless its BS that you are concocting to root out the creep. Question whether you have to share intimate details with such a large group, and whether the things you do that need to be kept secret really things you want to be doing.
posted by Good Brain at 12:16 PM on May 10, 2006


Is there any chance [mg] is a little screwy and has been doing this himself? It'd give him a perfect excuse to break things off with you if he felt they were getting too serious, plus it's not unheard of for a former lover (even a brief fling) to be jealous when you take up with a new one.
posted by willpie at 12:21 PM on May 10, 2006


Has he divorced his wife yet?
posted by iconomy at 12:22 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm still for real boggled that the wife of the man you who was cheating on her was openly helping you try to find someone who was slandering you - does that make a lick of sense to anyone? I would suspect her most of all.
posted by agregoli at 12:29 PM on May 10, 2006


For the love of Christ, stay away from MG and his wife, shut down your journal, and stay away from posting the details of your life on the internet for at least a year. Problem solved.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:36 PM on May 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


I still think it's him. Weird feeling about it. Hey, maybe it's a husband/wife manipulation team. You never know how people get their jollies nowadays.

I still think the best course of action is shutting down, entirely, online. Change usernames if you can, disable websites, set your entire LJ to Private. No friends, nothing. If the LJ is feeding your stalker, they'll likely ask what happened to your journal. Do not detail anything of your life at all for a while (online or in emails, etc) and see what happens.

And stop talking to that married guy or his wife. Screen calls to avoid them. She could be using "helping you" as a guise to get more info. Plus, why is she helping you? That's suspect in itself.

The other thing I'm curious about, and maybe this is a stupid question but... you're not using an open WiFi network are you? And maybe I'm being paranoid a little, but just for good measure, do a deep scan on your machine for spyware/viruses/etc?
posted by jerseygirl at 12:38 PM on May 10, 2006


Oh, and firewall too?
posted by jerseygirl at 12:39 PM on May 10, 2006


I'm going to have to chime in with Chyme here. Someone repeatedly taking your journal entries and making them public has a fairly obvious solution. Stop posting them.

It's possible it's someone just being an awesome Internet comedian.

Also, it's "narc".
posted by ODiV at 12:48 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Your school doesn't have a problem with a teacher dating a student? This strikes me as ridiculous if not impossible.

MG occured to me as the culprit, first, too.
posted by dobbs at 12:52 PM on May 10, 2006


For the love of Christ, stay away from MG and his wife, shut down your journal, and stay away from posting the details of your life on the internet for at least a year. Problem solved.

Wow, Optimus Chyme just summed up in one sentence the elaborate multi-paragraph post I was drafting.

The only thing I would add is to decide to be equally discreet about broadcasting the details of your life offline, too. So if you're in the habit of gabbing to lots of people about your love live, stop it. (And not because you should feel ashamed about it. Just because it's the smarter thing to do.) Having a few confidantes is fine if that's important to you, but know that not everyone is suitable to be your confidante. I learned that the hard way, too, in my early 20s (back when all we knew about the intarweb was a primitive version of AOL that we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow to use, etc.).
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on May 10, 2006


I'm still for real boggled that the wife of the man you who was cheating on her was openly helping you try to find someone who was slandering you

Except that the anonymous email was sent to the wife, right? If someone sent me such a letter, I'd want to find out who it was, also.

In addition, I hardly think telling someone the truth about what someone is doing qualifies as slander.
posted by dobbs at 12:56 PM on May 10, 2006


Also, get your real name (if in fact it is your real name) out of your MeFi profile. I think that having it there is a magnet for the cloak of menace that seems to be following you.
posted by dobbs at 12:59 PM on May 10, 2006


1)Stop sleeping with married men. That's just asking for trouble right there. Gah.

2)Drop off the internet for a while. Yes, it's hard, but probably the safest option. Delete your blogs. Change your email addresses and only give them out to people you trust. Change screen names. Take your real name offline wherever you can.

3)Avoid [MG] and his wife.. friends.. etc.

4)Find yourself a better private investigator. Sounds like "she" hired one who came up empty. Look into it yourself.
posted by drstein at 12:59 PM on May 10, 2006


In addition, I hardly think telling someone the truth about what someone is doing qualifies as slander.

Hmm, we'll have to disagree. At the very least, it's hurtful and not anyone's place to do, especially anoymously.

I still don't see why the wife would want to help the person who was her husband's mistress. Why would she even speak with you?
posted by agregoli at 1:11 PM on May 10, 2006


For the love of Christ, stay away from MG and his wife, shut down your journal, and stay away from posting the details of your life on the internet for at least a year. - Optimus Chyme

Solid advice.

I was going to elborate further, but really there's nothing else to say. I'm sorry you got into this crappy situation, but there's a door out, and OC summarized it nicely. Stop. Back away. Full stop.
posted by raedyn at 1:13 PM on May 10, 2006


Protip: Stop sleeping with married men. Protip 2: Stop acting like a victim. Protip 3: Smile, someone finds your life to be of interest. For some reason...
posted by rob paxon at 1:14 PM on May 10, 2006


I hardly think telling someone the truth about what someone is doing qualifies as slander. - dobbs

Hmm, we'll have to disagree. At the very least, it's hurtful and not anyone's place to do, especially anoymously. - agregoli

While it may be none of their business, and it's obviously hurtful, it's only slander if it's not true.
posted by raedyn at 1:17 PM on May 10, 2006


Great, thanks.

What is it called when such a thing is broadcast to someone's place of work? I guess the word to use would be harassment.
posted by agregoli at 1:19 PM on May 10, 2006


Your school doesn't have a problem with a teacher dating a student? This strikes me as ridiculous if not impossible.

Neither of the two universities I attended had a problem with it (not that I personally would have been affected if they had, but I knew of such relationships going on pretty much out in the open). I think that, on American campuses anyway, it's pretty common for faculty and students to get involved, and rarely is the policy more strict than 'it's frowned upon' or even 'it's ok as long as the student is not currently taking a class from the teacher.' Of course, in the latter case, the OP would have a problem, but I find it just as easy to believe that there isn't one.
posted by bingo at 1:23 PM on May 10, 2006


wtf are my options?! i'm going insane right now.

I would be too if I were in your shoes, so don't feel bad, this is definitely a highly abnormal situation. The best advice may be to take down your web journals for now, but if this sort of thing continues...

I would get a competent PI if you have the money, or if I had a friend who knew a thing or two about Internet security, use him. I would also file a police report. What you have told us so far qualifies as harassment, and may fall under special stalking laws in your area. If you have any divorce attorney friends, these guys know most of the tricks in the book, and might be able to help you out.

If you suspect you are being followed around in public, this can be easily tested by agreeing ahead of time with one or more really trusted friends on a route, and having them follow you from a great distance. Somebody following you will look fairly obvious to your discreetly watching friend.

I'm agreeing with everybody else here that this is (a) somebody you know and (b) being done over the Internet. Outing an anonymous Internet stalker sounds extremely difficult, my recommendation is to go through the authorities and keep digging on that IP address.
posted by onalark at 1:24 PM on May 10, 2006


To be fair, a lot of people posting before me said the same thing, and in addition had solid theories about who the person or persons might be.

I will add this: when you're involved in bullshit drama, just walk away. Don't call them, email them, hang out with mutual acquaintances, or anything where you're only a degree or two of separation from them. Screen your calls. Watch a lot of TV. Go out of town for a couple weeks. Stalkers get bored too.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:24 PM on May 10, 2006


This may sound utterly insane (if you'll pardon the pun), but do you have a history of psychological problems? Apologies if this seems out of line, but I've dealt with people who are acting out paranoid psychoses, and something about this story rubs me the wrong way.
posted by mkultra at 1:25 PM on May 10, 2006


Saying it isn't anyone's place is a bit off. How wrong this is, IMO, would depend on precisely what this stalking consists of. Following her around cloak and dagger sure ain't right, but paraphrasing her online jibber jabber is another matter entirely

As far as being "hurtful", well, I'd have to submit that any harm done is harm done by herself.

Obsessively documenting and broadcasting the sordid details of a person's life in this case sure seems like a low and pathetic thing to do. Then again, it keeps mouths fed at E! and VH1. People obsessively document and broadcast the sordid details of their own lives and that's the worst of all.
posted by rob paxon at 1:26 PM on May 10, 2006


posted by rob paxon: Protip: Stop sleeping with married men. Protip 2: Stop acting like a victim. Protip 3: Smile, someone finds your life to be of interest. For some reason...

I think #1 is obvious, but as for the rest, WTF?
posted by desuetude at 1:30 PM on May 10, 2006


What is it called when such a thing is broadcast to someone's place of work? I guess the word to use would be harassment.
posted by agregoli


Perhaps, but I highly doubt this is enough for a harassment case. If you truly are concerned it wouldn't hurt to ask a lawyer about what could be done should you find out who it is (the lawyer could even potentially help with that by hooking you up with a competent PI). You'd probably be best off to stop feeding the fire, though, and this post is a bad start.
posted by rob paxon at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2006


I think that, on American campuses anyway, it's pretty common for faculty and students to get involved, and rarely is the policy more strict than 'it's frowned upon' or even 'it's ok as long as the student is not currently taking a class from the teacher.'

Incorrect. "It seems that more and more institutions are developing such policies in the hopes of avoiding having to deal with the issue when there's no policy in place," says Donna Euben of the American Association of University Professors. (Whether or not the policies are effective, ethical, etc. is wholly beside the point for the purposes of this thread, so I am not trying to open up a broader discussion, just pointing out that the trend on U.S. campuses is actually towards developing stricter policies than "it's frowned upon" or "wait till the class is over.") [/minor derail]

posted by scody at 1:36 PM on May 10, 2006


What is it called when such a thing is broadcast to someone's place of work? I guess the word to use would be harassment. - agregoli

Sounds right to me. IANAL.
posted by raedyn at 1:43 PM on May 10, 2006


rob's right -- posting a question like this that's easily searchable tends to add fuel to the fire. I would imagine that whoever is responsible has a good idea of your online activities and it doesn't take much googling to find out that you've been on ask.me. You may be accidentally creating more drama.
posted by mikeh at 1:43 PM on May 10, 2006


I think #1 is obvious, but as for the rest, WTF?
posted by desuetude


It's a bitch ain't it, but that's how I see it. This whole episode has a bad smell and it's coming from her direction. She set herself up and now woe is her. If you do something and go out of your way to explain how it wasn't really wrong, you're fully aware that you did something wrong. Well, like I said, that's just a bitch. I say this fully believing there is no one standing in her shadow. Essentially, this boils down to "beware of the internets" or more generally, watch what you do in public and keep it to yourself.
posted by rob paxon at 1:45 PM on May 10, 2006


rob paxon - never said it should be a harassment case. Your analysis of my comments is getting pretty heavy-handed.
posted by agregoli at 1:47 PM on May 10, 2006


scody: The fact that an advocate of no-dating rules says 'It seems that more and more institutions are developing such policies,' does not mean that there really is such a trend, and even if there is, it's not at all clear what the scale is; 'more and more' might mean one per year, or one per decade.
posted by bingo at 1:49 PM on May 10, 2006


No-dating policies were in place in the (Canadian) universities I attended/worked at even a decade ago. It was a firing offence, almost no questions asked. It was so strict that professors would leave their doors open and/or ask an additional student to be present when seeing opposed-sex students during office hours.

Just another of those invisible abysses at the boarder, I guess.
posted by bonehead at 1:57 PM on May 10, 2006


I said that it could be a harassment case, so rob paxon may be taking issue with my statements. However I'd like to note this:

"As far as being "hurtful", well, I'd have to submit that any harm done is harm done by herself.

Obsessively documenting and broadcasting the sordid details of a person's life in this case sure seems like a low and pathetic thing to do. Then again, it keeps mouths fed at E! and VH1. People obsessively document and broadcast the sordid details of their own lives and that's the worst of all."


You raise an interesting point. Leaving aside the threatening anonymous emails (the part about paying for her education if she's a good girl screams harassment to me), she does make it harder to make any sort of privacy complaint, since as far as we know here all the information that the stalker is using is accessible to the general public if they know her website.
posted by onalark at 1:59 PM on May 10, 2006


Seems you got two choices:

1. Stop posting information on the web and walk away;
or
2. Start posting misinformation on the web in attempt to narrow down who is doing what.

Also, IP headers and server logs are rendered useless with things like TOR and other anonymizing services.
posted by maxpower at 2:01 PM on May 10, 2006


I'd assume they're reading this thread as well.
posted by Shutter at 2:03 PM on May 10, 2006


rob paxon - never said it should be a harassment case. Your analysis of my comments is getting pretty heavy-handed.
posted by agregoli


Heavy-handed? Half-hearted is far more apt, and I'd agree completely.

I suppose I don't get the point of the question about harassment if not to consider the possibility of that being an option. Perhaps the explanation lies in a previous comment, in which case I will remain forever ignorant.

I'm not sure if the work scenario itself would qualify as harassment. It would have to depend on the leniency involved, but considering statements of fact without some serious aggravating conditions (are we assuming here that someone is stalking a coworker outside of work and then making his/her findings public in work?) as harassment would be an overly sensitive policy IMO. For that very reason, though, I'd find it wholly believable because such policies often are ... well, heavy-handed.

All of which brings us to what exactly?
posted by rob paxon at 2:03 PM on May 10, 2006


Nevermind. You simply were reading far more into both of my comments than necessary - and now reading ever deeper into the third that I'm afraid you'll never get back out. Forget it.
posted by agregoli at 2:05 PM on May 10, 2006


If the entire point of your harassment at work question was to achieve the answer that you gave yourself in the same sentence, then sorry, that ranks among the most useless queries I've come across. Many pardons for assuming there was some actual point to it, but perhaps I misread because I'm quite burned out at the moment.

Back to the actual topic, if you want real advice you should ask a real lawyer. Posting this thread on the internet just goes to show how much you're contributing to matter to begin with.

I'm not sure how serious you believe someone is physically stalking you and could potentially turn towards more aggressive behavior. From what is presented I find that scenario to be highly doubtful. If it is the case, though, you need to get off the internet and take actual recourse because it could become a dangerous situation.

I'm not trying to pile on but this all seems completely ridiculous to me and a bit humorous, I almost hate to say. If there really is a creep around the corner of your every step I'm sorry and truly hope you are able to sort the situation out before it becomes worse. It seems more to me like someone is having a lark at your expense.
posted by rob paxon at 2:20 PM on May 10, 2006


If the entire point of your harassment at work question was to achieve the answer that you gave yourself in the same sentence, then sorry, that ranks among the most useless queries I've come across. Many pardons for assuming there was some actual point to it, but perhaps I misread because I'm quite burned out at the moment.



Wow, you really are. Not sure what I did to you to get such a dickish response in return, but I hope you get some rest soon!
posted by agregoli at 2:23 PM on May 10, 2006


Also, ditch your MySpace account and other websites with your MeFi user name on them and have this thread deleted. 'Kooop' is a little distict and makes it really easy to identify you in real life. You probably don't want the details of this question to be public.
posted by Alison at 2:30 PM on May 10, 2006


Well what do you want me to say? If I read into it mistakenly it was out of the assumption that there was a point to it.

Also, if what you say is accurate regarding the threats about grades or what have you in e-mail, you could try your luck bringing the matter to the police as it would seem like a pretty obvious case of blackmail to me whether the culprit is serious or not. The police may not be able to do dick about it and they may not even take it seriously, but if this is something you're really concerned over it is worth the shot. The point is, do something that doesn't involve venting on the internet through the veil of sought advice (sorry if this is harsh or incorrect, but I'm on a roll with my assumptive behavior right now ).

The dickish response comes from my tendency to often be a dick. But I'm an honest dick and there's no ill will behind it. Something about this just makes me feel like it is better suited for LiveJournal. Perhaps I'm seriously underrating the seriousness of the situation in my assumption that you're seriously overrating it. Ah well. The best possible advice anyone can or will give in this thread, aside from the obvious of not doing things that you should have cause to worry about being discovered or at the very least don't talk about them on the internet, is to seek real advice elsewhere. Bring it to a lawyer or a cop.

Best of luck and toodles.
posted by rob paxon at 2:40 PM on May 10, 2006


Okay, just from your MeFi profile and its links, I know your name, where you live, where you're studying, that you probably have a cat, and I know exactly what you look like.

Stop posting your life online. It doesn't matter if you think you should be able to detail every minutia on the web, people can and have used this information to harass you, and you are serving them on a silver platter! If this has been going on for months, why haven't you taken steps to scrub your personal info off the web?

Either you like the drama or are being very naive.
posted by lychee at 2:47 PM on May 10, 2006 [5 favorites]


Check out the comment on this picture in the OP's flickr account. Creepy, indeed.
posted by chiababe at 2:57 PM on May 10, 2006


The fact that an advocate of no-dating rules says 'It seems that more and more institutions are developing such policies,' does not mean that there really is such a trend, and even if there is, it's not at all clear what the scale is; 'more and more' might mean one per year, or one per decade.

Well, in just a few cursory google searches I've found references to policies regulating and/or banning student-teacher relationships going into effect in the past decade (and most in the past 3-5 years) at the University of Iowa, Stanford, Yale, Ohio Wesleyan, the College of William and Mary, the University of California, the University of Arizona, Washington University, Idaho State, Kenyon College, and Dartmouth. I'm sure I could find more if I kept looking.

This is of course not to say that all U.S. universities have such policies (and kooop may very well attend a school that doesn't have one); according to the Christian Science Monitor, "The majority of universities may have no official policy at all, but more are moving from vague statements 'discouraging' faculty-student relationships to specific bans." Exact statistics elude me (and the CSM, apparently), but unless you think the CSM has an axe to grind, too, it appears factual to state that it is becoming more common for universities to adopt some form of an official student-faculty dating policy beyond just unofficially "frowning upon it." You may not have experienced said policies personally, and you may not like them (I have a lot of objections to them, myself), but that hair's going to get too fine to split if you want to keep insisting that such policies aren't really on at least a modest rise.

posted by scody at 3:00 PM on May 10, 2006


You have a name in your profile, and several pages linked, with photos and personal details. If you are concerned about your safety, get everything personal off the web. A commercial site for your work may be necessary, but personal stuff and photos should not be on the web.

Get someone to check your pc for trojans. Use Spybot, adaware and hijackthis, plus a good antivirus app. Long shot, but it's nice to have a clean pc anyway. Using a pc at a library or at school, change all of your passwords, and don't give them out. Someone I know reads her bf's email, cause he let the computer store it. The experience has not made her happier.

Create list of interesting details and feed them to mg. If they loop back to you, then you have an answer.

Assume the stalker is reading this read. On the web and in the rest of your life, be circumspect about your personal life for a while.
posted by theora55 at 3:08 PM on May 10, 2006


Get someone to check your pc for trojans.

My thought exactly.
posted by LarryC at 3:46 PM on May 10, 2006


Sorry but you don't seem willing to take any action at all and you seem to underestimate greatly the amount of personal data you should be sharing online.

I am a very active online person and am in the IT industry yet if you Google me you will come up with nothing, no matches, this is because I take pains to keep it that way, no blogs, no wide open computers, no pictures on flickr, never ever ever using my real name online. You really need to start thinking about the same.

Personally I think it's MG too but it doesnt matter, when you put out as much info as you are (including this post!) it's only so much time before some nutjob sees it and takes advantage.

If I were you I would be a whole lot more concerned than you seem to be, and if it were me the following steps would start:

1. Shut down your blog immediately and permanently.

2. Change email to something unrelated.

3. Change cell phone number and carrier.

4. Cancel credit cards and get new ones.

5. Get rid of any pictures of yourself or your life that appear anywhere online.

6. Move, seriously I would consider it, this person is acting incredibly oddly and right now has all the power.

7. Format your computer and have a seriously savy friend set it up again for you.

8. Hire a PI who deals in IT and ID theft, it will cost you but it's worth it.

9. Change every password you can think of.
posted by Cosine at 3:59 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: 1) the journal is completely private now, save one entry that says "adios." that was the first thing i did. i might be foolish for having details of my goings-on on the internet, but i'm not idiotic enough to leave them there when shit escalates to these proportions.

2) mg is separated from his wife now and lives in his own place. he did what he said he was going to do, but i still think he's a little shady. his wife called me very upset and hostile, but we got to talking and realized that there is a third party who is fucking with all of us, and we decided to team up instead of fight each other. it sounds strange, but it happened nonetheless.

3) i'm hardly playing the victim. i write down things that have happened in my life because i'm creating these moments and consider them mine enough to share as a "story" online. but! for some reason, someone has decided to use my story against me. i have been laughing about it up to this point, thinking how neat i must be for other people to want to interfere this much, but going to the officials at my school is a little too far for even me.
posted by kooop at 4:00 PM on May 10, 2006


Stop putting details of your love life on the web. That's the only bit of useful advice I have, and one that's real easy to follow.
posted by Decani at 4:05 PM on May 10, 2006


In regards to this person's flickr account (mentioned above), you can always report abuse to Flickr in regards to it. (It doesn't solve the overall problem, but it'd help a little bit. Maybe Flickr/Yahoo! have a way of perma-banning people.) But before they go away, take screen-shots of the comments. They might come in handy later.
posted by itchie at 4:34 PM on May 10, 2006


I know I sound like a broken record, but end every stitch of communication with these mg people. You don't owe them an explanation and please, please, please give it serious consideration that you may be a pawn in a game they are playing. You seem like a trusting young woman, and it's admirable, but the time to trust is over. Suspect everyone, put yourself and your (physical, educational, financial, personal) safety first and be very careful what you reveal and to whom.

My advice on securing your internet connection, putting up a firewall, combing your PC for spyware/trojans stands.
I'd consider removing details, photos, etc from your Flickr and myspace too. It's not exactly a LJ, but it does detail what you're up to or where someone could find you if they want to. Plus, if someone wanted to get malicious, they could do some damage with some of those pictures. If they were to Google "Kooop" what are they going to find out about you? Remove it all. There is far too much personal information about you out there.

Other ideas, consider changing the locks on your doors. I know it sounds severe, but the fact that they've attempted to ruin your academic career suggests to me that they aren't fucking around, as they say.

Check out this site about safety tips for women. It's probably repetative, but a useful refresher for everyone anyway. Talk to the police about getting a can of mace and learn how to use it.

I don't think you're playing the victim, really. But you are making yourself an easy mark and whomever is doing this is calling your bluff and it's scary to me, and I'm not involved. Detail everything, screen caps, save emails, all of it. I'd also consider making a report to the police. If this escalates, they'll at least there is an initial complaint.
posted by jerseygirl at 4:54 PM on May 10, 2006


we got to talking and realized that there is a third party who is fucking with all of us, and we decided to team up instead of fight each other. it sounds strange, but it happened nonetheless.

I cannot stress enough how bad an idea it is to have continued contact with these people. Even though he cheated on her, they are a team, and couples can do very weird things in a relationship's self-reinforcing environment.

You asked what to do. We told you.

Kill kooop. Delete everything you can. Change your email address. Don't give it to anyone. Stop blogging. Stop posting pictures of yourself on the internet. Cease using this MetaFilter account. Change your phone number, format your computer. You have to kill kooop or kooop may wind up killing you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:32 PM on May 10, 2006


posted by rob paxon: I'm not trying to pile on but this all seems completely ridiculous to me and a bit humorous, I almost hate to say.
Yes, you are. Fine, you don't take this person's question seriously, you made your point. So why seven responses in the thread? Sheesh.

Kooop, stay away from MG. I'm with the others who think that he's the one quite possibly behind this.
posted by desuetude at 5:32 PM on May 10, 2006


I don't even know where to start with this, but here's a few points in no particular order:

On the evidence, I'd say it's safe to assume your stalker is a sociopath. That is, s/he is the personification of unreasonable and you had better not forget it. Anytime you find yourself thinking, 'No one would do that, that's not reasonable'—think again.

Therefore, you must not provide grist for his/her mill. It was probably pretty entertaining to watch you set yourself up for a fall by getting in a relationship with a teacher (p.s., bad idea under normal circumstances), and to see that you were blogging this whole mess. (Which if the stalker didn't know before, s/he surely knows now.) Neither of these was particularly circumspect (to say nothing of 'running around like a hussy' in the first place), and under the circumstances you can't afford to offer any openings. Your conduct has got to be above reproach, and your disclosures have got to be discreet.

I'm gonna disagree with jerseygirl about trust; in my view, you can't be humane and mature without it. Trust, however, does not imply submitting to unfair impositions. You have a right to live your life without being the object of anyone's contemptuous manipulations. But, as I said, the stalker isn't going to maintain his/her side of that, so you had better be vigilant on yours. I second the advice on checking for a keylogger on your computer, changing your e-mail address, and, for heaven's sweet merciful sake, ditching that LJ account. (And Myspace?! Fugeddaboutit!) If the stalker is connected to Mr. and Mrs. mg, your continuing efforts to work with them are very amusing as well; you must deny him/her that amusement. But don't forget that this is secondary to actually getting your act together enough that you stop doing inadvisable stuff.

(If by any means the stalker gets your new e-mail and contacts you, after you have cleaned your life up, about that 'reward' for being a 'good girl', you need to make some more radical changes, possibly including moving and losing contact with some local friends, and don't look back while you're doing it or so help me you will turn into a pillar of salt.)

Side note: Mr. and Mrs. mg's 'private detective' took their money and their case history, pulled one really obvious move that had failed already, gave up, and didn't catch any flak for it? Really?
posted by eritain at 6:27 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'd consider removing details, photos, etc from your Flickr and myspace too.

Also that 43things account you have.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:53 PM on May 10, 2006


From your Flickr photo:

what does mark have to do with it?!

Don't answer them. They are feeding on your reaction.

Also, read this book. You might find it in your library.
posted by clearlydemon at 8:01 PM on May 10, 2006


It could be a prior ex-boyfriend or something. Or perhaps a militant grammarian or editor upset at your lack of capital letters. Perhaps learning to use the shift key would displace their ire and vindictiveness?

Keep in mind if you do take the (good) advice to scrub stuff, that you should change stuff to be innocuous and clean of details, but beware of deleting stuff outright. The Google cache will keep a copy if you just outright delete stuff. You want the cache to be overwritten with the new, benign, free-of-personal-detail-that-can-be-used-against-you version.
posted by beth at 11:40 PM on May 10, 2006


Let me take a whack at the dead horse and agree that kooop must shut down her web presense entirely. Furthermore, one must assume that someone capable of such devotion to troubling this young woman is capable of further batshit behavior.

kooop, once you've scraped yourself off the internets, look into means of defending yourself. I leave it to your own paranoia level to determine what this means, but at least start carrying some pepper spray and learn how to throw a punch.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:02 AM on May 11, 2006


Please read this: Who's Watching You--Spyware and Stalkers. If your harasser actually isn't on your friends list and isn't MG, then there's a chance he (or she) has access to your computer. Completely secure your computer, change your passwords, etc., as others have mentioned... then don't fall into any bad habits like using easily guessed passwords, the same password on different accounts, opening executable files (.scr is an executable file, for example) or anything suspicious that has been emailed to you.

There are many sites that can help you learn more about dealing with a stalker. Just start googling "stalker"; Here's antistalking.com's page of resources, and here's wiredsafety.com's page on cyberstalking. Plus, stalkingvictimes.com has a forum. check out these Safety Tips and Mistakes Victims Make.

Figures vary somewhat, but half to two-thirds of victims know their stalkers in some way. One thing you want to do is examine your previous relationships/friendships for signs of the sort of behavior outlined on this page, under "Warning Signs" (about halfway down the page). The fact that the person hasn't called you may mean that you would recognize their voice.

I wonder if your harasser knows that anyone who uses the Internet anonymously "with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person" can be tried for violating federal telecommunications law and face fines or jail.
posted by taz at 2:06 AM on May 11, 2006


I noticed some athletic events in your flikr stream. Do you compete (road races, triathlons)? Are you a member of a team or club? I ask because I've noticed that there is a higher ratio of sociopathic weirdos in the athletically competitive population compared to the general population. This may be something to remember as you think about who would do this to you.
posted by peeedro at 3:33 AM on May 11, 2006


I would get a lawyer. Discuss whether you should go to the police.

For me the gap between info security and physical security is small. I'd rather over compensate then end up with someone breaking into my house.
posted by ewkpates at 5:44 AM on May 11, 2006


It's clearly MG. Do what everyone else said.
posted by penguin pie at 7:00 AM on May 11, 2006


i might be foolish for having details of my goings-on on the internet, but i'm not idiotic enough to leave them there when shit escalates to these proportions.

I'm not calling you idiotic, but (I think) I can still see a photo of your unmade bed, read about you 'watching bitches boxing at cooneys' a few weeks back, read about your work and see pictures of / read about Mark. I know your full name, I know on Sunday you ran on the beach, I know your cat is called Ollie. If I gave peoplefinders some money I could probably get your address and that of your relatives. And I got that from far less of a start than your stalker has.

Did the stalker know anything not on your journal? If so, s/he clearly has been phsyically following you or has control over your PC and possibly both. S/he may have used a proxy to conceal his/her IP address. You hang out with web developers, for whom this would be child's play.

You say that you're worried that your stalker might 'step it up a notch'. If s/he does, then you are, I'm afraid, a very easy target right now.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:04 AM on May 11, 2006


Drama being the operative tag.
posted by xod at 11:47 AM on May 11, 2006


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