Accused of Stalking - Terrified!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Epsilon88, Oct 29, 2010.

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What do I do? [read post first]

  1. Transfer to a new school

    3 vote(s)
    10.3%
  2. Stick it out in the same program

    26 vote(s)
    89.7%
  1. Epsilon88 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    #1
    I am in deep trouble, guys. I am in my 2nd year of university, in a small medical radiation program. There are 50 students in each year, for a total of 200 students. We are a very close-knit community. Anyway, our program has a website with an anonymous forum that only students can access. It's a lot like Macrumors - people discuss anything. Since it's anonymous, posters can write rude and nasty things without worrying. Anyway, I discovered this forum over the summer and spent a few months posting on it. I probably posted four to five hundred times. I have a very characteristic way of writing, as I use certain emoticons and phrases.

    As my 2nd year approached, I decided to stop using the forum, as it was really distracting. I was looking forward to making friends and coming out of the closet as a gay guy once I returned to uni. When I did return, I found that another guy in my program (we'll call him "Dave"), his girlfriend and his friends (7 or 8 of them) seemed to barely acknowledge me. They almost seemed creeped out by me. I found it strange, but figured it was just a reflection of my poor social skills. It was especially strange since they are really nice people, though they've always just been acquaintances.

    Flash forward nearly three months. I am sitting at my desk, reading reviews of the Macbook Air 11 incher and the phone rings. I pick it up, and it's Dave. I'm surprised, since he has never called before. He says: "I am going to be very blunt. I know that you're stalking me."

    He sounded so serious that I was just like "WHAT?" He went on to explain that he and everyone knew that I had been stalking him and posting about him on the anonymous chat forum. Apparently, these stalker posts were very similar to my writing style.

    So I immediately unblocked the forum on my website and went on. I looked up posts that referenced his name, and found over a hundred results. All of these posts expressed an obsessive yearning to be Dave's boyfriend. Most were silly, like "mmmm, I love Dave's curly blonde hair. I would love to put his feet in my lap and massage them." But some of them were creepy and invasive, with details about his family members' names and other private things.

    These obsessive posts were mostly posted around 4 am, and seemed fixated with certain body parts of Dave's, like his hair and feet. The writer would sometimes upload pictures of Dave and comment about how "cute" he was, write fake scripts about seducing him and ending his relationship with his girlfriend. The scariest part is that these posts were very similar to my own style! I'm not surprised at all that I was suspected.

    My friend accused me of posting those things, but once I told her sincerely that I didn't do it, she apologized. In a small program like this, rumours spread fast, and I've been branded a stalker. I don't have the courage to go to class and face my peers, and I don't think I'll be able to come out at uni. without confirming their suspicions.

    What do I say to him when I see him next? :(
     
  2. renewed macrumors 68040

    renewed

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Location:
    Bemalte Blumen duften nicht.
    #2
    Just tell him that you didn't do it and if he doesn't believe you just shrug it off and leave him alone. You know you didn't do it. Don't run away though. Stay and get your education and just leave them alone if they don't trust you. Sounds like your friends believes you now. Hang out with her.
     
  3. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #3
    If this is something you're taking seriously then talk to your IT department. They may be able to trace the IP address assigned to the 'stalker' by room number (are you on a university campus with its own network). Most forum software stores IP address for every post.

    Might be worthwhile involving your tutor.

    Without evidence or assistance it's going to be difficult for you to counter these claims.
     
  4. Moyank24 macrumors 601

    Moyank24

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    Location:
    in a New York State of mind
    #4
    The forum may be an anonymous one, but the IP addresses aren't. I would seriously advise your friend to contact whoever is running the forum and have them look into who is really posting that stuff. At the very least you would be able to prove that the posts were from a different IP than the one you were originally posting from. I'm not sure about the registration process, but they also may be able to investigate more based on registration info.

    If you know you didn't do it than I would try to get him to concentrate on finding the real stalker. That stuff can turn scary.
     
  5. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #5
    I would recommend that you tell him it is not you because clearly it is not you and someone else is stocking him. He has the right to be creep out but it is not you.
     
  6. Epsilon88 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    #6
    Thanks guys, that's very reassuring. How are people's IP addresses determined? Since this is a university, most students just use the school computers and Internet.

    I think I should just explain to him very clearly that it wasn't me, and never bring it up again. The worst part is that I really can't prove my innocence.
     
  7. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #7
    the web site admins can look up the IP address that hit the site. It will link back to the port that posted those comments. They more than likely can track it back to the user name as well.
     
  8. 184550 Guest

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    #8
    I would stay and fight the accusations. The short term may be hard but you'll save your reputation in the long term. Running will only make you look guilty.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2001
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #9
    How often do these posts come up? If they're frequent enough, make a point of hanging out with some people who can then vouch for you and say you were nowhere near a computer at the time just one post was made.
     
  10. acidfast7 macrumors 65816

    acidfast7

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    EU
    #10
    being an adult about this situation...

    Some assumptions:

    1. You're an outcast and that's why you're targeted
    2. The person doing it knows both you and Dave.
    3. You're really not writing the posts.

    Action to take:

    Don't transfer.

    How to handle the situation:

    Anytime that anyone confronts you about being a stalker ... State in a clam voice that it's not you. Furthermore, state that whoever is confronting you is spreading libel/deformation of character and that you're going to the administration/police if they don't stop. In fact, you're legally correct here and they won't like that response, especially Dave.

    They'll pursue one of two options. They'll stop talking to you about it, which is good, because you need to focus on your studies. Or they'll actively try to prove it's you. Once they try to prove it, they'll find out that it's not you (by IP address) and most likely find out that it's someone else in your program ... who most likely can't be held responsible anyway because it's an anonymous forum and if they're not caught in the act of submitting it. In fact, Dave and his buddies are most in the legally liable because they're confronting you as a stalker in a public place and possibly in front of others.

    Your reputation:

    It wasn't great before, as per your own admission, and it won't get better anytime soon. I'd just be firm and state that you have nothing to do with it and monitor their reaction. If the blatantly state that it's you, reaffirm that it's not and wait for them to look. When they figure out it's not you, they'll give you a big apology. That's when you state that it's understandable because no one likes being stalked and that's when you start building a friendship with Dave and his buddies.

    Good luck.
     
  11. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #11
    Have a talk with Dave face to face and tell him that it wasn't you. You both should be hunting for the real guy
     
  12. andalusia macrumors 68030

    andalusia

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #12
    If people use the school's internet then the IT staff can monitor all network activity going on. Each computer has it's own IP address, so if somebody is posting things under your username from IP Address One, and you're sat in your room researching for your studies from IP Address Two, the IT staff will know that it's not you posting in these threads because it's coming from a different IP.

    Also, the forum administrators will be able to see which posts are made from which IP addresses (I think I recall this feature from a couple of years ago when I was an admin of a forum, although I'm certainly no expert) and if the false posts are made consistently from an IP address which is not yours; A) this is proof that it wasn't you, and B) using the information of this IP address it may be possible to trace to the computer where they were posted and find out who is posting them.

    I definitely don't recommend transferring schools. Just deny it coolly and calmly and give your side of the argument, it's certainly valid, and even if they don't really believe you the more firmly you say it the less certain they'll be that it was you.

    Good luck.
     
  13. acidfast7 macrumors 65816

    acidfast7

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    EU
    #13
    I don't advise wasting time looking for the "other" person.

    It's not worth the effort, because as soon as they understand that they're being searched for, they'll stop ... wasting everyone's time. If Dave wants to look, that's his business.

    In fact, I wouldn't put another iota of effort into this, except by doing what I stated above. I wouldn't talk to IT or administration, unless other parties really push the issue. I've seen all kinds of stalking and sexual harassment issues sent to administration and nothing usually happens because there's no tangible evidence.

    If Dave, wants to look, and he sounds like he does because he called you (and maybe others), let him, but don't be a part of it. It will blow over given enough time.

    For all anyone knows, Dave could be writing the messages himself for attention.
     
  14. Ttownbeast macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    #14
    Ever consider the possibility of someone else using your computer?
     
  15. Epsilon88 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    #15
    I was planning to send him this email:

    "Hi Dave,

    I was reading over some of the posts about you on the chat forum, and I am a bit creeped that you thought I wrote them. I'm not entirely surprised, since they are indeed similar to my own style, but yeah, I didn't write them.

    I guess there's no way for me to prove that, but I do want to point out that every few months I do a sweep of my Facebook friends and delete people who I never talk to. In early September, I did such a sweep and deleted you. I think that any stalker worth their salt would keep their target on Facebook, since it is the ultimate creeping tool. Plus, I think you'd need access to your Facebook to get the private details that the creeper posted.

    That's all from my side on this. See you at the committee meet."

    Is this a good reply? Do you think I should send this email? I tried to make it casual and stick to the facts. Not get melodramatic.
     
  16. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #16
    Looks good to me.

    I always find that it's best to keep difficult emails as short and to the point as possible. This says what you want and sets out to bring it to a close.
     
  17. 184550 Guest

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    #17
    Personally, I would go with something something forceful, professional and something that makes it absolutely clear that you did not and are not stalking him.
     
  18. acidfast7 macrumors 65816

    acidfast7

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    EU
    #18
    I agree. Just confront him and say it wasn't you. If he doesn't like that, remember that he's in a really bad position. Offer support but be firm.
     
  19. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #19
    Hasn't the OP has ALREADY told the guy that he didn't write those posts?

    If so, don't bother bringing up the subject with him. If he brings it up, then just tell him again that it wasn't you, but don't go on and on about it since that'll just make you look guilty.
     
  20. Epsilon88 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    #20
    I see your point. My natural instinct is just to keep trying to convince me until he believes me, but I realize that that could be counterproductive. When I see him next, I'm just going to say "Hey, I read those posts and I see why you think it would be me, but it wasn't." and leave it at that.

    I went to a party with a bunch of ppl in my program today and no one seemed to be acting strange. Phew.
     
  21. TSE macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    St. Paul, Minnesota
  22. Epsilon88 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    #22
    Good plan. I'm seeing him on Monday.
     
  23. agkm800 macrumors 6502a

    agkm800

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
    #23
    Talk to Dave and suggest an official investigation to find out it's not you. Call the police if necessary. If you are really innocent, what's there to worry? :confused: I really don't get it.
     
  24. Epsilon88 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    #24
    All I'm worried about is my reputation. I don't think that these posts rise to the level of criminality (maybe I'm wrong?) but they were more just annoyingly creepy. Anyway, in a small program rumours can spread quickly, and when you're relatively introverted, they can stick. If people actually believed these allegations, then I would feel rather unsafe. That's all I'm worried about. I would hate to be denied friendship opportunities or feel unsafe because of some stupid chat forum.
     
  25. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #25
    You should contact the department assigned to maintain your school's anonymous forums. Not only do they need to take action by removing the offending posts and disciplining that user, but action must be taken to ensure a situation like this cannot occur again.

    It's inane that any higher-learning institution would maintain an anonymous internet forum that allows such behavior from any of their students. 4chan, maybe, but a university? I wouldn't have thought so.
     

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