how do I handle changing my name and job because of a stalker?

A reader writes:

For a few years, I worked as a voice actor. A few of the shows I worked on generated rather passionate fan followings. While that was certainly exciting for me as an actor, it also proved troublesome for my “real world” job working in academic libraries.

I used my real name when I did those shows (well, my nickname, which I’ve used all my life). I had worked as a stage actor for many years before that and always used my real name without any complications, so I thought nothing of doing the same in voice acting.

The trouble is that I work at a public college. This means that if a fan were to Google my name and my city (because of my work, that’s rather easy to put guess), that fan could not only find out very quickly where I work, but also my legal name as that is what IT uses when they create staff email accounts. Now, because this information is so easily found, fans have spread the word across several sites that I’m a librarian, along with the city I work in.

What this all amounts to is that I receive fan letters in my work email, and a few more daring fans have actually come to my library in the hopes of having some face to face time. I typically don’t respond to emails as I don’t want to encourage others to contact me at work (also, I’m a state employee so all of my work emails are public record). When people randomly show up, I explain as politely as I can that I’m at work and I’m not really allowed to conduct personal business on state time. Most of these fans are pretty understanding and just ask if they can see me at an upcoming convention.

One fan, however, has taken things too far. This young man not only showed up to the library job I worked while I was voice acting, but he has continued to come to every library I’ve worked in since then. It started with him coming by my library to try to chat, and when I told him I couldn’t do that on work time, he would wait outside and follow me to my car to try to talk. After several weeks of trying to duck him on foot, I asked our public safety officer to tell the young man to stop. He did stop following me to my car and instead waited in the parking lot in his own car and follow me as I drove away.

I would try to lose this young man in traffic, but if that didn’t work, I would drive to grocery stores or gyms far away from my apartment. Nevertheless, he found out where I live (I don’t know if he finally followed me home without my noticing, or if he used my license plate number and my legal name to find me). He started sending flowers, candies, stuffed animals, and other little gifts to my apartment.

At this point, I contacted the city police. They said they couldn’t do anything about this young man because he hadn’t made any threats and he wasn’t personally delivering the gifts — he just had them shipped to me. They suggested I inform my property manager and ask that the office no longer accept deliveries for me.

Around this time, I was offered a job in “Gotham City” about two hours away, but still in the same large metropolitan area. I accepted the job and moved, but this fan followed me. He started showing up at my new job, emailing me, and sending flowers to my office. My new job required visitors to check in before being allowed through a security gate, so it was much easier to keep him away from my office. I alerted campus police and they eventually trespassed the man, though he continued to email and send me things at work.

I’ve since moved to another job in Gotham City that is much more in line with what I want to do as a librarian. I am now an instructor and I assist students one on one at the research desk in the library. All was well for my first six months, but my stalker found me again. The same behavior has continued, but to avoid being trespassed, this man enrolled in one lab class so that he would be a student with official business on campus. Because they can’t block a student from using the library, the campus police suggested allowing him to use the library only while I am not on duty. While that sounds fair, it means I’ve had to give this man my work schedule so he knows when he can’t come in.

Also, flowers and gifts have started arriving at my new apartment, which tells me this man again knows where I live. I went to the Gotham City police but they said the same thing as the other city’s police department: they can’t do anything until he makes a threat.

In the library world, it’s perfectly normal to leave a job when you finish your degree as I did. And it’s also perfectly normal to only stay at that first post-grad job for a year or two, which I did. I’ve been in my newest position for about eight months now and I don’t know how much longer I can deal with the stress of having a stalker.

I’d like to move to a new job far away from Gotham City and change my name (or at least go by a different nickname at work so my email address will be different). I’m curious as to how I should go about this. Do I choose a new nickname now and use it on my application materials? If so, do I tell all my references that someone may call asking for a reference for “Samantha Smith” instead of “Katy Smith”?

(I’m hoping to avoid legally changing my name if I can. I’d like to try simply going by a different first name to see if that, combined with moving far enough away, would put a stop to things. I think my last name is so common that people generally wouldn’t be able to find me with that alone. My middle name would be an option, or at least a variant of it.)

And what do I list as my reason for leaving my current job? For academic librarian positions, you typically have to fill out an application in addition to submitting a resume, and there’s usually a character limit in the “reason for leaving” field. The term “stalker” gets thrown about frequently in the library world as everyone has had to deal with an overly-attached patron at some point. How do I explain that this one is legit, and that’s why I’m leaving my current position (which I love) after less than a year?

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! This is really horrible and scary.

You could indeed start applying with the new name now, and just give your references a heads-up about what’s going on. And so that you don’t have to rely on all your references remembering, you could include a note on your list of references saying something like, “Note that these references know me as Katy Smith, my legal name. I’ve recently begun going by Samantha, my middle name.”)

Another option is to apply using your current name, but once you have an offer, explain that you’re in the process of changing your name because of a stalker situation and that by the time you start with them, you’ll be going by Samantha Smith instead of Katy Smith. (As far as precise timing, don’t wait any longer to say it than the conversation where you accept the offer. That’s because as soon as you accept, they may start getting you into their system with the old name, and it can be weirdly hard to get some employers to change that.)

As for what to list for a reason for leaving, you can just list “moving.” That’s actually true — you are in fact moving, and your application doesn’t need to get into the reasons why. (Just like if you were moving because of a divorce or a desire for warmer weather, you’d still just list “moving,” not “divorce” or “it’s too chilly here.”)

You might be asked in the interview about why you’re moving, and you have two choices there: You could give an answer focused on why you’re interested in moving to the area of the country where the new job is (like “I’ve realized I want to be closer to family” or “I really wanted to find work in Oregon before I get much more established in my career, because I want to live in this area long-term”). Or you could be honest: “A few years back, I worked as a voice actor and a fan from that time has been stalking me. I’ve decided to change my name and move away.” Since you’re worried about the way the term gets used in the library world, you could add, “I know there’s always some risk of patrons with unhealthy attachments in this field, but this was different than that.”

Of those two options, you’re probably better off with the first. With the second, employers will still want to know why their area, so you might as well jump straight there — and I worry that the details of the situation will distract them from what you want them focusing on.

But we also have to balance that against the reality that employers may worry about you leaving the job after a relatively short time, and explaining the stalker provides context for that — so they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Because of that, you might just go with whichever you’re more comfortable with, and whichever you’re going to be more confident explaining in an interview.

I hope this all gets settled quickly and easily, and that you have much more peace ahead of you.

{ 582 comments… read them below }

    1. LadyLawyer*

      Seconded. My heart just breaks for you, having to give up so much because of this person. What he’s doing should absolutely be illegal.

      1. Annoyed*

        Agreed. I don’t understand how stalking is *not* illegal. It just boggles the mind that people are allowed to terrorize you unimpeded unless they actually do domething violent/break into your house/etc.

        1. Wintermute*

          It’s complicated because on the flip side, some people are very fragile and coincidences happen, I’ve seen someone try to get a restraining order because the same person “ran into” her five times in the course of a month or two… but it really was pure coincidence! Given the degree of restrictions having a restraining order puts on you, due process has to provide robust protections to ensure it’s warranted. As an active member of a forum that provides legal advice, you would be amazed by all the things people think are actionable or want people punished, legally, for. It also makes it harder for someone to use restraining orders offensively as opposed to defensively, in an attempt to coerce someone into behavior (also the same reason why you cannot voluntarily dismiss a valid restraining order in many cases, so the court doesn’t get drawn into adjudicating “on-again-off-again” abusive relationships)

          That said, I agree that sometimes judges lack of understanding of nuance is maddening, especially with what’s considered threats. “he posted a picture of a noose to a social media page he knew you’d see, but since he didn’t MAKE you see it or print it out and hand it to you, that’s not a threat”– okay, sure buddy, on cloud-cookoo-land that’s not a threat but here on EARTH… Because “threatening” is such a wide range of behavior and you can make things that are, on paper, innocuous very threatening ;take sending flowers for example, the message could be ‘Thinking of you’ but it could just as easily be “see, I can get to you anywhere, even here”.

          1. Lily*

            Yes but there’s a HUGE difference between running into someone on the street and mailing someone gifts at their home after they’ve been asked to stop. A harassment law would acknowledge that.

          2. Flash Bristow*

            Another problem with restraining orders are that – in the same way that OP’s schedule was released – they will disclose your address to the offender, so that they know where not to go. If you’ve moved to escape the stalking, it can seem like a backwards step.

            OP, this must be so frustrating (and somewhat scary) for you. My sympathies. I hope you find a solution that works.

    2. Snark*

      Right? How is this not legally actionable?

      I caught some flak for my body disposal joke in the last thread, but damn if I’m not down for whatever with this guy too.

      1. Slam*

        I am a prosecutor. This is stalking under my state laws and it probably is in your state. I encourage you to speak with a supervising lieutenant at the police department, as well as the local district attorney’s office.

        You can also seek a civil stalking injunction by yourself. If he violates that, that is an additional criminal offense.

        I am so sorry that these crimes haven’t been taken seriously, but this is all criminal.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          Right. It IS illegal, but the statutes mean little if the authorities are blowing you off. I hope you get resolution quickly and soon, OP.

        2. AKchic*

          It may be “illegal”, but it may also not be “actionable” since there is no actual violence.

          In Alaska, for example (where I reside): none of this would warrant a restraining order or even police intervention. The horror stories I could tell you from my personal experiences dealing with my stalker of an ex-husband (who, at most, saw 3 days in jail due to being picked up on a Friday afternoon and being released first thing on Monday morning after violating multiple protective orders and actual parole for assault charges and violations of DVPOs), and other women who have experienced the same, or worse.

          The best advice I can offer is hire an attorney to write a cease and desist letter to this stalker. Hiring an attorney to fight for you rather than doing things on your own will help you a lot more than you know.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            OP, I want to second this: try the legal version of ‘Stop This Now!’ (cease and desist letter & protective order) before you upend your life and leave the job you love.

            If that doesn’t work, distance probably isn’t going to help enough to let you continue to work under your current last name (unless it’s Smith or Johnson), because your career is distinctive and Google is scary – he almost certainly knows your middle name. I know you don’t want to legally change your name, but would you rather move and have him start sending you things again in 6mo?

            That’s only if the direct ‘Stop Talking To Me, Legal Version’ doesn’t work, of course.

            He sucks.

            I am so sorry you are having to deal with him.

            1. Lilianne*

              I’m not in the US so I’m not sure how applicable/doable this is, but
              1) One of my ex-colleagues has a similar problem (also anime related…), her new workplace let her work under a completely made up name. If this is an option, it might be better than using your middle and last name, he might know it already.
              2) You probably don’t want to keep moving around every couple of years, so it might make sense to research which states are more severe with persecuting stalkers and pick one of them to move?
              The situation sucks so much, I hope you can successfully get away and move on with a great job.

            2. Kobayashi Maru*

              Maybe the No Contact Order could be modified to prevent both 3rd party contact, any type of communication -direct or indirect AND no sending of gifts, items, correspondence or any thing else. Even if they send it anonymously, it can often be traced and then it would be easier to prove they’ve committed a crime.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Ugh, this would not be stalking (civil or criminal) in my jurisdiction, and it would likely be blown off by authorities, too. It’s insane that you have to wait for something to escalate before nipping it in the bud.

            I totally agree that it could be useful to have an attorney draft a cease and desist letter. Even if it isn’t “illegal,” lawyers are pretty effective at scaring normal (non-lawyer) people by their mere existence, and it may help dampen his enthusiasm. I’d also keep track of his behavior, because in some state at some time, it’s going to meet the definition of harassment. (I know this sounds crazy, but I’d be tempted to evaluate jobs based on the stalking and civil harassment laws for that state.)

            It may also be worth re-examining the University’s student conduct rules to see if his behavior meets the definition for civil harassment or civil menacing (it may not—those often also require some kind of threat or credible fear). Sometimes universities are more aggressive about disallowing that behavior, even if they don’t enforce those policies, because they want to avoid liability if something more severe happens down the road.

            1. Anna*

              That is such bullshit. Every act of violence from stalkers we’ve ever seen reported in the media started with this sort of “harmless” refusal to accept no as an answer.

        3. naomi*

          This would certainly be criminal in my jurisdiction. In addition to the other suggestions here (cease and desist, civil restraining order, etc), I would strongly encourage you to seek the advice of a criminal attorney in your area who can advise you as to whethr this is in fact illegal in your state. If it is and law enforcement are just being dicks, at least you can try to go above them whether through speaking to a prosecutor or putting pressure on them through your attorney.

  1. Videogame Lurker*

    I am so sorry you had to go through this, OP. I don’t have anything to add, just my absolute sorrow at this stalker pretending to be a fan, because this stalker gives honest fans a bad name.

    1. Vicky Austin*

      All stalkers give fans a bad name.
      And almost all, if not all stalkers think they are just very persistent fans who refuse to give up on their “dream” of connecting with their crush.

    2. lyonite*

      I know you mean well, but please don’t make this about you. I am going to reserve all my sympathy for the woman having her entire life upended, rather than fans who might be sad that someone is less likely to talk to them.

      1. Mamunia*

        This might not be what the 1st commenter meant, but I read the comment as now the OP has personal experience/reason to be wary of all “fans,” which sounds very exhausting for her.

        1. Video Game Lurker*

          This was what I was meaning. I was absolutely *NOT* making this about me, and was merely saying that OP has every reason to be very wary of people proclaiming to be fans.

      2. Nancie*

        That seems a bit harsh; I didn’t get any hint of “oh woe is me” from Videogame Lurker. VL may just as easily be a well known videogame creator who’s found they have to be wary of their “fans”.

      3. Health Insurance Nerd*

        This is really an unkind reply. I don’t see how this comment in any way makes it “about” Videogame Lurker.

        1. Edith*

          I didn’t find it unkind. A stalking victim has reached out to Alison and this community for help, and one of the very first comments was somebody pointing out that stalking has minor repercussions on third parties too. This rhetorical device is known in the sisterhood as derailing, and it needlessly takes focus away from the actual victim. It may have been unintentional, but that doesn’t make it less problematic.

          1. Whit in Ohio*

            This blog is not a designated feminist / woman’s studies space. I don’t think that it’s right, fair, or kind to expect every commentator to know and obey the rules of feminist discourse when they don’t form any part of this site’s rules.

    3. Another Video Game Lurker*

      As another academic librarian at a public institution under my real name who used to work in an industry rife with crazy-ass fans, this OP’s letter is my worst nightmare.

  2. animaniactoo*

    OP, I am so sorry that you’re dealing with this. However, I would like to warn you away from using your middle name. It’s officially/legally connected to you enough for someone who is really hunting to take a shot on it being you. Pick something else completely unrelated to anything that can be publicly connected with you. Good luck, I hope your plan succeeds.

    1. Videogame Lurker*

      With moving past shock and horror, I agree that the going by middle name may also be too easy to find you again by.
      Maybe use a first name in your family that you like? When my Dad was in radio for a small town, he used his grandfather’s first name and another’s last name for his on-air name, maybe you could do something similar for your legal name?

      1. Work/Life Balance Warrior*

        On the trail of family names you like, perhaps there were a couple other names your parents considered giving you before making their decision; if you have a good relationship with them, it could be nice to keep that sort of connection, where they still kind of named you.

    2. Luna*

      Yes this, I was coming here to make the same suggestion. Unfortunately there is a good chance the stalker already knows LW’s middle name too and might search for that once he has trouble finding her under her first name.

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with this LW!

      1. Anonymoose*

        Oh, I wouldn’t doubt that the stalker already has a ton of info that she’d be surprised about.

        Maybe using your mother’s maiden name if it’s one of those that’s gender neutral? And then in your email signature, listing MMaidenName ‘OP’ Smith or something so your colleagues still call you by the correct name?

        Also, I’m surprised his behavior didn’t go against the code of conduct. If he had done this to another student, he’d be shipped off to an academic senate hearing. It’s BS that the campus isn’t taking it more seriously.

        ps. I had NO IDEA librarian’s had regular stalking experiences. Wow.

        1. JeanneM*

          Indeed we do. Part of it I think is that a certain type of man (and it’s almost always men stalking women) thinks that any woman who is nice to him must “like” him and thus he is free to pursue them relentlessly. And since many of us are in a customer-facing job, we have to be nice to to everyone, so we get all kinds of attention we’d rather not get. Another part of it, for those of us in the public sector anyway, is that we technically work for them so they feel justified in trying to get whatever they want from us. Most of the time that just manifests in garden-variety entitlement complexes but occasionally it gets scary.

          Things like this are why many of us at my workplace are very very careful about who we give our names to. Policy dictates that we have to give out our first names if asked, but a lot of us will lie about what our first names are to get around that. If I’m getting a bad vibe from someone who asks what my name is I’ll give them my middle name, which appears nowhere in my work records and is super generic. If I get a really bad vibe off someone who asks for my name, I won’t give them anything. Screw the policy.

          1. Kat in VA*

            In my younger years, I’ve had to explain to more than just a few of my male friends that, “No, that bartender / server / *other service position* woman isn’t into you, SHE’S PAID TO BE NICE TO YOU, NOW KNOCK IT OFF!”

            They didn’t want to believe that they weren’t special, standout, amazing or whatever, nor did they really want to hear that yes, she has to be nice to you (and in some cases, maybe a wee bit flirty or whatever) because that’s LITERALLY her JOB and that’s what SHE IS PAID TO DO.


            1. WhatsInAName*

              Hear hear. I used to work retail at a large grocery store, doing a regular early morning shift before my afternoon classes. This one guy used to come in and buy something every morning. I was polite, friendly, retail-y. He was convinced that because I was there whenever he was, I was telling him I was interested. He got banned from the store upon screaming at me for being a “tease” when I declined to give him my phone number.

              I didn’t get to pick and choose when I came in, I was on a roster, as is every retail person ever. But nah, this guy was absolutely sure it meant I was into him. The mind boggles.

              1. MoFlo*

                I once worked at a gas station when I was in college. I almost always worked alone, and until around 11pm or midnight. There was a guy who would come in daily, asking me out, and I would turn him down (I used a fake name tag, because of past issues with weirdos in customer service). This went on and on, and he would leave notes every time with ALL his info – phone numbers (home, cell, pager), address, email… all of it. Then after a while, he would come in, click on his phone, listen, and slam it on the counter, saying, “It’s working fine! Why haven’t you called?” It got really scary. I suspected he was the one who would call my work and play songs or say inappropriate things, but never could prove it. Luckily, he never found out any of my information or address, that I am aware of. One night, I got home from work and flipped on the late news. This guy was on the news, arrested for trying to have his wife murdered, and the judge ended up giving him double the maximum penalty because of the depraved details he told the hitman to do. It still terrifies me to think about it, almost 20 years later.

            2. Anna*

              Back in my younger days I had a friend who frequented strip clubs and was certain one of the strippers he saw regularly might actually be into him. At the time I didn’t have the words to tell him that was incredibly unlikely and that he was literally paying her for attention. Perhaps she appreciated him and thought he was a funny guy, but that in no way meant she wanted to date him and unless she actually said she wanted to see him in the real world, he should not assume anything.

              1. Cactus*

                One of my exes also told me once about a stripper who he was CERTAIN was “definitely into him.” Meanwhile I’m thinking “dude…no. She was just doing her job.”

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            There’s a youngish guy who is a librarian, played guitar at kid’s story time. I am pretty sure he got some of this too – I made sure I was polite, but not too polite (ie, pushy), and tried to keep my kid from monopolizing him.

            Because people in public service deserve to feel safe.

            1. Byers, Frohike, and Langly*

              This is from the study you linked:

              “Females were at higher risk of stalking victimization than
              males (table 3). During the study period, females experienced
              20 stalking victimizations per 1,000 females age 18
              or older. The rate of stalking victimization for males was
              approximately 7 per 1,000 males age 18 or older.”

            2. PB*

              JeanneM was talking about her personal experience, not the experiences of all stalking victims throughout the country.

            3. Ace*

              Actually, literally from your own link, women are more than doubly likely to be stalked, and it’s statistically more likely to be by a man.
              Read your own sources.

          3. Drago Cucina*

            We give first names only and refuse to give staff schedules. We’ve had several staff members who have had patrons who don’t understand boundaries or “no”. I seem to have been on a roll lately suspending library patrons due to inappropriate behavior toward staff.

          4. alsoanon*

            ~”and it’s almost always men stalking women”

            Actually, stalking can happen to anyone of any gender by anyone of any gender. “(Almost always men)” is a long stretch according to the statistics.

            1. Statistics*

              Actually, it’s not a stretch (for reference, see the citation just a couple comments above yours). Saying that most stalkers are male is not equivalent to saying that “all stalkers everywhere are absolutely always men, every time.”

              But furthermore, how does standing up for female stalkers help stalking victims generally, or the OP in particular? Stalking is frequently a gendered form of violence, and trying to remove the gender from that analysis on the basis of “fairness” is actively unhelpful bullshit.

              1. Anna*

                It’s the same person who “well, actually’d” with a study that didn’t support their “well, actually.”

              2. Iris Eyes*

                Almost 3x as likely is not almost always. Also the above references sited victims NOT perpetrators big difference.

                I would also posit that men are far more likely not to report, because I suspect that they usually get told some version of “be a man and deal with it.” Male victims (especially of females) seem to get their victimhood removed entirely rather than being victim blamed which seems to be the response to women. Also men are less conditioned to feel threatened by stalking behavior, women are taught to be suspicious.

                Removing people from the conversation because for them its less of a risk doesn’t help the conversation.

            2. Anon-e-moose*

              This is a great example of ‘Well actually…’ AND ‘Not all men…’
              Well done

        2. MW*

          I’d caution against using any name with a logical connection to LW’s identity. Stalker could figure out that she’s changed her name (he could read this post, and these very comments!) and at that point he’d probably search for logical pseudonyms. Middle names, names of family members, etc. As much as it sucks that this is LW’s burden to bear, I think she needs to pick a name that can’t be figured out easily.

    3. Rainy*

      And if you are working in academia, you may in fact have to legally change it–it’s fairly common for university HR and IT to insist on employee email aliases etc being your legal name or one of a set of pre-defined “acceptable nicknames” for some annoying reason.

      Rasputinilla who has used Rainy for 20+ years for EXTREMELY OBVIOUS REASONS but can’t get it as an email alias because her employers think they get to define what is and isn’t a nickname.

      1. OP*

        This is a big concern of mine! I already go by a nickname at work, but my legal name has always been my email. When I’ve asked to change it at previous jobs, I’ve been told I could change it to my nickname but nothing else because students and faculty would need to be able to find me in a directory. So I thought if I went by a variant of my middle name instead of my current nickname, that might be enough to get IT to change it.

        But in my current position, it’s not an option at all. I have to use my legal name as my email address. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this. I just wish exceptions were a possibility.

        1. Anna*

          Is there any way campus police could force the issue with IT for you? It’s pretty ludicrous that your employer won’t help you with a minor admin thing that could vastly improve your personal safety

          1. Anonymoose*

            Yup, they really dropped the ball on this. I said above that academic senate (or maybe student judicial affairs?) needs to be brought into the situation.

        2. yasmara*

          I work in IT and I think that’s outrageous. They absolutely CAN change this if they *wanted* to. Any chance of going to your Dean to explain the stalking situation? I would think they wouldn’t want to lose a valuable employee (and you love your job! I’m so sad for you in this situation) over some inflexibility, especially when there’s someone stalking you.

          1. Luna*

            Definitely agree to take this to someone higher up. They made you give your stalker your work schedule!!!!!!! That is outrageous. There MUST be a better solution, and someone higher up can make it happen if they want to- and if they don’t want to at first, maybe casually dropping in the appropriate language about the legal liability the university is putting itself in by making their employee give her known stalker her work schedule might help them reassess how interested they are in helping you with this.

            1. Anon Pixie*

              This can also be the problems with ROs– in order to tell the person to not be places, they have to be told the places not to be, which then tells them all the places where their target might be.

              1. Luna*

                But in this case the university knows that the guy only became a student in order to stalk an employee. And instead of responding by taking action to expel the student, they instead decided the best course of action would be to give the stalker their employee’s work schedule and call it a day.

                1. Jules the 3rd*

                  Unfortunately, this is a good example of how (un)seriously people take stalking. Right up until the shooting starts.

                2. bookbot*

                  I’m not at all surprised this is how the university reacted. A former roommate of mine was being stalked by her ex, who started showing up to one of her classes (he was not enrolled in the class). The professor liked the dude and basically told her she was being narcisistic for thinking he was there for her–even though the dude had started showing up at our apartment unannounced once he found our address. She dropped the class and found out later that he stopped going once she did. People don’t take stalking seriously and they don’t take women’s experiences seriously until it’s too late.

            2. smoke tree*

              I can’t get over how the university has handled this. It should be perfectly reasonable to ban a student from the library if the student has been behaving inappropriately there, although they should really just kick him out entirely. You’d think universities would be more concerned about employee safety.

              1. Namelesscommentator*

                Given the typical response to campus sexual assault, this is not surprising at all.

                OP, best of luck with the name change and move. One thing to ask of the next job may be to go by your (new) initials publicly – my university had this format ( so IT may be able to handle that. You could also ask your boss to remove you from the directory, which was allowed for famous students, and I believe, some of the more prominent professors. Asking up front with the police reports may make them more able to accommodate this.

              2. serenity*

                As awful as this situation is (and I feel terribly for the OP), law enforcement is technically correct when they’ve told her that she hasn’t been threatened and this stalker person doesn’t seem to have demonstrated any violent tendencies thus far. That’s cold comfort for the OP, I know, but I’m not sure any school would have strong reason to ban a student outright or make the leap to “this person is threatening someone’s safety” with the facts here.

                1. smoke tree*

                  I think that’s a failure of the law, though. It should be obvious to any reasonable person that following someone to multiple homes and workplaces in multiple cities is inherently threatening.

            3. CJH*

              I second this. Once you get the job, explain the stalking situation and request an official exception from any “legal name” requirements. It would probably be very helpful to have copies of any incident reports from campus police from your last few jobs. Having documentation will make it harder for the school to have a valid reason to deny you use of a preferred name. If you get push back, you can ask the school what they plan to do to protect your privacy if the stalker follows you to their campus.

          2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

            I just don’t get the “can’t change it” thing? So, if you got married during your employment you would be maidenname@work for the rest of your time there, even though your legal married name is different? What a pathetic cop out! It took A DAY for the IT department to change my email address after I got married, and that was only because they had to do a batch update for all the other linked systems that could only be done after everyone had logged off for the evening.
            My login name is still tangentally linked to my maiden name (would have meant creating a whole new user otherwise and I have very specific access rights), but anyone emailing uses marriedname@work
            Your IT department should be doing more to help you with this OP.

            1. Bigglesworth*

              That’s what happened to me. I was a student at a university and my email was After graduating, they never shut down my email. When I went to work for them two years later and ask that my email be changed to, they said they could only do so IF I was ok with them shutting down my old email. I asked this maybe two months after I started and already had work emails I needed to keep. The entire two years I worked there my email stayed bsmith. It was a shock at my next job to actually see bjones!

            2. Rainy*

              When I marry Mr Rainy this year and become Rainy Severe-Storm, they will change my email address to Rasputinilla Severe-Storm when they see the changed Social Security paperwork and not before. I plan to change Rasputinilla to Rainy legally at the same time if I can manage it, but what a giant pain in the ass over a freaking nickname that I’ve been using since I was in my teens.

              1. Lora*

                Can I just tell you, these people are bonkers. Your email can be if nobody else has that one.

                Students and people need to find you? Okay, they can find on the class syllabus/website for that semester. Or if you’re just working for the department and not teaching, can be made to direct to you. Or whatever kind of generic inbox you want. Whatever.

                This is just not complicated, and there are dozens if not hundreds of reasons to be able to use anything you please as long as it’s uniquely identifiable by the server. It’s school policy? Policies are made by people, and can be re-written when they are found to be written all stupid. This is written all stupid. Policies are guidance, not law.

                1. Luna*

                  Yeah, normally students, staff & faculty who are looking for someone would search the directory by that person’s name, not their email- the name search would then show that that person’s email is, or whatever. The email doesn’t have to match the name for others to find someone on an internal directory.

                2. GG Two shoes*

                  I know you are doing as an example, but my alma mater (the University of Northern Iowa) was, in fact,blahblah@ haha!

                3. Jules the 3rd*

                  My employer, a Fortune 100 tech company is also unable to just change names without deleting the old email account.

                  It’s like they’ve never heard of aliases.

                  For reference, Family Jules has a home server; Mr. Jules and I each have 3 emails that funnel to our ‘personal’ in-boxes – our permanent one for resume’s, our ‘family’ alias that goes to fam / friend, changes maybe every 3 years, and our ‘give to advertisers’ alias that we change every 6mo or so when the spam gets overwhelming. It’s not rocket science to set up the aliases.

                4. Beanie*

                  Sorry to jump in but another (former) Cedar Falls-ian here! UNI Fight!

                  Dear OP I hate to say it but so many agencies have dropped the ball for you. Your employer is being ridiculous and if they cared about your safety they would not have suggested a “compromise.” Purse all legal matters and lawyer up as much as you can afford (and look into local pro-bono help or other resources). Scare the legal bejeeberz out of this guy. Follow up loudly with law enforcement. This IS stalking:

                  “The U.S. Department of Justice defines stalking as “repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”[1] In a 2006 study, the DOJ defined “conduct” as: “making unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails, following or spying on the victim, showing up at places without a legitimate reason, waiting at places for the victim, leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers, [and] posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.”

            3. Uni Employee*

              I’ve been at colleges my entire career, and the only time I’ve seen someone’s actual e-mail address changed, she was a transperson who transitioned after being hired. I still have the e-mail address based off of my previous last name from when I was a student, well over a decade before I became an employee. No one here has ever known me by my old last name! For some reason, universities are really weird about adjusting e-mail addresses.

              1. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

                Yeah. The head administrator in my old department was “Jane Smith (jones@uni dot edu)”. When I first read posts on here about getting your work email address changed when you change your name, I was like “wait…companies do that?!”

              2. char*

                I’m glad they even changed it for the trans person. When I was in college, I couldn’t get the college to change my email address to reflect my chosen name – the most they could do was set up my chosen name as a redirect to my existing email. Any email I sent would still always show up as being from

            4. TootsNYC*

              that happens at my company. The email address is also all the logins, and it’s tied in to PeopleSoft.

            5. IT Anon*

              Unsure how it works in academia but in healthcare we’re legally required to use the name on medical licenses for an employee email account. If someone wants to go through the trouble of getting that documentation changed we are perfectly happy to change it.

        3. Editrixie*

          OP, first, I’m so, so sorry you’re having to deal with this. I changed my name in adulthood — first name only — though not for such a sad and frightening reason. I held out for a long time, just using my current name socially, but did ultimately decide to make the legal change after moving to a new state. The process varies, I think, depending on where you live, but I had to get a court order from my current state to get a new birth certificate from the state where I was born.

          What I’m getting at, I guess, is that your legal name can pop back into your life at any time — and I think if you do make the legal change, it would be at least somewhat less likely for your original name to follow you. I changed my legal name in part because when I moved here, I was forced to put a name on my driver’s license that nobody had called me for 30-some years. And then that name ended up on some medical records, library card, wireless account, etc.

          Just speaking from my own experience here; I hope you can find a way to get this to stop this without making a change you don’t want to make.

        4. Kathleen_A*

          Where I work has very rigid parameters re. email addresses, too, but if you’re insistent and persistent enough, you can get them to make exceptions. I know a Bob who really didn’t want to be “Robert” and another guy who always always always goes by his first two initials (e.g, “JR Ewing” rather than “John Ross Ewing.” It took time and effort to get IT to allow a “bsmith” instead of an “rsmith” and a “jrewing” instead of a “jewing,” but eventually it was accomplished. So, OP, if your current IT team tells you it’s impossible, maybe it is but maybe it isn’t, and in any case, just because it’s “impossible” there doesn’t mean it’ll be impossible at your new job.

          And good luck to you! My skin is creeping on your behalf!

        5. FellowLibrarian*

          In my experience in private universities (not sure about public institutions), you can be removed from the directory, so your name would not show up on the website or be searchable externally. This won’t help this current job, but in the next job if you can be private from the beginning it might keep the stalker from finding you.
          Also, as a fellow librarian, I’m sorry that others in the library field may not take the word “stalker” as seriously due to a larger-than-normal number of patrons who may get too attached. I think explaining as much as you can in the “why did you leave your current position” section of an application is a good idea, especially if you have only been at your job for a few months. You still want to make sure your cover letter explains why you want the job you are applying for but if your reason for leaving your current position is “I need to move cities because of a stalker”, I think that is legit.
          Good luck!

          1. Future Homesteader*

            Yup! I’ve worked with faculty who have a public following for one reason or another, and if anyone got too persistent for our comfort, we’d remove the faculty’s info from the directory and replace it with generic info (like a department email address and phone number). But you’re right, that was at a private school. Can anyone weigh in on public universities? You’d really think it’d be in their best interest to do that, as well. I’m currently at a public institution, and our police/security takes these things extremely seriously.

            1. Anonymoose*

              For my public univrsity, staff has to opt in to a full directory entry. For isntance, I just looked up a new hire and it shows her name, title and Grand Department, but not our actual unit name, nor any location info. She would have to log into the system and upload that data. that said, I bet if I raised hell, I could probably get her name removed altogether, thought because we’re on an active directory server system, she might be removed from our Outlook contacts. So there are some drawbacks, but safety should always be the most important item to consider.

              1. Anonymoose*

                Grand Department = the people who pay our paychecks and are our Grand Boss (think Dean level, and we’re below director level).

            2. Jessica*

              Public university here. We had a faculty member drawing attention from hate groups, and we switched his directory information to email only, so there’s a channel open for people who really do need to contact him, but we’re not publicizing his phone number or location so that people can find and harass him. Our campus police have been very supportive. I’m appalled by the response OP has gotten.

            3. essEss*

              I used to work in IT for a university and when we created the online faculty directory we had a flag/setting that allowed the entry to only be seen by logged in faculty so that it wasn’t on the public-facing directory.

            4. Annoyed*

              I had a NCO. Public university. They ghosted me right out of the directory as an employee and a student both. But…location, location, location. In Seattle they take it seriously. Maybe not so much in Podunk, USA?

            5. PB*

              I work for a public university. A colleague was able to opt out of the directory due to being stalked. I wouldn’t claim this is universal (public universities have a lot of disfunction, and each one is different), but it at least worked in her case.

            6. spocklady*

              I work at a public university. We recently moved the whole student/faculty/staff directory behind a campus-affiliate login, so you have to have an active ID from the institution in order to find people. This was for IT security reasons, I think (to cut down on bots being able to find email addresses to use in phishing) but it’s a great safety measure too.

              Also, despite being a librarian at a public institution, we are absolutely 100% able to ban certain individuals from the library, usually after a warning and due to pretty egregious offenses, but we can do it. We have banned people for being inappropriate with desk students, staff, and librarians. The ones I can think of off the top of my head have all been members of the public, rather than students, but I am…99% confident we can ban students (for instance, for smoking weed in the stairwells, or stealing laptops). I would think that ESPECIALLY since this “student” is only registered as a student so that he “can’t” be banned, someone in your reporting chain or at campus safety would be willing to say, “Nice try, buddy, but nah.”

              Tl;dr – I second the folks saying please consider taking this higher up the various chains of command, if you haven’t yet, and also being explicit that this continued stalking is making you consider changing jobs if they aren’t willing to do more to protect you. This smells strongly of institutional bullcrap.

              I am so, so sorry you’re having to deal with this. This is awful, and waaaaay beyond the worst that most public-facing librarians deal with. Sending you supportive vibes, OP.

          2. Oxford Comma*

            I believe you can have your named removed from the directories of some public universities as well.

            Can your campus police do anything? Waiting outside the workplace for one of our employees got someone banned from our campus.

        6. Lou*

          OP, is there a way for your employer (or a future employer) to set up a dummy address? That is, will still be your “public” email, but either someone else checks it, or you have some kind of rule that emails not from get forwarded to OPnewemail@uni?

          I used to work with someone, also at a university, who was being stalked by a student and this is what they did for that person. Their old email was still listed as public, but they created a non-public new email that the faculty member gave out to certain people who actually needed to contact them. That old email was also screened by the department admin who forwarded along actually important emails (and kept an eye out for any behavior escalation).

        7. Now Paranoid*

          If at all possible, I’d definitely recommend you choose a new name that cannot in any way be connected to your current name. Not a recognizeable nickname, not your middle name, I’d say not your surname either but if it really is that common, it might be OK. I had a similar situation to yours…although I wasn’t a voice actor or librarian…but at one job YEARS after I’d been there and thought I’d successfully “lost” the stalker, a whole bunch of emails, identical and clearly looking for me, came in to every variation of email address containing my surname this person could apparently think to try. I wasn’t in the directory. I don’t know how they even got a whiff that I might work there. They clearly weren’t sure if they’d found me. But IT had a system where any non-valid email address @ went to a special inbox for the network admin. Who happened to be a good friend of mine. And saw them all, clearly grasping at straws, no obvious threats, but what read like someone desperate to find me. It was creepy as all getout. After that he blacklisted not only the address that all came from, but also any address containing that person’s (not at all common) surname. So we basically had to do the same thing the stalker did, but in reverse to block them. They also instituted a policy that neither reception nor HR would confirm I worked there. At one point I had to manage a situation with HR to make a one-time exception to actually verify my employment when I was getting a car loan, but they knew which bank who to expect that call from and when. It was still horrible for me because I was half worried they wouldn’t confirm and I’d be screwed for my purchase or they would confirm and it would turn on not to have been the real verifier. If I’d wanted to start going by a completely fake name, and only have payroll have my real info, they would’ve been on board with that if I’d asked for it when I first started. I mention all this to say: good employers will want to help protect you from this crap and not hide behind a policy that makes you too publicly available when there’s a credible reason not to. Most reasonable people should understand that what you described is absolutely a truck full of red flags. I almost want to go as far as saying you shouldn’t want to work somewhere that won’t take this seriously, even if there haven’t been specific violent threats. I know it can feel really weird to bring all this up, but if you time it right and are clear, calm and straightforward (not necessarily needing alllllllll the details), whomever employs you should have a policy in place that doesn’t open you up to being found.

          1. lurker bee*

            I’m so sorry you went through this and hope our OP sees your comment. Thank you for your generosity in sharing.

          2. essEss*

            Choose one of the most basic common names – like Mary Smith so that even if he finds you once, it is difficult to keep finding you because of how many others of the same name exist.

        8. Rennie*

          I hear you on the weirdly inflexible email address rules of academia. There isn’t a good reason, except to be uniform and easily accessible. As shitty as it is that you have to jump through hoops because another person cannot respect your privacy, you may be better off legally changing your name. A middle name is easily found and someone that dedicated will certainly find out that your full legal name is Kathrine Samantha Smith if he doesn’t already know.

          That said, I would be trying to find anyone I could pester in IT to change your email address. It can be done, they just don’t want to do it because if they allow too many exceptions to the rule, then everyone is going to want to personalize their email address. And someone is actually going to have to physically sit down and do it. You have a damn good reason to have it changed, it’s not personal preference or caprice.

        9. LCL*

          I am so not in the world of academia. 3 years of college/trade school years ago, and the rest OJT. But I read the news. I think at your current job you should be talking directly to your school’s Title 9 compliance office. They also deal with harassment. I think they would want to know about a stalker that campus police are blowing off. Because the campus police botched the handling of this. They can’t bar a student from the library? BS. Institutions can always bar someone for conduct. And they told him your schedule!?

          1. Uni Employee*

            I AM in academia, and I agree. Title 9 ensures an environment free from harassment on college campuses, and this was epically mishandled.

            1. Suzanne*

              Yup – also in academia, and also agree. If you’re willing/able, report to the Title IX office. Stalking is covered by Title IX, and the fact that you’ve had to give your stalker your schedule is not… an acceptable resolution.

              (This is obviously assuming that your school is covered by Title IX – if it received any federal funding, whether public or private, it is).

              1. Anon Y. Mouse*

                I searched the page specifically for this to make sure someone had mentioned it.

                Many institutions are really beefing up their Title IX stuff with how much sexual misconduct is coming up these days in higher education news.

                I know at my institution they’ve emphasized that it’s NOT just about misconduct against students, and stalking is definitely covered (as others have mentioned). I know if you mentioned it to anyone here they’d be required to report it to the title IX office

            2. ErinW*

              Does Title IX apply to staff? In our last harassment seminar we were told specifically not to report concerns to our Title IX coordinator, but to our HR director. Even if the staffer is taking a course and was harassed in that context.

        10. Blue*

          You never know! I’ve worked at three universities (public and private, small and large, in multiple regions), and none of them dictated what your email alias could be. So at the last two, my email was just Firstname@uni – it’s a relatively rare name (and therefore available) and my last name is misspelled so frequently it was just easier to remove it from the equation. I’d hate for you to put yourself at increased risk of discovery only to find it’s unnecessary once you’re at a new institution. Good luck – I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

        11. General Ginger*

          Would they accommodate a trans person who hasn’t changed their name legally but socially transitioned and no longer uses their deadname? If no, then, ugh, they suck. If yes, then they should absolutely be able to accommodate you.

      2. Let's Talk About Splett*

        I haven’t worked in academia, but I have worked for companies who had a policy that you had to go by the name on your social security card for email, direct deposit, etc. I guess so the company could prove you weren’t getting hired with someone else’s identity?

        1. Alli525*

          A lot of colleges are moving toward “preferred name policies” in order to better welcome members of the community who are gender non-conforming or trans… I’m very cis but hate being called by my legal name due to its associations with a somewhat abusive childhood, and the college I work for has been good about it. I did get entered into the system under my legal name, so once in a while it pops up in an email or whatever, but mostly it has worked out.

        2. Observer*

          That’s nonsense. You don’t need to use the name on your SS card for email to prevent fraud. Anyone who claims otherwise is, at BEST, being lazy.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Such a relief to hear this. It always sounded like such BS to me, so I’m glad to hear that my instinct was correct.

            I mean, come on – there *have* to be exceptions in every single organization, no matter how rigid, and if there is any way to make an exception, someone being stalked has to qualify! If the president of the company says “I’m changing my name and I want my email addressed changed right now, even though the paperwork hasn’t gone through,” are the IT folks would say, “Nope. You have to wait until that new Social Security card comes through”? Of course not. And if they hire someone whose bitter ex is a violent offender currently in prison but due to get out in a year, are they reeeeeeeeally going to say, “Sorry. Your legal name is Wilhemina Q. Hossenfeffer, and the fact that it would take him, like, 8.5 seconds to find you is simply not germane to that holy of holies, our email nomenclature system”?

            OK, so “This crazy stranger has tracked me down to my work and *my* *home* several times now” might not set off as many alarm bells as poor Wilhemina’s situation, but it ought to set off a few. Some of these people clearly need an empathy infusion.

        3. Noah*

          But nobody has that policy without any exception. Otherwise you end up with people sharing email addresses.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        A friend of mine in academia, whose name was along the lines “Mabel Przstrlk”–familiar but out-of-fashion first name, last name hard to spell–was able to get into several academic systems as

      4. Totally Minnie*

        I know you don’t want to change your name legally, but if he’s finding out where you live by searching public records, you’ll still have your existing name on your lease and your vehicle registration. He may still find you if you don’t make the change official.

        1. Noah*

          A lease isn’t a public record. Vehicle registration is a public record but not available to the general public. I don’t have the impression this guy has an in at the DMV or anything like that.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              This happens in korean pop music – stalkers intentionally look to get hired at places where celebrities have to register – DMV, airport, utilities, cell phone companies etc. Then they either use the info themselves or they turn it into a side business and sell the info to others. It would not surprise me AT ALL if this exists in VA fandom as well.

              1. Julia*

                Now I wonder whether OP could find out her stalker’s job and if there’s any chance he’s misusing information gained through work.

              2. Utility employee here*

                OP, yeah, it might be possible he’s tracking you through other records. One idea – contact your local utility and ask to speak to a supervisor. Explain that you have a stalker and ask the utility to do a search on your records to see if any utility employee has been looking up your information when their job duties do not require it. Alternately, ask the utility to “flag” your contact info to ensure that the stalker cannot con it out of a utility employee.

                Most utilities take customer data security very seriously. Our system flags names (for example, athletes) and periodically checks their records to see if any employees are looking at the personal info “out of curiosity”. In my company, that is a one way ticket out the door.

            2. writelhd*

              I hate to be a debbie downer here, but county GIS, if you own your house, or voter records, can be ways to get found, too. If you move away, maybe he can’t figure out where you went, but then if the new employer puts your name on in their directory and that directory comes up on a google search of your name…he can figure out what counties you might be in based on employer location. So if they can’t agree to use a new name for all your employer-related public facing information, the legal name change might be the way to get the peace of mind. :( I’m sorry, it’s really stupid that people abuse public information this way.

          1. Coach Laura*

            In some states (e.g. mine – Washington) I can walk in to the DMV and, after showing my I.D., get the vehicle record/name/address of any license plate.

        2. crochetaway*

          Some states will allow you to register your car/lease your apartment in a trust. That would be a good way to hide. Form a trust, that is named something nothing to do with you. Then you can lease your apartment with it, register your car with it, etc.

          1. writelhd*

            you can do various types of contracts with trusts, sometimes. You can have a house deeded to your trust instead of to you. That might be worth researching more if you do end up moving for a new opportunity.

      5. Wendy Darling*

        One of my coworkers’ legal name is, let’s say, Lucian James Warbleworth, and he goes by Jim Warbleworth. But his email alias at our company is lucian_warbleworth and IT “can’t” (won’t) change it because that’s his legal name. Everyone is confused all the time because half the company doesn’t even realize his legal name is Lucian since everyone calls him Jim.

    4. eee*

      I agree–although actually, I don’t know how difficult it would be, but changing your last name might be a better bet? It would depend on how common your last name is. If it’s something like “Smith” or “Jones” or “Nyguen” or “Kim” it might not be necessary, but I do research where often I wind up having to cross check databases to try and establish whether one person is showing up twice under a different name or are two different people. Kimberly Alice Walker and Alice Walker would go on the “might be the same person” list, while Kimberly Alice Walker and Alice Jackson wouldn’t even get a second look from me. Now granted, I’m looking through this assuming that no one is trying to “hide” from me, but to me it boils down to this: if you change your name, you don’t want to have to do it multiple times. I have a lot of identity wrapped up in my very unique name, so I think it would be very painful to have to change it–but if I had to for my own safety, I would lean into it and go for something completely different. Think going from Kimberly Alice Walker to Sasha Freeman. I would be tempted to hold onto my roots by pulling from my extended family history, but given the lengths this disturbed man has gone to track you, I would avoid anything that he could use to make an educated guess. No maiden names, no other branches of the family, no “this was the pre-anglicized version”.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        That’s a good idea. I have a friend who wants to keep quiet on fb, so she goes by her mother’s last name there (her parents are divorced and she kept her father’s last name but her mom didn’t.) You could also use your mom’s maiden name, or a grandparents, if you’re worried about what your parents think of the change.

        1. Lily*

          I think it’s too dangerous to use her mom’s maiden name; this guy probably already knows it. Also, honestly, her safety is far more important than what her parents think. I would hope they’d agree with that too.

      2. MI Dawn*

        And, try not to keep the same initials. I’ve read that it’s really easy for searchers to find people even if they’ve changed their name because they almost always keep their initials the same. eee’s suggestion of a totally different name is excellent.

      3. Rennie*

        I hate to say I agree. I hate to say it because SERIOUSLY WTF why can’t this guy leave you alone????? What is wrong with people???

        I would take it for granted that he not only knows your full legal name but also the names of several of your family members. He clearly has far too much time and money on his hands (the following, the enrollment in your university, the endless gifts), so he could put two and two together and figure out that it’s you if you go with something like your mother’s maiden name. Another thing, since he knows what you look like, if your university posts employee pictures he could also find you that way. The academic world is small, so this is something to be aware of.

    5. Nita*

      This. Don’t use your middle name, and I think it may be best to legally change your name. This guy is persistent enough that half-measures will not help. As for the timing… would you be able to move to the new city, start the name change process, and until it is complete, not have any mail forwarding processed, or do anything else that will connect your old name and your new one? Maybe a friend or relative can pick up your mail in the meantime. And don’t tell anyone you’re moving, or where, unless you’re confident they can keep the information from your stalker.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I hope you lose this guy for good. I also hope he loses whatever source of income has given him all that free time to stalk you, and has to get working hard enough that he won’t have time to chase you.

      1. M*

        A lot of password security questions ask for mother’s maiden name, grandparent names, father’s middle name, so those should be ruled out in case the stalker decides to try hacking OP’s email or stalking family

        1. LQ*

          As a good note for things like this (and I totally agree that hacking into these accounts absolutely seems within the realm of this stalker) is to create a personal rule and use that. Like always spell things in pig latin (fairly easily guessable on it’s own), or spell it backward with the first letter dropped, or change all the s’s out for ^’s (rather than the s’s for $ which is fairly guessable) or mash several of those together. It lets you use those things but without having them be as hackable. Alternately? Lie. You can track your lies in a password manager or something. But absolutely lie. And this especially for places like electric company, phone company where you may transfer rather than have a brand new account.

        2. Anonyduck*

          My rule for those questions is to put in nonsense answers and save them in my password manager. Security questions are HORRIBLE security; either they’re easily searchable information like maiden names or pets (which is a hack waiting to happen), or they’re things like favorite foods that change over time. Why companies don’t switch to two factor authentication i will never understand.

          1. Whit in Ohio*

            Because 2-factor authentication is annoying even when it’s done well, and people are likely to lose the second factor. I agree that security questions are not really secure, but two factor authentication is too annoying to use for anything that’s not absolutely critical.

      2. Ginger Baker*

        One potential issue with legally changing her name is that you are frequently required to publish the name change as part of the process (this is so that, for instance, people avoiding arrest or child support payments cannot simply change their name and presto! no cops finding them anymore). It *might* be possible to get an exception to that (I’m no lawyer, so I don’t know) but IF that is even an option, I am sure it comes with a burden of proof to show that the stalking is serious enough to warrant an exception to the publishing rule – I’m guessing police reports, maybe testimony from the campus police and coworkers who witnessed, stuff like that.

        1. Dove*

          I’ve never heard of anyone having to *publish* their name change. Certainly the legal system needs to be made aware, for the exact reasons you mentioned, but nothing to the level of having to publish the change in the local papers or even make anyone aware of it if they don’t have good cause to need that information.

          Someone having to change their name to avoid a stalker isn’t so unusual, from the legal system’s perspective, that it should require stacks of evidence to prove that it isn’t safe for OP to publicize the name change.

          1. Hc600*

            It’s required in my state. OP should check out her states laws to see if it’s a requirement or not.

            BUT you only have to publish in your choice of a local print newspaper in very tiny font which isn’t indexed by google.

            1. animaniactoo*

              Yes, required in my state too. There are plans some day for me and my husband to actually share the same last name which is neither of the names we have now. Because we didn’t look into it and one of us get it done before we got married, we now have to do it as a two-part process. I have the easier version to do, and it does require taking out a notice in a public newspaper.

          2. Betty*

            I know someone who waited “too long” after she got married and had to go through a much more involved process that included publishing her name change (in her case, in the NEW YORK POST, which didn’t come cheap. And, ironically for this thread, got her a huge number of letters from prison inmates who apparently watch those ads as a hobby.) The idea is that it prevents people from stealthily changing their name to escape creditors— but obviously it overlooks some really good reasons to not publish it!

          3. Kate 2*

            It is required that you publish the name change in many states, in case you are changing your name to avoid debts or child support payments, crimes (sex offender list), etc. One such state is New York.

          4. Candy*

            In Canada, if you change your name legally you are required publish it in a local newspaper. It’s an old rule created so that people can’t change their names to avoid creditors, etc. However, people can apply for an exception if publishing their name change would cause significant harm to them. If publication is required in the States too, probably the waiver is available as well?

            1. Anna*

              That used to be the case in the US, too. I remember seeing them at the bottom of the classifieds section. I don’t know if it’s gone by the wayside. I think the idea was that if you were changing your name to avoid legal troubles (which was probably a common reason way WAY back in the day before it was easy to look things up online or get public records so easily), then the courts were giving your creditors or whomever a chance to catch up with you.

        2. Sirensong*

          There’s usually an exception to having to publish your name change relating to if it would pose a threat to your safety because of a violent relationship. When I changed my name, the judge didn’t make me prove it, she just asked if I was still in contact with the other person, when we last had contact, and approved the request to not publish. It’ll vary by state, but don’t assume that you have to go to great lengths here.

        3. AnonymousInfinity*

          My state also requires publishing the intent to change your name in the newspaper. A judge can waive it… BUT… I don’t know if a judge doing that would also make it so that the court filing didn’t appear in an online or in-person court records search. I almost think a young enough stalker could reasonably miss the fine print in a county newspaper – but they wouldn’t miss it an online court records search. And, unless the court’s file is sealed, anyone can walk in to a courthouse with a cause number and request the paper file with all the motions, affidavits, and rulings inside.

        4. Competent Commenter*

          Late to the discussion but when I had to publish a DBA name for my business as I had moved to a new county, I was freaked out because I’d recently taken in a foster child who was a friend of the family, and his violent father knew our names. I didn’t want the DBA with my name to hit the internet and be easily found. No one had any ideas for how to avoid it…but when I gave up and called the cheapest publication to pay the fee I learned that they weren’t yet online! They were just too small. Something to look into for folks in similar situations.

        5. Gatomon*

          Usually it does have to be published, but many states have exceptions if your safety is at risk. It’s usually an additional document you add when you file. The judge will either confirm or deny the request, and they will kick everyone else out of the courtroom when you have your appearance.

          OP I would change my entire name, first middle and last. Nothing similar or using the same initials, no maiden names from relatives either. Odds are he either knows that basic background info or can find it quickly. I bet geneology websites are great tools for stalkers.

    6. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Maybe a different spelling of your first name? Like Catherine/Katherine/Kathryn? That way what people *call you* doesn’t change but it’s harder to track you down.

      1. Dove*

        It’s a good thought, but I don’t think it’s likely to work with a stalker this persistent. He’s already shown he’s willing to move cities and enroll as a student at the university OP works at, to make it harder for her to avoid him. Not to mention the constant barrage of gifts, which required finding her home address.

    7. Vicky Austin*

      I would go with something completely different than your legal name. For instance, if your name is Miranda, go by Elizabeth.

    8. Annoyed*

      So much this.

      My mom always went by her middle name because she preferred it. However legally she was *Margaret* Susan. Ergo whenever someone … (pre internet btw)… looked for “Susan Greene” at X employer, Y school, Z address, etc., they found “Margaret Susan Greene,” because they were connected.

  3. Nicki Name*

    OP, as an anime fan, I am outraged that you’ve had to go through this. I hope that you come through it okay.

    As a library user, I’m kind of disappointed to hear that “everyone has had to deal with an overly-attached patron at some point”, too.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This is the second time I’ve heard that this field specifically doesn’t do a lot to help people who have security issues (even when related to their being at the public library, which sometimes attracts people who are mentally ill and therefore free during the day). Of course I’m not sure any field is great about this type of issue.

      1. Les G*

        Most fields don’t require (mostly women) dealing pleasantly with literally anyone who walks in, so.

        1. Kate 2*

          Some do though, tech helplines, waitresses, sales associates, cashiers, receptionists and secretaries, flight attendants (you do have to have a ticket at least, but the amount of crap they have to deal with is infamous), etc.

          1. heather*

            I think the only one of those fields that’s female dominated and fetishised in the same way as librarians is flight attendant, and the financial barrier to stalking them at work is prohibitive.

      2. YB*

        Librarian here. Yes, libraries are worse than you’d expect for this kind of stuff. a., predominantly female staff who b., are required to be polite to everyone who walks in the door and c., are in a line of work that a lot of people have conscious or unconscious assumptions about (both of the “timid little librarian, so meek and mild, I can walk all over her” variety and of the “sexy librarian who just needs a man to sweep her off her feet” variety).

        So, yes, libraries are a haven for situations like this…and situations where spurned would-be lovers start harassing staff…and, very common, situations where patrons behave inappropriately toward staff in less intense but still awful ways. How often does a full-blown stalking situation come up in the library? Far too often. How often does your average female library staffer get sexually harassed in a way that may not merit writing to Ask a Manager, but that you still wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy? Oh, five to ten times a day, every day.

        1. Rather Be Reading*

          Also a librarian. We’ve definitely had situations where you see a car pull into the lot and grab the walkie-talkie to say “HIDE MELANIE, HE’S HERE!” Some cities make it harder to ban people from public libraries than others, so sometimes a person will get too attached and we can have the police issue a trespass order, other times we just have to figure it out on our own.

          And the trend for having a badge with your photo and full name combined with the existence of social media has not helped with this problem at all. I know a guy whose long-term work stalker managed to find him on Facebook and start calling his personal cell number. Very not good.

          1. Like The City*

            I worked as a library page all through college…this is definitely a problem that does not get enough attention. I had an overzealous patron who would follow me everywhere to the point where I became the “Melanie” that had to hide when he came in. Finally, our evening “security” guard (I put security in quotes because he wasn’t allowed to do much of what would be considered security work.) put a stop to it. Escorted the guy out of the building, read him the riot act, etc. Patron still came to the library occasionally but finally stopped following me around. Still stared like crazy and spent an inordinate amount of time there but at least he left me alone after that.

            1. General Ginger*

              I sympathize, and same. I worked as a library page in high school and college. It was definitely a creepy and unwelcome problem.

        2. Librarianne*

          Also a public librarian. I’ve gotten threatening letters from an “overly attached” patron who happened to be my back-alley neighbor. He sent me a bunch of letters with poetry about young women being murdered. I called the police and was told “it’s poetry, not a threat.”

          I had a patron try to get in my car with me once. He’d spent the previous several months spending hours in the library, staring at me. I couldn’t get him banned for staring. I was moved to another branch for a month.

          Another patron shoved me into a bookcase so hard I had bruises down my side. The judge refused to issue a restraining order because I worked in a public building. So, yeah, nearly everyone in my profession, especially if they are young and female (and in my case, physically small), has similar stories.

          1. WellRed*

            I don’t suppose you had the time and energy to try and report the judge…somewhere. That’s insane.

          2. Lumos*

            I am not a librarian but I work in a public library. We’re generally expected to smile and nod unless a patron gets handsy. We have an officer preference to back us up, but unfortunately, someone other than me has to find it offensive before I can really do anything about it. Our code of conduct says we have discretion to say behavior is unacceptable, but in reality it doesn’t play out that way.

            1. Iris Eyes*

              I get that some people might see offense where there is none. But that should be an individually addressed issue when the pattern is made clear rather than that crappy policy of not trusting anyone to know what is or is not offensive.

        3. TootsNYC*

          plus there’s the whole “libraries are public places,” a world in which they ALREADY have trouble kicking out people who are unpleasant denizens of the library.

          1. Gatomon*

            Yep, the problem is that it’s a public place, usually run by a government agency that is basically required to provide equal access to everyone. A private business generally has the right to refuse service/kick someone out unless prohibited by law (like you can’t refuse service based on skin color). A library or government building generally does not have that luxury.

            I used to work in a public assistance office where someone threatened to blow up the building. This person had previously been removed by the police several times for behavior and threats to staff. Still was allowed to come and receive service because they were technically elligible.

            Personally I feel like abuse or stalking of employees and credible threats should be reason enough to deny service, but that’s not what the rule makers who sit in secured offices in the capital believe…

        4. Tiny Soprano*

          Fortunately for the two years I worked at a library we had an excellent manager, but that didn’t stop our annual library survey returning multiple answers of ‘yay hot librarians’ … ugh…

      3. Kelly*

        I work in an academic library in a city that has a significant homeless population. There are multiple individuals with some mental health condition that come in and not all are harmless individuals. The one that’s likely wouldn’t hurt anyone will go into our stacks and randomly pull books out and not re shelve them in their correct spots. He also routinely makes a mess of our new book display. That’s not behavior that will get him banned, but it creates more work for us as staff.

        We have one that comes in and has harassed female staff and students. He’s one incident away from getting a one year ban from all campus libraries. He accused one of our student workers of trying to put a hex on him.

        The attraction for some of these mentally ill and homeless individuals for our particular library is that we are the closest one that has open internet access that doesn’t require a university ID and password. Some of them likely have very limited public library privileges, allowing them building access but not internet access. So they know which campus libraries have computers without any passwords required, and will camp out. It’s less of an issue during the breaks when fewer students and researchers are around, but there were some complaints from members of the university community this year. They have every right to complain when they see people who obviously have no reason or affiliation on a computer using facebook or watching youtube videos. It’s a waste of their tax dollars and user fee money.

        We’re in the discussion stages of possibly replacing one table of PCs with some Macs that have some specialty software. I suggested that we go one step further and switch all but two of the remaining PCs to password protected computers. The two PCs would have catalog only internet access. My boss and one coworker, both women, are for it. The one holdout is the lone male who thinks that it’s too punitive and that it would penalize the non-university users who have legitimate research needs. Our response was they could obtain guest IDs if they do need more access. We already do that for people with no university affiliation who need wi-fi access for their laptops or tablets, so why not extend it to the desktop computers.

        1. Gatomon*

          I’m with you. Internet access isn’t a right. If your funding is tied to an academic mission, you have a responsibility to use the money for the mission.

          If you have the right networking gear, you could potentially throttle or limit social media traffic to a set amount of bandwidth. Maybe you allow up to 5% of your WAN bandwidth to be consumed by this traffic, and then it is dropped. Slow the web traffic of the campers significantly and they will be motivated to move on. Assuming most legitimate traffic is not to YouTube or Facebook, etc., it shouldn’t impact your researchers much and won’t require any computer logins.

      4. bookbot*

        When I was a librarian, our library had an isolated welcome desk where we were forced to sit for an hour a day to direct people to the bathroom or library departments because they refused to just put up a sign or map. For women it was one full hour of constant sexual harrassment and no one in managament cared. They would roll their eyes if we ever complained about it. They refused to install a panic button. Once a guy latched onto me at the desk and I was sending out mass e-mails to my department asking for someone to send security. No one responded. An administrator walked by and saw the situation, I looked at her with wide “help me” eyes and she literally shrugged her shoulders at me and walked out the door. This happened every single day. It was demoralizing. I loved librarianship but I had to leave because my mental health was so fried that I was crying on my way to and from work and could no longer function like a human in social situations. Two years out I have no idea what kind of job I’m qualified for now, because I can’t go back to libraries that are public facing.

        1. General Ginger*

          That’s awful. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that — and the horrible management.

    2. Mary Anne Spier*

      I’m a high school librarian but I’m in several facebook groups for librarians and most of the other members work with the public. It’s true that people post this topic a lot, from how to deal with the creepy guy who follows the teen volunteers around to what to do when patrons ask you (over and over) if you have a boyfriend or want you to provide your phone number or connect with them on social media, etc. It’s unsettling to be sure.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Ugh. I’m a big fan and volunteer with my local library. As a non-worker but a patron, if there anything we can do to help?

        1. LilyP*

          +1 to this question — anything patrons can do to make a difference with this? Complain to management if we see someone being inappropriate? Write the city council? Building a giant rocket to shoot all these creeps into the sun might take a lot of coordinated effort but I’m down if others are interested…

        2. Gatomon*

          Where I worked, us staff were trained to keep an eye out. If we were concerned, we’d come up and start working in the same area. Maybe remind the person of their “break” or “meeting.” With aggressive/angry people we would stand and observe silently nearby so that 1) the employee knew they weren’t alone and 2) could provide assistance/reinforce the message if needed and 3) could call the police.

          As a patron, my thought would be to hover, because creepers don’t like audiences, or interrupt and ask for assistance finding a book or something. The librarian would have to help and most people will yield and leave. You could also ask another librarian to call/page the person if they have a phone, perhaps? Anything that plausibly interrupts the situation and prevents access to the victim without really making yourself stick out.

    3. Jen*

      Anime fan checking in here. I’m so sorry, and I hope you know most of us aren’t like this. I know it doesn’t help.

      Also, thank you for helping to bring such an amazing culture to all of us here in America!

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    If you’re not already familiar with it, please read the Rebecca Schaeffer story. I say this not to scare you because of how it ended up, but because no one can find you with only your license plate number in the United States.

    I hope that fact gives you some comfort. Also please read the Gift of Fear. The Schaeffer case is discussed at length along with other stalking behaviors. It’s a fantastic resource for you.

    1. 5 Leaf Clover*

      Looking up the Schaeffer case led me to the stalking Wikipedia page where I learned that Illinois’s laws against stalking are particularly draconic… if you’re looking for places to live.

      1. Ice and Indigo*

        I believe California has pretty stringent laws as well, as a result of containing Hollywood?

    2. Liane*

      I have read about the case, in both Gift of Fear and one of John Douglas’s books* & from what I recall, it was this terrible story that helped changed laws/regulations so that DMV info couldn’t be sold.

      *one of the pioneering FBI profilers, if not THE pioneering profiler

    3. Thursday Next*

      I remember that case. It set a lot of wheels in motion, in terms of stalking awareness and anti-stalking laws. Really tragic.

    4. Cristina in England*

      Sorry, I’m confused. A commenter posted upthread that anyone in their state (WA) can get a name and address from a license plate if they show an ID at the DMV.

  5. DVA*

    Please contact a domestic violence organization in your area and ask them for help. As an experienced domestic violence victim advocate, your letter chilled me. Changing your name, even legally, leaves a trail. It will not be difficult for your stalker to find you. The DV advocates in your town can help you with safety planning and developing a strategy for talking to the police and campus security. Not all law enforcement fully understand the threat of stalking. The DV advocates can help.

    1. Le Sigh*

      I don’t know much about stalking laws, but I’m really bothered by how nonchalant university staff, cops, and others seem to be about this. The “fan” has followed her to multiple cities and workplaces. And while it sounds like they’ve taken some steps — and I get that a lot of what he’s done isn’t illegal — there seems to be a clear pattern of escalating behavior. What the hell? Could OP consult a lawyer?

      1. theletter*

        it really sounds to me like a letter from a lawyer or a restraining order ought to be tried before the name change and move.

        1. Let's Talk About Splett*

          I used to date a prosecutor who prosecuted mostly domestic assault cases. I called him because a friend of mine was being stalked by a girl he went on a few dates with. My ex-BF pointed out that while a restraining order is an option, some stalkers actually are happy about it because they get a chance to see the victim in court.

          1. Kelsi*

            Additionally, if I’m remembering correctly, getting an RO means the stalker will get the victim’s address so they know where they legally have to stay away from. Probably moot for the OP, since this creep already knows her address, but it’s something to be aware of when discussing restraining orders.

            1. Lynn*

              I’ve never written the protected party’s address on any of the hundreds of restraining orders I’ve drafted in New York.

              1. Kelsi*

                Thanks! It may be state or region-specific, I just vaguely remember reading about it awhile back in the legal advice Reddit.

        2. Spooky*

          I agree. Also – and I may be way, way out in left field here, so take this with a grain of salt – but would it be at all helpful to contact the local comic-cons and warn them that he has a long and well-documented history of stalking his favorite actors? It seems like he doesn’t get that his actions are unacceptable, and if a con denied him entry to protect their guests, it might drive the point home a little more. The benefits are A) it would potentially be more than just a slap on the wrist, so hopefully it would get through to him, B) it might protect other voice actors from receiving the same treatment from him, and C) if there are other actors who have gone through the same thing from him, it might get them to speak up against him as well. But I’d only do this if there’s no chance that stalker could find out it came from OP – I wouldn’t do anything to risk OP’s safety.

          1. Observer*

            If past history is any guide, a lot of the comic con organizers don’t give a flip about women’s safety.

            1. Quoth the Raven*

              Hear, hear. I work part time for the comic con in my city (not in the US) and we do take it seriously, but I am well aware of the stories in other places.

              It’s not just the organizers, either — it’s the public, too, a lot of the time. I am a woman, and I, along with other female staff members, have faced men who dismiss us, ignore our instructions, or who plain out harass us.

            2. Jules the 3rd*

              yeah – lot of work for very little likely return. I’ve been watching Cons as they change or don’t in response to people reporting harassment – most aren’t doing well.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            I’m going to agree and take it one step further – sic the fans on him. She has a fanbase. Make a public post to it that says “I am leaving and changing my name because of this guy stalking me. FYI, if you know him, please let him know that this isn’t acceptable.”

            Harsh? Yes. But maybe if he gets a taste of his own medicine he’ll back off.

            1. Ice and Indigo*

              I would STRONGLY advise against this. I understand the temptation, but:

              1. If OP ever has to take it to court, he could claim she was harassing him, or inciting violence, or who knows what. If nothing else, she’d almost certainly lose the judge’s sympathy.

              2. He isn’t necessarily the only worrying person who’s a fan of OP; you might wind up with him actually being murdered.

              3. He presumably follows her public posts; if he’s potentially violent, this is the kind of thing that could trigger an attack.

              4. Even if he isn’t, it tells him plainly that she’s changed her name, which gives him a new avenue of research and makes it more likely he’d find her again.

            2. Sciencer*

              I really think this could/would backfire. I’m imagining fans who have similarly poor boundary issues suddenly seeing themselves as white knights whose duty it is to protect the damsel in distress. Whether or not they do anything that changes the stalker’s behavior (and I doubt they’d be successful without getting violent, which is an escalation that should be avoided for OP’s safety as much as anything), they may begin to feel ownership over her or attachment to her that could bring a whole new suite of problem fans/interactions into her life.

        3. Naptime Enthusiast*

          If there’s a restraining order, doesn’t OP have to update her location so stalker knows where he needs to stay away from? And if she doesn’t update it the restraining order is invalid?

          My knowledge comes from Law & Order SVU so I could be wrong, but if police have so far been unhelpful I’m not sure that a formal restraining order will change things unfortunately.

          1. Stalking vic*

            In some locations, orders can continue in effect if there is verbiage that the address is confidential if she moves. It will be up to her to update the county that issues the order to keep it in effect, but they don’t have to tell the stalker where that is.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Restraining orders and having the police talk to the stalker often sound like the logical options, but one point Gavin de Becker makes in The Gift of Fear is that in some cases it emboldens the stalker — because they think “that’s the worst you can do? That’s nothing.” It’s really important that the OP talk with an expert on stalking to get advice on this aspect of things, because the safest thing to do in these situations isn’t always intuitive.

          1. smoke tree*

            Another point that de Becker makes is that any kind of contact or response to a stalker tends to encourage them, which can be pretty unintuitive as well. One example was that if someone continues to call you, it’s important to consistently ignore them. If you respond, even to tell them to stop contacting you, or to tell them you’re calling the police, it’s taken as a sign that their strategy worked.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I once was worried about a man who seemed to be following me, and when I talked to the police about it, they asked if I had told him to stop. Apparently that’s the first thing they suggest. Maybe this is a respond once and then ignore situation?

            2. Courageous cat*

              Yep, I have heard this phrased as such, which makes a lot of sense: “If they call you 225 times, and you pick up on the 226th to tell them to stop, now all they know is they have to call you at least 226 times to get you to answer.”

          2. Rosemary7391*

            But it isn’t the worst you can do? Surely the point of a restraining order is that there are consequences for ignoring it, including potential jail time? I think it’s like that in the UK at least. Although you still have to get the legal system to take you seriously which is sadly a non trivial hurdle.

            1. Anna*

              Many stalkers see it as a challenge. How do they get around the restraining order? How do they do it and prove they did it without being so obvious they get arrested? A lot of violence happens after a restraining order is issued, also. It can be the final straw that sets off someone who is unbalanced to begin with. Gavin de Boecker’s advice it to not go straight to a restraining order unless there’s really an indication that it will help. If a person isn’t willing to hear their victim’s no and respect it, why would they respect a piece of paper?

      2. DVA*

        I agree. Its part of the reason I recommend taking to an advocate. They do know the law and they also know how to fully explain the situation to law enforcement. If campus security will not act I also think that contacting a lawyer and a union representative (if OP is a union member) is a good idea. That campus security would recommend any plan that allows the stalker access to the OPs work schedule is horrifying. Its clear they either don’t fully understand the situation or do not understand stalking.

        1. Corrupted by Coffee*

          I work in a public library. A particular male patron was very persistent in demanding to know where I lived, what my schedule was, initiating bodily contact (insisting on multiple handshakes each conversation, which I tolerated until he kept hold of my hand, pulled it forward to drag me closer to him, leaned in and said “you’re a very sweet and beautiful girl” into my ear while still holding my hand up against him. Then he began to play a game, where he figured out my work schedule (because I wouldn’t tell him) and waited for me. Every shift. He’d ignore every time I asked him to stop or refused to tell him personal information. It was exhausting. I took it to my boss. My boss suggested I “just wasnt saying nofirmly enough.” Three conversations with my boss later, and the man was banned, so he started waiting for me outside the building in the parking lot.
          Anyway, solutions suggested for this were go move me to a different building and give him my work schedule, so he knew when not to come in. When I pointed out that this gave him where I would be and when and that he was already waiting outside for me, I was met with shrugs. I still have nightmares about handshakes.

      3. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

        Stalking is historically not taken seriously for about a million reasons that are petty, misogynistic, and sometimes fatal. So often it’s seen as a joke. Even if the guy DOES threaten her, the things the police will do are often minimal due to how un-seriously people take it. It’s…concerning.

        1. Annoyed*

          Well of course. He’s a “nice guy” and “in love” and she just needs to “give him a chance.” Screw what she wants.

      4. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’m really upset by this. I remembered that there was some big media coverage of changes in my country’s stalking law a couple of years ago to better protect victims (I remember that a big thing was that there no longer needed to be any threats involved, which I find highly reasonable), so I just looked it up and OP’s stalker would probably be sent to prison for up to three years (it also mentions a fine as an alternative but if I’m reading correctly, a victim’s having to move is considered severe enough that the penalty will be more than just financial).
        I know this knowledge doesn’t help you, OP, but really, this guy belongs behind bars and I hope you’ll see justice in the future. I’m so, so sorry you’re dealing with such a scary and untenable situation and wish you all the best!

      5. many bells down*

        Finding out your address every time you move and repeatedly sending things that you’ve said you don’t want *IS* threatening behavior and it’s so infuriating that (mostly) men don’t realize that. It’s saying “you can’t hide from me; I can find you wherever you go.”

        1. Jadelyn*

          THIS. I am completely baffled that anyone would look at a situation like this, someone who has tracked you down multiple times in multiple cities, followed you home from work, etc. and not think there’s any threatening behavior there. Gods, this makes my skin crawl with the level of persistence, the entitlement to be part of OP’s life that this guy is displaying. It is TERRIFYING. How can someone not get that?

      6. Emmeline CinderKlaus*

        Oh my goodness, right? I was ready to vomit blood when I read that campus security *suggested they give her STALKER her WORK SCHEDULE* rather than doing anything to inhibit him. What they asked her to do is not even close to fair, it was the worst idea they could have posited. Public spaces can bar patrons if they’re consistently disruptive, universities can absolutely bar students from campus buildings and resources. All the police/security did just put it back on the the OP to manage, it’s classic victim blaming (what did you do to deserve it, well you can just avoid any spaces THEY’LL be *sigh*). Stalking in and of itself IS the threatening behavior…it doesn’t matter if they haven’t become violent (yet). Refusing to listen to the direct requests of the OP is already threatening enough, the continuation of the behavior is incredibly aggressive, even if seems like he’s ‘being nice’ and ‘giving gifts’ to an outsider’s perspective.

        ‘Nice’ things aren’t actually nice if the person on the receiving end doesn’t want it and explicitly states as much. (rant over, this letter really hit a nerve for me)

        OP please listen to your gut on this, if you feel strange or get a bad vibe don’t ignore it. Keep reporting him, biiiig second on contacting Domestic Violence advocates. If there are actual stalking laws in your area they’ll be able to help you coordinate with law enforcement. Continue refusing any delivery you can, immediately dispose of anything you can’t refuse somewhere outside your home. Alert people in your workplace.
        Especially HR, your direct manager, security, and immediate coworkers you trust; let them know what’s going on and what you’d like them to do if he shows up or they see him somewhere (show them a picture if you can). The added visibility will make it harder for him to operate easily. I realize you’re looking to start a new job, but if you currently have a few coworkers or friends you trust, clue them in so they can let you know they see him around the building or places you’re at. I hate to suggest it, but it might be worth downloading a personal safety app on your phone. There’s a bunch of free ones you can use to alert trusted people about your plans, location and needs quickly if needed (bsafe, circle of 6, and Guardly are just a few I can think of top of my head)

        I’m so sorry you have to deal with this, none of it should be on you to fix and I really hope moving combined with the name change will see the issue done.

        I’ve been stalked myself, if it weren’t for my coworkers at the time coming up with aggressively proactive strategies to help keep him away from me at all times…well, I know what would have happened because it did happen to another woman working at a business next door when he finally snapped and assaulted her outside the building (thankfully she was OK, he grabbed her arm and was trying to manhandle her towards his car when some passersby intervened and stayed with her until the cops came and arrested him).

        1. Rennie*

          It’s insane that stalking isn’t taken seriously. It’s considered a “low level” behavior, and honestly I can’t think why. It’s predatory on the most basic level. Lions stalk their prey too and if you were on the receiving end of that, you wouldn’t be thinking “meh, no biggie”. No, the lion hasn’t gotten you yet, but the key word is “yet”.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Because the vast majority of stalking victims are women. And the vast majority of people who make the laws are men.

            1. Rennie*

              *sigh* I know. I was more thinking along the lines of “logic” than the warped crap women have to put up with all the time. Which is not logical.

      7. MechanicalPencil*

        I had a similar issue. Until I had physical proof, all they could say was ‘well that sucks for you, just keep a log’. Which yes, that’s exactly what I would do. Keep a log of all instances of interaction and the many, MANY steps you’ve taken to avoid this person. In my state, there’s a difference between harassment and stalking, though confusingly, the legal definition of stalking includes harassment. It’s splitting hairs, but the gist is that stalking includes threats whereas harassment is just annoying af.

        1. Plonit*

          +1 to keeping a log. In my state, if you want to get a restraining order you need proof of what the person did, and I bet it would help in other legal scenarios. Log everything, take pictures when he shows up where you are, save any creepy notes from the gifts. If you get assistance from security, try to include the name of the guard in the log. Documentation makes it harder for others to dismiss the pattern of behavior.

      8. Dove*

        I’m also bothered by how nonchalant university staff and cops seem to be about this, especially since OP keeps (!) getting told that the police can’t do anything until the stalker starts making threats (!!). Because that’s just not true.

        OP should DEFINITELY consult a lawyer who specializes in DV and family law, because the police are trying to avoid having to do their jobs here. The stalker is harassing her, and it doesn’t matter if *normally* it’s perfectly legal for someone to enroll at the university she works at and show up in the library there, nor does it matter if it’s normally perfectly legal for someone to send gifts to her workplace or her home residence; it stops being legal when it becomes harassment.

      9. Youth Services Librarian*

        With the university’s behavior, I would be worried that even if you change your name and move far away, the university will just tell him “oh she doesn’t work here anymore she’s at X library.” and then he could easily find out who you are again.

    2. OP*

      I hadn’t considered a domestic violence advocate, but I will definitely look into it. This stalker has never made a violent threat, and the notes he sends with the flowers are things like “I miss you” and “Please come back” (I no longer do voice acting). When I’ve shown these to police, they assume the man is an ex-boyfriend and will eventually lose interest. It’s been really challenging to convince law enforcement that I don’t know this man personally.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t have thought about a DV advocate either but they have unique expertise regarding this stuff. Restraining orders may or may not help according to Gift of Fear, which was recommended above and below several times, I’m sure. If you have not read it, it’s much less alarmist than the title implies. It’s not a perfect book, but provides some excellent insights in how these cases might go.

        I had an ex stalk me and because it was interstate, I basically just had to deal with it (until cell phone companies got their act together on being able to block calls, which is more recent than it should ever have been.)

      2. Former DV advocate*

        Yes, I definitely suggest getting in touch with a DV agency in your area! Since you’re planning to relocate anyway, you might also want to consider finding out which areas you’re considering moving to have stronger stalking laws. DV agencies in your current location and your potential location should be able to point you toward information on that.

        1. Former DV advocate*

          Also, following up with a generic piece of advocate’s advice: keep a log, with dates and specifics, including any witnesses. As you know, the disturbing nature of your stalker’s contacts aren’t the specific content, but the persistence. It is much easier for a judge or a law enforcement officer to understand the nature of your complaint when you can say something really specific like, “In the past six months, he has come to my workplace eight times. Each time, he was asked to leave and not to return.” Although it shouldn’t be on you to make your case, it can help you get results if you can.

      3. Anon for now*

        Have you considered contacting the office of student conduct (or whatever they call it at that particular university)? While the police cannot ban a student from using the university library, often the administration can. He could even be expelled for harassing a staff member. I am not sure what your university would be willing to do, but it is worth filing a charge with them. This is entirely different from filing a charge with the university police. Stalking you most likely violates the university code of conduct.

      4. Frankie*

        Yeah, this definitely falls under the DV umbrella because although he has not “explicitly” threatened you, he is knowingly crossing boundaries, attempting to control you, and making you feel unsafe. It’s all the same spectrum, just different points on it (not to falsely equate any situations). So they’ll have a lot of good advice for you.

        Universities have certain protections for, say, celebrity students or others who may need total privacy. You’re not a student, but you could look at some of the protections offered to them to see if you can convince someone higher up that you need different from standard treatment. Don’t let others’ ignorance (or “it’s policy”) stand in the way of your safety.

        Sorry folks aren’t taking this as seriously as they should. Do what you need to to keep yourself safe and don’t ignore your instincts. So sorry for everything this has caused you.

      5. caligirl*

        So so sorry about this whole terrible situation, OP!
        Another resource that is in the UK, but still is a great site with relevant info to check out, is called Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service. It was started by Laura Richards, who is an amazing person and advocate for dv victims. I didn’t see any US referral links but it is still worth a look! The “Advice for Victims” page has practical steps and things we can all do to protect ourselves.

        Take care of yourself and stay safe!!

      6. Le Sigh*

        How many ex-boyfriends don’t “lose interest” and instead get worse? Even if he was your ex-boyfriend, the contact is unwanted and has always been, and for a long time. And plenty of ex-boyfriends *have* escalated to overtly threatening behavior and violence — it’s not exactly unheard of. This logic makes no sense and it’s making me batty. It frankly sounds more like cops and staff who don’t want to be bothered.

        You have clear evidence that this guy has harassed your for years. Even if it’s not overtly threatening, it’s still threatening — he won’t leave you alone. You don’t want contact, and not only will he not stop, he’s then stepped it up to registering for a class. He may not be making overt threats but his presence is threatening, whether he views it that way or not.

        Sorry, OP, I know you know this, it’s just…this logic is insane.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          Right? Its not like we didn’t just have a school shooting where a guy was (allegedly) spurned by his “object” and then killed 10 people and wounded 13 others. And honestly, as much as people are fed up with deaths involving firearms the VAST majority of them are DV related.

      7. nnya*

        ugh ” It’s been really challenging to convince law enforcement that I don’t know this man personally.”

        i got that when I was in my early 20s and single. I forgot to lock my apartment door one day, a stranger let himself in when I was sleeping, started stroking me while whispering “shhh…it’s ok”. Screamed bloody murder and he ran out.

        Cops who interviewed me asked several times, each time more insistent “Are you SURE you don’t know this guy?” .

          1. nnya*

            It gets better …er worse

            The day i moved out, my neighbor came over and said he was glad I was moving out because he saw a guy peeking in my windows several times. He said he called the police and assumed they told me.

            Of course at the time there was a police sarge working who turned out to be a serial rapist. Always wondered if there was a connection or maybe a “say, what do you think about investigating this one Jeff?” and getting back a “nah, she probably knows the dude” in the donut room

      8. CustServGirl*

        It is beyond infuriating that the police are CHOOSING not to believe you when you say your stalker is a stranger and not an ex (not that one is better, but just that the general dismissive attitude is so wrong).

      9. Anonforthis*

        OP, this is awful, I’m so sorry, and I’m so sorry that people who should have been protecting you have failed you so abysmally.

        I also work in DV, and I’d recommend Gavin de Becker’s Gift of Fear. de Becker is a security consultant who specializes in stalking and domestic violence and we refer clients to his book quite often.

        It is grossly unfair that you should give up your job and upend your life again, and there’s no guarantee that this person won’t find you again, unfortunately. I might recommend working with a security consultant and a lawyer, because what the campus security is doing is not at all acceptable.

        1. AsIsIt*

          I would go so far as having an consultation with Mr de Becker’s company. They can give advice on ‘disappearing’ legally.

      10. Anancy*

        I’ll just echo that contacting a DV agency is a great idea. They know all the ways to keep yourself and your information hidden, and other ways to keep yourself safe. They may even have an advocate willing to help you talk to your work and security about ways to keep you safe. There are a lot of nuances specific to stalking behaviors, and if you are in a big city there is bound to be an expert out there to help.

        1. Anancy*

          Also, if you are relocating areas, they can help you find out which areas have better (or worse) stalking laws or protections, which may help you decide where to land. I am sorry you are dealing with this.

      11. Liane*

        Several experts point out that a lot of the things stalkers do are things that won’t seem creepy, much less threatening, to anyone but the victim who is most likely the only person who gets the full context of the interactions. For example, one of the things Richard Farley did to Laura Black early on was leave buttered blueberry bread at her desk in the mornings at work. (This is straight out of De Becker’s account in Gift of Fear.)

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          I know! I can’t believe the police think that makes a difference!!! And even if he was, he’d be an ex for a reason!!

          OP, I am so so sorry you are dealing with this.

  6. henrietta*

    I’d recommend a book: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Gold standard for dealing with stalking.

    1. OP*

      I actually bought this book over the weekend! I was reading old posts on this very site, and Alison had recommended it. I’ve read the first two chapters and I can already tell it will be a really helpful resource.

      1. Amber T*

        Having not read it myself but have read a million reviews of it – skip or take the domestic violence section with a grain of salt, where de Becker leans heavily on victim blaming? That seems to be the general consensus from a lot of what I’ve read, but I’ll let others weigh in.

        1. gecko*

          de Becker’s position is essentially that several models of DV are fatalistic and cast the victim as a powerless non-agent, while he chooses to emphasize that a victim of DV still has agency and can leave their abuser. Sometimes it could come off as victim-blaming instead of empowering, always a consequence of emphasizing personal agency instead of external forces. I found that I believed in his empathy enough to sort of acknowledge that I thought he was only talking about part of the picture but that he was coming from a place of knowledge and compassion nevertheless.

          1. SavannahMiranda*



            Have read the book, have implemented it, and have helped others implement it. Each reader has to take what they need and apply it as they need it, with their own discernment.

            de Becker does emphasize personal agency, but within a framework of what the most effective actions to take are. He doesn’t want anyone flailing around and feeling enraged and helpless as almost all of us do when confronted with this kind of horrible behavior, and making things worse. He wants his readers focused and empowered.

            He also does a good job of cultural critique. Dissecting the aspects of our cultural legacy that make men think it’s okay to relentlessly pursue a woman, and that tell women there’s nothing that can be done, or that they should give up or give in (even subconsciously). He takes all of that apart and exposes the unhealthy messages we transmit to young girls and boys like its in the air we breathe and the water we drink.

            The cultural critiques are not earth shattering. A good, healthy dose of critical awareness about popular culture already reveals many of them. But he puts it together into logical arguments that help underpin the totality of the book.

            It’s quite a revealing book and an actionable book.

          2. BF50*

            Having laid out his personal history, it read to me as anger at his mother, that was then spreading to all victims of DV, without taking into consideration situations that would make it difficult for victims to leave abusive situations. First he says it’s a victim’s choice to be in an abusive relationship, then a few sentences later he says that most victims who are murdered by abusers are killed after they leave. Also didn’t like the tone of the first chapter where he went into all the ways “Kelly” did not protect herself without laying out ways she could have responded. (i.e. if she listens to her gut that the guy is not ok, she doesn’t let him in her apartment, but she is still in an empty stairwell with a murdering rapist.) That also read as victim blaming to me.

            There was very good advice in the book, but there are also significant flaws that many seem to gloss over. Some of that may be a product of the time. The book is 20 years old and I think most people are more aware of victim blaming now, even though they still do it.

      2. MindoverMoneyChick*

        When it comes to stalking, I think Gift of Fear is flat out the best, most informed, actionable advice you can get. Some of it is counter-intuitive (like don’t get a restraining order, who knew?) but it makes perfect sense in terms of psychology and extinguishing unwanted behaviors. The less attention of any kind you can give this guy, the less you will reinforce the behavior.

        So just add me to the list of people recommending that book. Fortunately your not in a DV situation so the controversial nature of that chapter doesn’t impact you in this case.

      3. Ice and Indigo*

        Another book you might want to try is ‘I Know You Really Love Me’ by Doreen Orion. You’d have to get it second hand, but there are copies available, and it’s the account of a psychiatrist who was stalked by a (female) patient. She did a lot of research into the subject. It was published in the late 90s, so it may be outdated in some ways, but there’s still a lot of good stuff in it, and she articulates the stress and frustration in a way that might feel validating/be useful when trying to persuade others to take this seriously.

  7. Cait*

    OP – I have no idea if this is valid advice, but is a cease & desist letter an option to start a legal trail? You would need to talk to a lawyer to see if this would help you. This guy has followed you and sounds like he is escalating (registering for a class?!)

    If you rent, can you get a PO box somewhere else so your mail doesn’t come to where you physically live?

    In terms of work advice, I’m sorry to hear stalking is so “common” among librarians, that’s really scary.

    If you do get a new job, you usually have the option of “approving” your email address or requesting a format (think: Bob instead of Robert). Maybe that would be an option so you’re still applying with your name, etc but publicly it would be different?

  8. Turtlewings*

    I work in an academic library myself, and I’m a little baffled that the school won’t ban him from the library. Yes, he’s a student. He’s also STALKING a member of the staff! It ought to be quite transparent that he only became a student in order to facilitate his stalking, but even if it wasn’t, giving creepy and unwanted attention to a staff member after being told to stop is a 100% valid reason to ban him from the library. Oh, you needed the library for your studies? Whoops, shouldn’t have been a creep, then! Byeee!

    (In fact, my predecessor in this position was fired for creepy, obsessive behavior toward one of the professors. And when he tried to sign up for classes as a way of getting access to her again, they denied him and banned him from campus. I hate to tell you this, OP, but your bosses could definitely help you with this if they actually wanted to.)

    1. HigherEdPerson*

      OP, please please contact the Office of Student Conduct and talk to them about your options here. If not them, then the Dean of Students.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Agreed with both above. Unless your university is completely bassackward, they should be putting a hard stop to this. HR, Dean of Students, police should all be on your side in this.

      2. Anon for now*

        I second this. The university has the ability to ban this student from the library at the very least. At most they could expel him and ban him from campus. I have seen this happen.

      3. kbeers0su*

        I came on here just to say this. I work as a Title IX Coordinator for a university. If you work for a university receiving any federal funding you have protections from him because he is a student. Contact whoever handles Title IX stuff there (which may also be your Dean or conduct office) and report this immediately. Bring copies of everything you can- emails, letters- and a log of everything that has occurred. They should also help connect you with local advocacy folks and local PD. Sometimes when you get someone who is used to doing this work in on the case they can get PD to pay attention (as it appears other PDs you’ve talked to have brushed this off). Don’t rest until someone helps you- this is Not. Ok.

        1. emilyspinach*

          YES. I was about to say all of this. If he’s enrolled as a student, this moves to a whole different category. Please contact your Title IX and Student Affairs people immediately, OP!

    2. Le Sigh*

      Agreed. I made a comment below about how this seems insane to me. It’s 2018! We long ago established how dangerous stalkers can be. He has a clear pattern of escalating behavior! And yet school staff seem to be all, “eh, what are you gonna do except provide him with your WORK SCHEDULE so he ‘avoid’ you?”

      1. Stinky Socks*

        Right?!?? The majority of letters on AAM either leave me bemused by the weirdness of humanity, or edified on the proper way to handle sticky situations. This one just has me jumping out of my skin.

    3. Stinky Socks*

      I was coming in to ask why, for starters, they can’t ban the stalker from campus going forward. There’s nothing that requires the school to keep permitting him enrollment. Holy shit.

      1. Guy Incognito*

        That’s the thing I don’t get. I work for a college campus. There are several resources to identify this, including your local Title IX office (mandatory training for all employees is required in most states), and no matter what it’s called, there is an At-Risk student office that you can use to report him.

        None of this is to blame you, OP. This is horrible. I just know that even if you’ve been to the police, there are other on-campus resources, especially if he enrolled in class.

        1. HigherEdPerson*

          My guess is that the right hand isn’t talking to the left. Not all employees/faculty/admin understand the pieces of Title IX and student conduct.

      2. Anon for now*

        The police cannot ban him from the campus. The university can. The office of student conduct would be where to go.

    4. Let's Talk About Splett*

      I used to work for a city dept, and the city libraries could ban for certain behavior.

      1. HigherEdPerson*

        Also, OP, this person is now a student, which means they are beholden to the Student Code of Conduct. If they break that code, they have to face the consequences from a university perspective. This is why I strongly encourage you to access all resources at your disposal on campus.

    5. Justme, The OG*

      OP, I would also make sure that you have restrictions on what information of yours is available through your university’s computer system. My University calls it a FERPA 3rd party release, and I can set mine up so that no University employee may release any information about me to anyone other than me, and it must be in person while I am showing them my identification card.

    6. OP*

      Yeah, this has been super frustrating and the responses I get tend to vary from job to job. At Job A, the campus police started walking me to my car at the end of my shift and my supervisor allowed me more time in my office and off the front desk. At Job B, as soon as I reported to my director that this man was coming into the library (and explained the backstory, of course), my director immediately had campus police trespass him. He actually left me alone for a good while after that. Now at Job C, because he hasn’t “acted out” or made “inappropriate comments,” he hasn’t been banned. And while he has my work schedule, it doesn’t include my specific schedule (so he knows I work on Monday from 8-5, but not which classes I’m teaching that day or whether I’m working the desk). It’s not perfect, but he hasn’t come in while I’m working which has been nice.

      I will definitely talk to the Title IX coordinator and Dean of Student Affairs on campus.

      But to be honest, the thing I most want to stop is him finding my address. I assume he’s following me home. I try to be vigilant, but it gets exhausting. Purely judging by his appearance, I think this man has limited financial means. So I’m thinking the best way to keep him from finding me is to move far enough away from “Gotham City” that he couldn’t come to campus to follow me home. I hope that makes sense.

      1. HigherEdPerson*

        It definitely makes sense. I hear you, 100%. I’m glad that you’ll go to the Title IX coordinator and Dean of Students. This will start a paper trail, which is going to be helpful when talking to police, too. They deal with stalking on campuses frequently, so they can help you work with police, too.

      2. kbeers0su*

        Yay! I commented above before seeing that someone else had mentioned the Title IX coordinator. Glad to hear you’re reaching out. I hope they’re as helpful as they should be.

      3. IANAL (but I watch a lot of true crime)*

        This is out of left field, but is there any way you can take your lease/mortgage/whatever out of your own name, so you won’t show up on property records? Maybe form an LLC or something and have the LLC rent/purchase the property? You’d have to consult an attorney who specializes in this stuff to make sure it won’t be traceable to you, but if criminals can do it to avoid civil forfeiture, I don’t see why you couldn’t do the same to protect yourself from a stalker.

        1. FD*

          Piggybacking off that concept, LLCs have to have a registered office address that can accept service letters (like if you get sued, for instance) and that service address is on public record. However, for a modest fee, you can pay a company (or a lawyer) to be your registered address.

          You might still have to sign a personal guarantee for a lease, for instance, but that might make it harder to locate you.

        2. anonamii*

          I know that if you own a property, at least in my state, you can put it into a trust so that anyone searching ownership will only find the trust name.

      4. Good luck*

        Also recommend living in a gated (secured, staffed) community if possible. In my Gotham City (ok, Atlanta) many affordable communities of either apartments, townhomes or single-family homes are secured at least with a code-only gate, if not a staffed guardhouse.

        1. A Nickname for AAM*

          I live in a complex with resident-only gate access.

          We have a problem with break-ins from a) pedestrians “tailgating” in behind people or vehicles using the resident-only gate and b) smaller pedestrians crawling in under our vehicle gates.

          The gates are a deterrent, but they’re not perfect.

          1. DArcy*

            I live in a multi unit condo complex and work for a security company that specializes in condos. The best way to crack down on tailgating is to “sell” the HOA on a strict policy that residents are financially responsible for any damage caused by people they let into the building, because it’s just about the only way to make *residents* consistently care about tailgating as opposed to thinking that is “security’s job”.

            The difference in tailgating rates between our clients which have such a policy and those which do not is night and day.

      5. Betty*

        One other office to keep in mind in OEEO (Office of equal employment opportunity)— on my campus, title ix office covers student concerns and oeeo covers faculty concerns. Since this crosses both, it might be good to get the machine in process in as many places as possible.

      6. sam*

        He could be getting your address out of something as simple as a phone directory/phonebook.

        I know people don’t really “use” those anymore, but if you have a landline, unless you specifically request (and pay for!) an unlisted number, the phone company still publishes your name/address/telephone number in a giant book that it gives out for free*.

        *these days mostly publishes online.

        1. TootsNYC*

          not to mention cable tv records, etc. Registering to vote–all sorts of things float into those google searches.

      7. SophieL*

        Never assume these types won’t throw up a GoFundMyBadDecisions to get their equally gross and weird friends to help pay for him to “relocate to be near his love.” I’m not kidding. I’ve seen some crazy GFMs out there…and I’m not even in any of the hardcore traditional geeky fandoms….

      8. heather*

        OP, I’m loathe to recommend anything else that costs you money but have you considered talking to a private detective? They might be able to give you some ideas about how he’s finding you so often.

        1. OP*

          You know, I actually have a colleague who used to do PI work. That is an excellent idea. Thank you!

    7. More Than One Me*

      Yes, this was my reaction too: The U is being weirdly passive about this, and it might be worth reaching out to their Affirmative Action Officer or whatever that school calls the HR staffer in charge of non-discrimination efforts. It sounds like OP likes her job, and if that’s the case, then she could ask the school to make her workplace safe — by some means that do not involve her giving her work schedule to her stalker!

  9. Violaine*

    I have some experience with this and legally changed my first name a decade ago. I am established in my new name, but when the inevitable question comes up, I just state that I had a legal name change a number of years ago and can provide documentation of it as necessary. It’s never been an issue with HR or hiring managers, and very few have asked for explicit details.

    I wish you all the best of luck, OP. I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

    1. OP*

      Thank you! It’s good to know that a full legal name change wouldn’t be a huge problem in getting hired somewhere new. I’m hoping to avoid getting to that point because my parents really love my name – I won’t go into details, but both my first and middle names have special significance for them. But if it comes to it, I may ask them for input on a new one.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Even if you do end up going the full legal name change route, they can still call you by your birth name (obviously, you already know this, but it could be a comfort to them if this feels like a blow).

        1. Ambpersand*

          Agreed. I would also add that changing your legal name would make your life a whole lot safer (just because your stalker hasn’t been violent yet doesn’t mean it can’t or wont happen), and that should outweigh any sentimentality. If your given name is really that important to you/your family, OP, could you work it into your middle name while changing your first/last? Then it wouldn’t show up on any professional documents that could be easily tracked. Could you potentially change your name back in several years when this guy finally gives up and loses track of you?

        2. Iris Eyes*


          This is blunt and not polite but if you decide to change your name and you get a lot of push back from your parents you might point out that the only way they might be seeing your name is on a grave stone if you don’t take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

          I’m so terribly sorry that these things are something you might need to think about. I really admire your persistence and advocacy for yourself. I would be tempted to hide away or go into a different field where it would be less likely to be an issue.

      2. BRR*

        Even if you go by a new name professionally, it is relatively easy to track someone down by their legal name. I imagine there are resources out there with steps to help lose a stalker. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      3. Nita*

        Awww, it is so awful that he’s also taking that from you. But your parents can keep calling you by your old name. My grandma and her sister both have different legal names than what the family calls them, and it really doesn’t bother anyone other than having to remember the legal name when talking to someone in a more “professional” capacity – say, a former co-worker, or one of their doctors.

      4. Safety First*

        OP, Mustache Cat commented this waaaaay down, but on the off chance you’re notified by email by direct replies–they recommend not posting any further details about what you plan to do, since this post might end up circulating in fandom circles.

      5. Larina*

        OP, I didn’t get a chance to respond yesterday, but I wanted to let you know that depending on the state you live in, it can be incredibly easy to find your address if someone knows even part of your legal name.
        Where I currently live (NC), a clever person can search voter registration rolls online and easily find someone’s address. I know you don’t want to change your name, and I don’t want to be alarmist, but it is possible that the stalker is accessing public records in some way to find out where you live. Changing your legal name might be a good first step towards getting away.
        I’m so sorry that this creep is doing this, and I hope you’ll get some peace from this guy soon.

  10. Bigglesworth*

    OP – I am so so sorry that you are going through this. Stalkers are crazy scary and, as someone who has a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend, I remember what it was like to be afraid I’d see him around corners, in my building, etc. I don’t have any advice, but please know that I wish you all the best and hope this gets resolved very very soon!

    1. Lyka*

      OP, I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      Bigglesworth, I was actually wondering about a restraining order in this instance. For those in the know, is that an implausible step here?

      1. Emmie*

        It’s usually not implausible. OP should decide if she wants to pursue this. Some victims are concerned that the retraining order or personal protection order would aggravate the stalker and make it worse for the victim. If OP decides not to pursue one, it is important to trust her judgement regarding her own danger assessment and do not berate her. It can provide legal protections and consequences for the continued stalking. It can also be extra support to push the employer to provide extra protections. I feel like this employer could create some additional liability for themselves if they ignore OP’s valid concerns.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Exactly this. I don’t think it’s an implausible step for OP to take and would be worth researching if nothing else. I had to reach my decision after considering what would happen if he decided to not obey the restraining order (would he come after me in some fashion [physical or sexual violence were my primary concerns], were there social implications with our mutual friends, and so on). My ex was fairly compliant once the authorities got involved (even if he ignored my explicit instructions to leave me alone). However, not everyone is so lucky. It’s definitely something to look into, though.

          1. Emmie*

            I have an ex who stalked me in a minor way compared to OP. I chose not to pursue it because of the danger assessment, he was affiliated with the local courts, it would impact me professionally in ways I didn’t want at the time, and it would have been a major mental setback if I was not believed. But, this is not the right choice for all.

          2. Bigglesworth*

            Here are a few links that may prove useful for OP and others dealing with stalking:

            Stalking Resource Center –
            Stalking Risk Profile –

            Also, the book “The Gift of Fear” was beneficial for me. I know others here have also read it and I recommend it to everyone who expresses issues with situations like this.

      2. Yorick*

        Well, it depends. Judges are sometimes reluctant to order them if there’s not a clear possibility of violence.

        1. Yorick*

          And even past violence isn’t always considered evidence that there’s a current threat, for some reason.

  11. I Love Thrawn*

    This kind of thing makes me so mad! What is wrong with people?? As you can see by my user name, I LOVE Thrawn from Star Wars. And Thorin from the Hobbit, from earlier (I still do) BUT I am very aware that those real world actors who portrayed these characters, are not the characters themselves. So I don’t care about them, I just care about Thrawn and Thorin. How hard is that to understand???

    1. Antilles*

      Especially since if you actually meet the actors who portray the characters, you’d likely be disappointed anyways when you learned they don’t come even remotely close to sharing your enthusiasm.
      To you, his role as ___ was a life-changing experience…To the actor, it was Tuesday.

    2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Unfortunately, there are fans out there who will latch on to the actor behind the character. I know some of them actually, and did once tell one of them to cool it because they were getting weird. She did, but she’s got an addictive/obsessive personality and is at higher risk of those sorts of behaviors.

    3. JanetM*

      I once latched onto a character and sent a grumpy letter to the actor when he showed up on a talk show as himself. In my defense, I was about eight.

      1. AmazinglyGuileless*

        I remember seeing Harrison Ford on a talk show back when Star Wars was re-released in theaters, in like 1997. I was ten and eagerly watched the show, only to realize within two minutes he wasn’t Han Solo! It was devastating. And then, life continued.

        This is a horrifying situation for the OP. My god, I hope someone can help you, and you can stay safe!

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      There was a fandom I was in a few years back for a popular TV show, and an older women – maybe early 40s, married with kids – almost lost her job and got a divorce over her obsession with one of the characters, and then actors, from the show. She even followed his vacation via some intense internet sleuthing, and then took her own vacation to go to every single place he had been. It was weird, but not surprising. Some people latch onto celebrities because they need to latch onto something that makes them happy (not that it’s an excuse or justification, but that’s the sense I get a lot via fandom, which has it’s own issues of getting overly invested in fictional things, but I’d rather it be something fictional than a person, you know?)

    5. Allison*

      It’s a combination of a sense of entitlement and poor understanding of boundaries. It’s not uncommon for people, especially in geek communities, to develop huge crushes on celebrities and want to engage with them in whatever reasonably possible way they can think of, but most people know to stop at sending them fanmail and going to conventions to meet these people. They might dream of meeting their celebrity crushes in organic ways and developing real, deep connections with them, but they also know that most methods of forcing that encounter are illegal or at the very least super inappropriate.

      Stalkers, on the other hand, either don’t understand this, or are convinced that it’s okay *for them* to crash through those boundaries, because they’re somehow special and different from all the other fans.

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Remember when people got upset that the guy who played the “American Sniper” turned up at the Democratic National Convention?

  12. Chriama*

    I am so sorry and stressed out for you. One thing I recommend you do is reach out to domestic abuse hotlines. Quite frankly the police were wrong in saying there’s nothing they can do. He is contacting you against your will, following you and harassing you. You could file a restraining order (obligatory “Gift of Fear” reference). But if this was a few years ago or in a different locale, it might be worth trying to pursue this again on a legal front. The public sentiment around stalking has changed a lot in recent years.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I think at least the police could have a talk with the stalker. Maybe if a police officer comes to the stalker’s house and tells him clearly that he needs to stop, well, a big police officer with a gun might impress the stalker enough to shut this down. Maybe not, but it seems worth a try.

  13. Esken*

    OP this is horrible and I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. I hate to say it, but I think it’s likely the stalker has or will figure out your legal middle name and will research those combinations. Especially if you are staying in your field, it seems he is persistent enough to figure this out. Ugh I’m sorry.

    Go with the first explanation about why you like the new city, leaving the details of this until the offer stage. I worry you’d feel like you’ll have to reassure them in the interview that this move will resolve the issue – I hope hope hope it will but you can’t make promises. At the offer stage, talk to HR about what else they can do to keep your information private.

  14. irritable vowel*

    I think you’re going to be better off changing your name legally, as much of a hassle as that will be. Some universities are surprisingly rigid about using their employees’ legal names in online directories, on email accounts, etc. – surprising considering that there are plenty of academics (women) who change their names legally but continue publishing and maintaining their professional presence under their former name. And it’s probably going to be hard to find out in advance whether the universities where you’re applying for jobs will permit you to go by a different name – I mean, they’re going to have to have your legal name on file anyways for tax purposes (and identity verification upon hire), so it’s not going to be possible to have them *only* use your preferred-but-not-legal name. So, this guy could ostensibly call HR, pretend he’s doing a reference check, and ask for you by your legal name to confirm that you work there. Sorry you are having to deal with this.

  15. Granny K*

    I’m wondering if an attorney would help you? I live in the US in a state where stalking is ILLEGAL, whether or not anybody made any threats. If the police won’t issue a restraining order, perhaps a cease and desist letter and legal action might get him to knock it off. (And if you had the funds, hire a private detective who can get more information on this guy.) Hang in there LW.

  16. Another academic librarian*

    So sorry to hear this OP! As another academic librarian don’t leave your current job you love just quite yet. The fact that this person has enrolled is actually going to give you more options beyond just the police. Please contact your Dean of Students or Office of Student Conduct or whatever it is on your campus. They can help and even can work to un-enroll this person. Your campus also likely has a victim advocate in your Title IX office – check in with this person they can walk you through additional options.

    1. yasmara*

      I’m really hoping you don’t have to leave a job you love over this, but it seems understandable that you might if these escalations don’t work. I’m hoping there are some sane people at your university who will step in once they know the situation.

    2. LCL*

      That’s what I think, as an academia outsider. This is something the title 9 office could have some constructive solutions for.

  17. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Oh. My.

    Best of luck, and I wouldn’t be fazed by someone using a middle name when applying for a job.

    1. Kat in VA*

      I actually use my middle name, as does my brother. He was named after my dad, so they used his middle name to avoid confusion in the household, and continued the “tradition” with me. It can get confusing for IT, because I can equally use my first name (although you miiiight need to say it twice) or my middle name, or the nickname which is a contraction of my middle name. But other than the initial hitch, recruiters / employers / coworkers just accept it and move on.

  18. El Esteban*

    I’m not a lawyer, but I am the son of one. I recommend talking to a lawyer specializing in this kind of thing. Maybe he/she can convince a court to get a restraining order despite the lack of physical threats. Also, I’ve found that a lawyer can get a lot done with just a legalese filled letter, even if there’s no further action behind it.

  19. Rey*

    I am so so sorry that you are dealing with this (a, a stalker invading your life and driving you from multiple jobs/cities, and b, employers who don’t take your safety seriously enough to help protect you). This is not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sending you good vibes :)

    1. Annie Moose*

      Seconding this. Even aside from being scary and awful in so many other ways, this just sounds so EXHAUSTING, because there’s no place to get away. I hope you can find peace and rest, whatever your next decisions are.

  20. DaniCalifornia*

    This just sucks. All of it. I am incredibly bothered that you cannot seem to even get a restraining order. Why is the fan not considered harassing you if you’ve explicitly informed him that all communication and or presents are unwanted. Especially since you probably have plenty of evidence of dozens (or more) interactions. OP have you consulted a lawyer about a cease and desist letter? Perhaps a DV organization could help in pointing to any laws that he actually might be breaking. I know police aren’t usually concerned unless a threat happens but this seems worthy of a RO to me.
    I hope you are able to find peace away from this crazy person. You should not have to go through this. I hope one day you have a happy update for us.
    I’d also remind your current/past employers to not reveal your new name/location/job etc when or if you move.

  21. Student*

    OP, I think you should put some additional effort into finding ways to stop this guy instead of letting him control your life through fear. Any options you have to do this is going to be scary – don’t get me wrong – but your current plan (1) is not working well for you and (2) it is giving him tons of control over you in the form of fear.

    A lawyer. See if one will right an intimidating cease-and-desist letter for you and have it delivered to him by certified mail. Getting a lawyer to write a scary letter is usually pretty cheap, even if you don’t have much of a serious legal case. You might have a real legal case against him in some mild regard, since he’s interfering with your job, causing mental anguish, and causing you to incur costs to try to keep yourself safe from him.

    The police. I know they’ve brushed you off twice, and that is incredibly discouraging. Try different tactics. Call them when he is actively following you, and tell the police that a guy is following you RIGHT NOW and you’re frightened. They’re pretty much legally obligated to come out and talk to him, which might at least scare him. Do it repeatedly, and it’ll create a hassle for him to stalk you (and a police record of his behavior that you can use if he escalates to threats/violence).
    Another police tactic – sit down and talk with somebody at the station and explain the bigger, long-term pattern instead of the latest incident. Explain that you understand they can’t arrest him on his current conduct, but he is terrifying you and you would really appreciate it if they’d mediate a discussion with him because you are afraid to confront him yourself due to his incredibly bizarre conduct. Tell them point-blank that you really want to get him to leave you alone before it escalates to a point where he needs to be arrested, and you can’t do that by yourself. No guarantees, but they might be sympathetic to that, and it spells out clearly what they’d be doing.

    Enlist the help of friends. Preferably, the most intimidating ad ruthless friend you have. You know he’s coming, so have a friend intervene on your behalf and tell the guy in very clear term to take a hike.

    Tell him to leave you alone personally. No kindness, no smiles. “No. I am not interested in you. Your attention is unwelcome. Your behavior is inappropriate. Stop trying to contact me, immediately.” If he tried to argue with you, stand your ground and just repeat, “This is not a negotiation. This is a rejection. You need to stop contacting me completely.” This is something you can and absolutely should do with a friend, or multiple friends, present to discourage him from getting violent, and you should hang out/stay over at a friend’s house for the following week (take a vacation if possible), because right after a confrontation he will likely go through an “extinction burst” of lashing out really hard at you. This time period is when he’s most likely to get violent against you – but the good news is that the extinction burst is usually a short period, and after this it will END.

    Social-media-shame him. You are a minor internet celebrity, apparently. Use it to try to get some public reaction against him. If the fan community tells him what a creep he is, maybe he’ll be shamed into stopping. Maybe you can get a minor local news story. Take some phone footage of him stalking you. Have friends help get footage. Film or record (be mindful of your local state recording laws) yourself confronting him and his meltdown/ignoring you. Film the police telling you they can’t help. Film your job being unhelpful. Post it, or take it to a reporter. Tell your fan community you’re scared and ask if any of them will help you. There’s that whole metoo thing right now, so try to use it to your benefit while you can. This is exactly what that movement is about.

    1. Amber T*

      Dealing with a stalker is scary. Dealing with a stalker who follows you from job to job to job is terrifying. I find it *at best* unkind that you turn to blaming her for not doing enough to prevent this stalking asshole while fearing for her safety.

      1. Ambpersand*

        Well said, Amber T. And while public shaming might work in theory, this guy has already proved that he doesn’t care about boundaries, rules, or societal norms and is not willing to leave her alone. What’s to say that he wont lash out if she tried to public shame him on social media? Escalate further? Start making threats because she’s damaged his reputation? You hear about women and girls getting assaulted or shot for turning a guy down, and I would be wary of any tactic like that which could provoke him further.

        1. Allison*

          It might be a good idea for someone (not necessarily the letter writer, but someone) let the organizers of anime conventions know about this guy. If he’s stalking her, he might stalk other voice actresses, cosplayers, or even fellow con attendees. Conventions are trying to be safe spaces, this guy is definitely not a safe dude.

      2. Student*

        Her current approach is to give him full control to drive her life around. Chasing her from place to place, job to job. I’m not blaming her at all. He’s the one doing something terrible. But letting him scare her into running away, over and over again, when he’s demonstrated that her running does not deter him, is just madness. Running was a legitimate choice for her to try! It failed, spectacularly. It seems very unlikely that more running will fix this, given his demonstrated past conduct. So she should be aware of her other options, and at least consider them.

        And, you know what? The burden to deal with this, the solution to it., should never be that “A woman has to give up everything because some guy won’t take no for an answer”. Never. The fact that you buy into that, that’s huge sexism. It’s a bizarre, horrible cultural lie. It’s terrible. It’s monstrous. so, let’s all try to make this monstrous for the monster in the story – the stalker – instead of for the OP.

          1. Annie Moose*

            Hit Submit too early. What I wanted to say was:

            She’s gone to the police AND her employers. She has not been passive. On the contrary, she has taken concrete steps to address her situation, which have only helped in limited ways. She is now choosing to pursue an alternate option.

            I agree that women shouldn’t have to leave their life behind for a guy who won’t take no for an answer! But it is not OP’s responsibility to perform feminism to your specifications; it is not her responsibility to force society to change at the cost of her personal safety. If leaving is what gets OP her desired results and results in a happier, more fulfilled life, then I won’t criticize her.

          2. Female*

            Not to mention, OP’s strategy has not “failed spectacularly”– she’s still alive, isn’t she? Suggesting that she does incredibly risky things to try to make him stop stalking her is very insensitive and misses the point entirely– very “cure is worse than the disease.” Obviously he’s going to stop stalking her if he kills her, but our primary goal isn’t to make sure the stalking stops– it’s to make sure she’s safe.

            1. Kat in VA*

              I’m going to have to agree with you, for sure. For some men, “no” isn’t good enough, and “no” translates into “If I can’t have you, no one can”. Murder/suicides are common with people who escalate stalking, and they don’t always get caught. I cut loose a (male) friend who’s across the country and sometimes I have the not-so-idle-thought that someday he might show up on my doorstep (narcissist to the core) and I would really really hate for that day to happen. It’s different when it happens to you. The whole notion behind it is screwed, but as long as men are killing women who don’t perform to their satisfaction, women will have to keep doing what they can do to survive, even if it feels like losing or giving in or whatever. We’re not talking about lofty idealism; we’re talking about her life (all of it, from jobs to moving to changing her name to surviving).

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          Use this for all Alison posts.
          “Op I am so sorry you are having to deal with x. Have you tried a,b,c?”

          Comes off much better than “You are handling this wrong. Do a,b,c. “

          1. Mathilde*

            Oh for heaven’s sake, this is not victim blaming. This is not saying that she is responsible for the failure of what she did. Her actions did not work because he is a crazy awful man, not because she failed at “handling a stalker 101”.
            Student’s posts are quite clear, and their ideas might be impossible for the OP, I don’t know, but they exist.

        2. VictorianCowgirl*

          I unenrolled on the first day of nursing school it took two years to get into and moved 2000 miles away to stay safe from my stalker. They rule your life in the form that staying alive rules your life. These activities you are mentioning don’t put a magical wall of protection around her. An RO doesn’t force him to stay away from her. If she needs to run, she runs, that’s how you stay alive. I understand your fury, and agree, but you can’t let how things SHOULD be dictate safety precautions. You plan based on how things ARE. Right now OP has no law enforcement support.

          OP, my thoughts are with you. You may find a much more receptive law enforcement in your new town as these things vary alot by entity. My hopes for your increased and continued safety. Stalking is a violent form of emotional abuse. I hope you are seeing a counselor if possible and tending your own mental health during this nightmare. <3

      3. Phoenix Programmer*

        I agree the first paragraph is poorly wordedvuti agree with some of the advice. I had stalkers in college and found leveraging friends to get the guy to back off helped.

      4. anonykins*

        I don’t see any blaming language in Student’s post, and they have provided many very concrete and actionable steps.

        1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

          “Letting him scare her” = blaming language. She’s scared! And rightly so! That’s not ‘letting’ him do anything, it’s a natural and expected response to being stalked!

          1. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

            Yes. That wording literally reassigns the blame to OP. The correct wording with correct blame would be “He is scaring her.” That’s it. It’s 100% his fault that she’s scared, not hers.

        2. WellRed*

          I agree with calling police in the moment, if possible. We had a peeping tom, they took it very seriously and we had no evidence or logs.

      5. Cal*

        It’s sickening that you ignore the actual advice and instead choose to call the whole thing victim blaming. I guess you want her to remain a victim forever. You dont want her to be empowered. Makes me sick to my stomach.

        1. hollow exuviae*

          Cal, that’s… a very unkind reading of people who disagree with the advice. OP doesn’t need to be “empowered” to our liking, she needs to be safe. A lot of what the advice is suggesting is very much not going to make her be safe.

          I do agree with others that some of Student’s wording choices were very poor, and that combined with the extremely risky advice makes me think they’re not very well versed in stalking situations. Nobody is saying their heart is in the wrong place, but it was rather an irresponsible comment to make when stakes are so high.

          Perhaps it would help you to think of other commenters as advising caution and being concerned for OP’s well-being, rather than “wanting her to remain victim forever”.

    2. brightstar*

      Having been stalked myself, I’m going to say that some of this is bad advice. ANY attention from OP would be construed as the stalker’s behavior working. Telling him to stop? That would be seen as a positive. Talking about him on social media? That would also been seen as a positive. The more attention OP shows, the more rewarded the stalker feels, whether the attention is negative or positive.

      Also, part of being stalked is that no matter what, your life is defined by the stalking and the fear. Changing things about my life (how I drove to work, changing my work hours, changing the route I walked my dog when he showed up in my neighborhood) felt like I was allowing him to control my life. Not changing these things may have possibly put me in danger or have been seen as “encouraging” him.

      OP, I am so sorry that you are going through this. Please, as others have recommended, talk to the Office of Student Conduct and remember self-care.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Agree with the no attention part. Any attention is good attention for a stalker.

      2. Student*

        Your life doesn’t have to be defined by the stalker and the fear, though. That is the lie the stalker wants you to believe. That is a lie that a misogynistic society feeds you, that teaches women they need to be kind even under the worst circumstances, to bend over backwards instead of ever standing their ground. You’re ripping me apart for merely suggesting she look at options to stand her ground.

        Heck. You’re looking to tell her the stalker “might” like it if she has the police confront him, so you are actively HELPING the stalker try to paralyze her from doing anything in her own defense whatsoever.

        If the OP wanted to, she could legally kill this guy in self-defense in many states based on her description of his conduct toward her. Notice how no one even brings that up as an option because it’s so unthinkable that a woman might defend herself from a man with violence? It’s legal. As a society, we’ve decided you can take a life to defend yourself from somebody. Instead, we encourage this poor woman to upend her whole life instead. I wouldn’t jump to shooting him myself, as that’s pretty much a desperate last measure in my book. But I’ve been staked too, and I’ve found that several of these WORKED for me.

        1. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

          Yeah, none of what the OP has written qualifies as lethal self-defense OR Stand Your Ground type defenses. Murder would be illegal in all of the cases she has spelled out. And please, for your safety, if you are ever stalked again, keep in mind that every time you either assaulted, confronted, or otherwise acknowledged your stalker, you gambled with your life, and the odds weren’t necessarily in your favor. May I ask if you have ever studied the psychology behind deadly stalking cases? Whether or not the woman holds her ground has literally no effect on whether or not the case was legal. Women were killed whether they moved, whether they stayed, whether they had a concealed weapon on them, or whether they had alarm systems in their homes. The only common thread was the fact that in all cases, the police did not take the situation seriously. Lawyers and police are what save stalking victims. Because stalking is a psychological thing, the OP cannot reasonably expect anything she does to do anything but escalate the situation if she confronts the stalker personally. That’s not allowing fear to rule her life, that’s understanding that she is under a real threat, and understands the scope of the threat and has made her choices based on that. Is leaving the only option? No. But sometimes, if that’s the one that feels safest, that’s what you do. Because other than somehow convincing the police to get involved, literally nothing has decent odds of working.

          1. Amber T*

            “Lawyers and police are what save stalking victims.”

            Yes. Believing women saves women.

            And, you know, not being an asshole creep in the first place.

            1. Red*

              Rather than teach her how to get rid of the stalker, we should teach men not to stalk. How are men ok with this?

              1. Windchime*

                I think the stalkers don’t think they are stalkers. They think they are fans, or in love, or just wanting to explain themselves. They have justification in their minds for why they are continuing the behavior.

                I’m sorry this is happening, OP. I’m mad at the police on your behalf.

              2. Observer*

                That’s not really useful RIGHT NOW, though.

                Sure, we teach men not to stalk, and not do do things that “other people see as stalking”. But in the meantime, the OP and victims like her need advice for TODAY, not a future utopia.

                1. Annie Moose*

                  Also, we can certainly teach men not to stalk at the same time as helping victims take actions that protect themselves. It’s not like it’s one or the other.

              3. Cal*

                Yes, lets teach criminals not to crime instead of empowering women. Theres always the creepy guys that dont care and will stalk.

                1. Iris Eyes*

                  I would hazard a guess that in more than a few stalking cases there is a co-occuring mental health issue. Not that they are equated but that there is some overlap and adds one more point to why we need to figure out this whole mental healthcare thing asap.

                  We definitely need to approach this as holistically as possible. We need to educate everyone (especially students) on appropriate and inappropriate ways to show and receive attention. We need to stop romanticizing inappropriate behavior (sure its real cute in a rom com, but add a plot twist and all of a sudden you have a horror movie.) We need to empower people to stand up for themselves and be aware of different resources to draw from. We need to have checks in place so that the tools to protect can’t be turned against the wrong person. Fortunately there are plenty of people to be passionate and advocate for these and we can’t see people pushing hard on one area as an enemy, there are plenty of resources and passion to go around and plenty of places to push.

                  So yes some people are going to push in the direction of awareness or legislation or on behalf of men or women or people from front facing industries or celebrities. All of these are important, when one group gets the attention they should say yeah and these guys over here too, not try and monopolize the spotlight. And yes even if we make an amazing amount of progress on all areas, bad things are still going to happen and we need to have compassionate and useful avenues to handle those cases.

        2. Stalking vic*

          I’ve been advised by police that I could stand my ground in a stalking case if the person came after me, but that is because of a pretty significant difference in body size. That also carries with it a whole other series of bureaucratic and legal processes to make your life hell. It’s seriously a last-resort kind of thing. From my own experience, nothing you are advising can help OP in any substantive way, especially because a well-know barrier to prosecution is whether or not the victim seems perfect or innocent enough. If it seems she was asking for it in any way, including by being overtly aggressive, prosecution may be that much more difficult. Stop giving bad advice.

          1. Yorick*

            If they attack you, it might be legal to kill them. It is not legal to kill someone who sent you flowers or even someone who followed you home.

        3. Louise*

          What on god’s green earth are you talking about. Giving bad advice in this kind of situation is worse than giving no advice. Maybe take a sec to really read what others are saying here instead of blaming LW and criticizing the commentariat for not suggesting she kill him (????!???!!)

        4. Frankie*

          I respect where you’re coming from, but there are women in prison right now for using violence in self-defense against domestic abusers. There are women who have been killed for using violence in self-defense.

          I am (very) glad that you have been able to use this in the past with success. But not everything works for everyone, and some people escalate and end up with terrible consequences. It really depends on how volatile this stalker is, and OP really needs to consult with some experts in stalking/DV to get the best and safest recommendations.

          I do agree that it’s grossly unfair that OP might have to uproot her life and change her identity so that this can stop. But that’s really up to her to decide. I can think of parallel situations–I shouldn’t have to leave my job due to harassment at work but pragmatically that may be the only way for me to resolve the problem.

        5. Observer*

          This has nothing to do with “being kind” or “bending over backwards” or any of the other inanities you are talking about.

          This is about survival! It’s really that simple. When someone goes to the lengths this person has gone, the chances of them doing something to seriously harm or even kill the victim is significant. If you care at all about the victim you simply don’t get to ignore that fundamental fact.

          It’s also crazy that you are giving her advice that has a really high chance of hurting her. The things people are saying about stalkers are not about things that have a remote change of happening, as you claim, but well documented common behaviors of stalkers.

          Lastly, your suggestion that she could legally kill him in self defense is so dangerous as to be outrageous. You CANNOT legally kill someone for stalking – that’s not going to be considered self defense. He’d have to be doing something far more “obviously” dangerous to her (eg actually attacking her or breaking into her house) and even then, in some states she could be facing charges. Yes, really. And even without the issue of criminal charges, even someone who is trained in martial arts or who carries a weapon they are trained to use, can be badly hurt if attacked. That’s why people are giving her advice on how to keep from getting attacked. Because even under the best circumstances she could get badly hurt.

          This has nothing to do with misogyny.

        6. Gazebo Slayer*

          I wish it were legally considered pre-emptive self-defense to kill your stalker so he can’t hurt you any more. Plenty of these guys won’t stop tormenting their victims until someone puts them six feet under. But I don’t think that’s the case.

          (I am not a lawyer.)

    3. Student*

      I also advocate self-defense levels of violence against him, but I realize not everyone is capable of that. If it were me, I’d mace him every time I see him. Or throw soda on him. Or scream bloody murder at him in public. Punch him or elbow him if he gets close enough, or scratch him. Cops show up? Good! Tell them he was following you and it scared you and wouldn’t stop when you said something – it’s the truth.

      As a woman, you can get away with a lot more violence against a man than a man can against you before the police will take it seriously, and this is a time to use that sexism bull to your advantage. Wouldn’t have to do that if their sexist butts took your stalking complaint seriously in the first place, so time to fight fire with fire.

      I have personally had good luck with screaming bloody murder at a creep in public. It embarrasses them, scares them, and shows them you won’t put up with them. Never had to bust out the mace. I have punched guys with good success too – it immediately signals to them “oh she’s actually SERIOUS and doesn’t like this” in a way that they don’t always respond to a verbal “no”. I had physical violence backfire on me mildly once – the guy kept escalating the violence to the point where we were both in bad shape by the end of the fight – but he was so embarrassed to try explaining his wounds to people the next day that it finally snapped him out of bothering me because I had covered him with highly visible, but not particularly harmful, scratches.

      1. waywardchase*

        This all sounds like it could backfire spectacularly for a stalker that either doesn’t know or refuses to abide by societal standards right when authorities or other support might not be at the right level of awareness to help.

      2. Nita*

        This is good advice in a way, but probably not really good advice… chances are, the guy is physically stronger so attacking him may not be the greatest idea. Plus, beating him up will not put an end to the problem in the long term. It may work with a random creep just harassing you in the street (who is probably acting on impulse), but probably not with someone with the drive to follow OP from one city to another.

      3. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

        Student, I think you are coming from a good place here, but you have grossly misunderstood the psychology behind stalking behavior. Literally any attention given to a stalker translates as good to them and will escalate the behavior. Ignoring them will also escalate the behavior. Literally everything other than police or psychological intervention on a permanent basis escalates the behavior. If she assaults him, then he will either press charges to get around her in a court setting, use it to blackmail her in some way (or attempt to), or take as something akin to “at least she noticed me, I should keep trying THAT”. You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. That’s why relocation programs exist. Because professionals who deal with this behavior day in and day out understand that often, relocating is literally the least dangerous option.

      4. Katelyn*

        If it were me, I’d mace him every time I see him. Or throw soda on him. Or scream bloody murder at him in public. Punch him or elbow him if he gets close enough, or scratch him. Cops show up? Good! Tell them he was following you and it scared you and wouldn’t stop when you said something – it’s the truth

        And if the stalker is put together enough to spin it that he was just in the area and the crazy woman turned on him for no reason and assaulted him? And the police didn’t buy it the first time, but the second time it sounded more plausible? Now you’re in the justice system charged with assault, and you have to face him in court, and if he gets a lawyer involved he can get access to all kinds of information about you, maybe even sue you in small claims courts for medical bills or for inflicting harm of some sort, and if you don’t show up now you’re the one in legal jeopardy, and oh ya, you still have a stalker. Who is probably emboldened by the outcome…

      5. Belladonna*

        Student, this is the WORST advice. EVER.

        I had a friend in undergrad whose date LITERALLY drove her miles outside of town, LITERALLY pulled her out of the car, and LITERALLY tried to drag her into his place to rape her. During the ensuing struggle, she broke his nose. When he got up and grabbed her again, she broke his arm. And then she took his car keys so that he couldn’t come after her as she hiked miles and miles in high heels back to somewhere that she could call a friend to pick her up.

        The next day, he pressed assault and battery charges against her. He also tried for grand theft charges due to her taking his keys. She was swiftly arrested. She tried to explain that he had tried to rape her and press counter charges, but it wasn’t taken seriously.

        The ONLY reason that she didn’t end up with a prison sentence was that a.) she had a great attorney who b.) turned up a bunch of other girls who’d gone on a first date with that guy. A dozen or so other girls showed up to say that he had done the same thing to them. A few were willing to testify in court for her. A couple had even done rape kits – although their complaints hadn’t been pursued by the police at the time, because their rapist had said the sex was consensual and that their complaint was just buyer’s remorse. The police/prosecutor’s office had believed him over them.

        The last thing that OP needs is to follow your advice and go through all of that too. There’s lots of good and reasonable advice in this thread regarding the university’s safety systems, victim’s advocacy groups, and hiring an attorney who specializes in this sort of thing to pull the correct legal levers for her. Your advice overlooks the legal realities, psychological issues, and safety concerns inherent to OP’s situation. I’m happy that your advice worked out for you, but you were incredibly lucky that it did. You could very easily have ended up in jail with my friend waiting to be arraigned for hurting the man who meant to hurt you.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Uh, what?

      The OP isn’t letting him do anything.

      And as brightstar said, a lot of what you’ve listed here is well-known to, if anything, egg on most stalkers rather than dissuade them. The types of people who most often wind up as stalkers tend to be of the “bad attention is still attention” mindset.

    5. Mystery Bookworm*

      Some of the advice you’re giving here directly contradicts what I’ve read about the subject.

      Any sources for these ideas or are they just personal thoughts?

    6. DVA*

      I think your ideas about talking with the police are good. I would advise against social media shaming, though. OP should not engage with him beyond a firm and final “do not contact me again.” Engaging with stalkers is counterproductive. The attention is a reward.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I don’t even think OP should deliver the “Do not contact me” statement. If she feels the need to send that message, it should come from a lawyer’s office on official stationary with all manner of legalese and lists of potential consequences. She doesn’t have to do that, but it’s probably the only safe way to communicate with him at this point.

        OP, I’d avoid the advice from this post and focus on things like your university’s Title IX office and a domestic violence advocate.

    7. Kat*

      Uhhh, no. This goes against highly qualified expert advice regarding dealing with a stalker. Any engagement is feeding a stalker’s interest in his/her victim. The OP should absolutely not engage with him, either directly or indirectly.

    8. IANAL (but I watch a lot of true crime)*

      At least 50% of this would cause a stalker to ESCALATE stalking behaviors, not stand down. (For example: Cease & desist letter from a lawyer = “Oh goody! more attention from OP!” Having multiple of OP’s friends intervening and knowing who he is = “Wow! She told her friends about me! I knew she’d come around!” Social media shaming = “Look, she’s posting about me! I’m the only fan she posts about, I must be special to her!”)

      OP, please do not listen to this advice (and please do not take this weird victim-blaming mentality to heart, you’re actually doing quite a lot right in a scary situation and should be commended for it, seriously).

    9. Iris Eyes*

      RE: Social Media shaming

      I don’t really know anything about this however I agree that her personally addressing things opens her up to more problems and anguish. Perhaps though as others have suggested getting him banned from cons, having him banned from campus did work somewhat. Perhaps having true fans take up the work of shaming so that it is coming from “peers” rather than the “object” might be a more effective/acceptable route. Similar to a guys buddies calling him out for cat calling being more effective than the cat-callee calling him out.

      1. Jane Rochester*

        Any advice that suggests further engagement with the stalker, even to tell him to go away, is absurdly dangerous and ignorant. I cannot emphasize enough what terrible advice that is. A lot of people have recommended The Gift of Fear – I also want to recommend Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft. He addresses situations similar to this, especially the dangers of initiating engagement.

        OP, you sound strong and level-headed, and you’re doing nothing wrong in your handling of this. Please don’t let yourself be victim-blamed into initiating any contact with this person.

    10. Thursday Next*

      I think this thread demonstrates exactly why dealing with a stalker is so complex, with no easy or clear paths to getting free of the stalker.

      OP, I feel for you. There were several comments by people who work in university administration about steps you can take to alert offices on campus that would be more receptive to your situation, and more capable of leveraging university rules against this student. As an academic, I’m sad that you’re planning to give up an academic library job you love, and I gently encourage you to consider some of the steps suggested by higher ed admins who’ve posted here.

      I’m wishing you all the best.

    11. smoke tree*

      Please stop spreading dangerous misinformation about how to respond to a stalker. As many people with direct experience have commented, stalker psychology is often unintuitive and strategies that work in other situations could escalate the situation and encourage the stalker. It is also extremely unhelpful to imply that the letter writer is doing something wrong by being afraid and taking reasonable precautions.

    12. Going Anon on this*

      I typed up this huge long thing as a stalking victim and what I’ve gone through and am still going through, but I don’t want to put that here. All I can say is no. Just no. Student, you’re so off base on the bulk of what you’ve said in this thread in terms of psychology and so on that I can’t even begin. Bless your heart.

    13. plynn*

      This is all TERRIBLE ADVICE.

      “because right after a confrontation he will likely go through an “extinction burst” of lashing out really hard at you. This time period is when he’s most likely to get violent against you – but the good news is that the extinction burst is usually a short period, and after this it will END.”

      The BAD NEWS is that an extremely angry, violent stalker is not merely an inconvenience to be endured, they are a danger. to. her. life.

      Just in case I wasn’t clear, this advice is bad and you should feel bad.

    14. Greg M.*

      this advice is terrible and dangerous. and victim blaming. Your own advice includes “now this will make him more dangerous” and you still think that’s good advice?

    15. Observer*

      Not only are you placing blame in the wrong place, a lot of your advice is useless or worse.

      You claim, for instance that the police are legally required to come out and talk to the guy if she calls them. That’s actually not true. And, if they come out and “talk to him” and do nothing more, that may have the exact opposite effect of scaring him. It may very well embolden him, because now he knows that the police won’t do anything. This is a well documented problem.

      How is she supposed to enlist the help of friends? Do you really think it’s practical for her to have a guard of friends with her at all times? Especially since he tends to stay out of sight when others are around?

      Even if the OP is able to have the confrontation you suggest (which is not at all likely), your assumption that his will be a few days or a couple weeks after which the OP will be free is not based on any sort of fact. And, in fact, it’s likely that it will either be violent enough that others will be hurt, too, or it will NOT be an “extinction” burst. This is someone who has followed her for YEARS with absolutely ZERO encouragement or “kindness” on her part.

      Even if social media shaming could work- which is not necessarily the case, that would only be an option if the OP wanted to go back to the fandom. But she’s moved away from that. The idea that she needs to go back into a career she’s left to get some safety is, to put it mildly, ridiculous.

      In general, it doesn’t sound like you’ve actually read what the OP wrote, nor to what is known about these fandoms, etc. because your advice is so out of touch with reality.

      In any case, you need to stop blaming the victim and implying that she’s at fault or in any way “encouraged” her stalker!

  22. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    That is so horrible and scary, and I really hope you’re able to get away from this person! I agree with Alison’s advice that interviewers will still want to know why you want to work *in city A* rather than just *anywhere but city B*. I just went through a job hunt specifically because hated the region I was living in (which I’d moved to less than a year ago for work), but “culture fit with the area” wasn’t a good enough answer for savvy interviewers. They saw that I’d moved a great distance for a job and now, less than a year later, wanted to move again. I’m pretty sure I was labeled a flight risk! I got around it by finding a job in the area I grew up and relying really heavily on “wanting to be closer to family” as my reason for leaving.

    If you’re comfortable with it, I’d also consider letting your manager know what’s going on. Maybe there’s more they can do to keep you safe, but they can also be a great ally in your job search. Maybe they can reach out to contacts they might have in other cities to see about any open jobs, and certainly they can serve as a reference for you when you get an offer. My new job was a bit way of hiring me because I’d been in my job such a short time, but I was able to provide a post-offer reference call with my then-current manager which showed I had no performance issues to hide and, I’m sure, helped me clinch the job.

    Good luck!!

  23. Anon Accountant*

    Can you change your first AND last name? Because he could track “Samantha Smith” just to try to get closer to “Katy Smith”.

    And I’m sure you thought of this but make sure you hanged everything legally with social security number, etc. there’s victims of domestic violence who have hanged heir full name, kids names, etc to avoid being found. This is in real life and not just on TV.

    My thoughts are with you.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      I’d make everything official with a change. Like even consulting a legal authority to make sure you covered all bases of new drivers license, social sec number, etc. Don’t take any chances with him.

  24. ApricotSr*

    Someone earlier has suggested this already, but you should definitely also talk with a lawyer to see if she/he can advise you on a) how to get the stalker to stop contacting you or b) how to get the police/your workforce to protect you better. Even if you do ultimately move, getting legal advice as to your options could provide some peace of mind.

    If finances are an issue and you’re at a university with a law school, that school will most likely have legal clinics that provide free or low-cost legal advice depending on your income (and/or could probably if you’re staff at least recommend a lawyer who’d be appropriate). If there’s a law school attached to your workplace or attached to another school in your area, there may also be faculty who specialize in domestic/family law issues (i.e., who’d be familiar with how to go to court to get a restraining order against him) or who specialize in gender violence law (i.e., who’d be familiar with the difficulties that women in your situation face when trying to get the police to take them seriously). Those faculty members might know local lawyers who could handle your case, either on a paying basis or pro bono. Many lawyers also do an initial consultation for free, so you wouldn’t end up having to pay if they say there’s nothing they can do for you.

    1. Anne of Green Gables*

      My workplace EAP also provides some basic legal stuff as part of their services to employees; that could be an option for low or no cost legal advice as well.

  25. MaureenS*

    Could you set up a (minimum) PO box or (better) a private company and change all your bills, utilities, car ownership, etc to there? It may help to prevent him from finding your personal space again.

    I’m disgusted that the cops and the uni won’t help you with this situation.

  26. drpuma*

    OP, I am so sorry you have been dealing with this! Since one of the other commenters mentioned that their state has very strict anti-stalking laws – if you do end up relocating to another city/state completely due to this guy, it might be a good idea to choose your new home based partially on what sorts of legal protections you would have there, especially if they are different from your current city. Probably another reason it would be good for you to consult a professional. It is the depths of unfairness that you have had to rearrange your life so many times because of this creep.

    1. Another Person*

      I came here to say the same. Please move somewhere that has laws in place so the authorities will protect you if he continues to stalk you. No one should have to spend their life looking over their shoulder and changing their name and moving from place to place to get away from a creep.

  27. MCL*

    I’m sure you’ve been looking around at resources, but I thought that this article about resources for faculty/staff who are being stalked by students might be helpful if you have not already seen it: And also this article from the AAUP:

    Also advised in the comments of that article is to keep extremely thorough documentation of all interactions in any form with the stalker, so that you can present evidence about it to relevant authorities.

    I work at a large state university – I am not a librarian, but I have an MLS and I work with a lot of librarians. I am so sorry that this is happening to you, and I hope that your situation becomes safe soon however you end up moving forward. I do think that if you have the ability/energy to push back on your campus administration, you should try to do that. As a student, this stalker is subject to a code of conduct, which hopefully you can show that he is breaking – the Dean of Students should be able to assist. If the stalker is expelled from campus and banned from the premises, hopefully that would help a little. I still understand why you might want to move, though, since it seems like he knows where you live. In the mean time, you may want to look in to EAP for help dealing with this undoubtedly stressful situation. Stay safe.

    1. MCL*

      Also, I agree with others who advised talking to an attorney who is experienced with this type of thing. They may have some really great advice that you have not thought of on your own. They may also be able to help you with how to advocate for actions from your employer so that you feel safe during the time you are working there, however long that might be. Take care of yourself!

  28. Lynay*

    WTF to him enrolling, have you actually spoken to the person who teaches his course and explained who he is and that he has ulterior motives for attending? I really can’t see why you have to leave your job because of him. Your employer has a duty to protect you.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      I might actually recommend talking to the Registrar instead of the individual professor. Faculty don’t necessarily have a lot of control over who enrolls in their courses, so long as they fit any prerequisites and such.

      1. kbeers0su*

        As long as student meets the requirements to enroll the university can’t deny him from enrolling.

        1. anon for this*

          That’s just false, of course they can. Universities literally decide whether or not to admit people to begin with, they’re certainly capable of saying, “That’s reprehensible behavior!” and kicking people out – and they do, for sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, etc.

        2. Nephron*

          A guy got caught first day of move in with pounds of marijuana in his room, he was gone that day and did not get to re-enroll.

      2. Yorick*

        Yeah, the individual professor has no choices about who’s in the class. I’d like to kick lots of students out of my classes….

      3. Jennifer*

        Go to the student judicial affairs office, not the registrar. The registrar can’t prevent him from signing up for classes if he got admitted to the school. But Judicial Affairs can hopefully punish him, maybe even lead to him being kicked out of the school.

    2. MCL*

      This should be brought to the attention of the Dean of Students, not the individual instructor or registrar. The Dean of Students and their administrative team are the people who make decisions about when a student’s conduct merits expulsion from the campus. The instructor and the registrar aren’t going to be able to do anything. I would also suggest going to the university’s health services team; they often have victim advocacy services that could be helpful to plug in to. EAP would be another resource to consider, as this is certainly stressful for the OP.

  29. Glomarization, Esq.*

    Talk to a lawyer.

    Also, if the stalker is a student now, he’s subject to the school’s Code of Conduct. There’s almost certainly some aspect of the Code and/or a sexual harassment policy that he’s -thisclose- to violating. In fact, once you tell him (again) to leave you alone, quit sending flowers, etc., he may well violate the policy. Then you have another avenue to pursue keeping him away from you.

  30. Margot the Destroyer*

    I would have been half tempted to pull a reverse stalking on him, since you know his name, find his address and go tell his momma what he is doing.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’m assuming this is a tongue in cheek suggestion but it’s a TERRIBLE idea.

  31. Nicole*

    *SIGH* You’ll probably have to get seriously hurt before the police even begin to care, the cops don’t give a crap about stalking victims. Is it possible to get a restraining order? Do you live somewhere where you’re able to carry a weapon to defend yourself? As a victim of 12+ years of stalking myself, I’m seeing red right now. I want to find this guy and kick his ass on your behalf.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I’m so mad I can’t even think of anything more constructive to say.

  32. EmilyG*

    I hate that this is happening to OP! It seems like the most important thing is to break that cycle somehow. I’m concerned that a single carelessly talkative coworker could lead the stalker to your new location accidentally (I could see the stalker being focused enough to look up all the Smiths who are librarians in the new city). While I do think librarian colleagues would be pretty comfortable/supportive if you told them about the stalker problem, due to problem-patron experiences, I also hate that you’re considering uprooting you life because of this person. Someone above mentioned that different states have different laws, and it sounds like it could be worth consulting with a lawyer to learn (1) Is your current employer handling this correctly (2) Are the police in your current location handling this correctly and (3) If you do move, what would be a jurisdiction that would handle the problem more aggressively?

    1. Another Person*

      Yes. All that has to happen is an innocent comment from a coworker about the OP moving to City Z, while the stalker/student is lurking behind a potted plant or something, and he’s off to do an internet search of new hire announcements at libraries in City Z.

    2. TootsNYC*

      or focused enough to research former colleagues and befriend them, or just do the “Oh, I knew her at University Y! Do you know where she went?”

  33. Okie Dokie*

    I really think it’s best to change your name completely. Continue to use your current name for voice over work but be a different name entirely for your new job. Yes it’s a pain but people do it all the time when they get married. Stalkers are relentless and you don’t want to ruin another job situation by trying to keep your old name. Sadly he may still find you but it’s best to do your best to keep him in the dark. Really sore this is happening to you. It’s aggravating that the police can’t do more in these situations. The only other thing may be to check stalking laws in different areas. I know California has much stronger stalking laws than other states.

  34. Snack Management*

    I concur with the advice above to consult with domestic violence advocates – they have seen it all and will take you seriously when the police don’t (super irritating and common). If you do decide to move and are in the US, you may want to look into which states have stronger anti-stalker laws in case you need them in the future (I really hope if you do a name change and move you don’t though!). Good luck, OP. Sending good thoughts your way. I’m so sorry this jerk is creating such a terrible situation for you and that your employer isn’t more actively engaged in supporting you. You’ve done nothing to create this or to perpetuate it but it still is affecting your life extremely.

  35. Nora*

    Zoe Quinn’s organization, Crash Override, might be useful here. Although it’s not for exactly your purpose, they have some good resources. Link in my username.

    1. OP*

      Thank you! I’m browsing through the site and it looks incredibly helpful. Excellent tip.

  36. shep*

    Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. My ex would go on drunken bouts of cyber-stalking me, actively trying to get me to engage with him across all my social media platforms, email, texting, calling, etc., and even that very tame version of stalking terrified me.

    I have some minor (VERY minor) YouTube fame, and a huge part of the reason I go by my channel name and don’t circulate my real name is because I’m terrified of something similar happening to me. I will occasionally get exceptionally creepy and/or gross messages and it always gives me some minor pangs of anxiety. As a result, I’ve shut down all associated social media accounts and really just stick to my channel, and moderate the hell out of my comments section.

    Which is all to say you have my sympathy and support, and I hope this whole situation is alleviated soon!

    1. Jennifer*

      I feel like we all (and by “we” I mean women) kinda need to start planning our lives for WHEN, not if, we get a stalker someday.

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        I hate how true this is. When I decided to join Instagram (about 5 years after everyone else), I remember being super careful about identifying features in a photo of my yard because I’d decided to leave my profile public for various reasons, and I didn’t want it to ever become a means of finding me. I’ve never been stalked or harassed long term, I’m not famous or particularly good looking or prominent. But it’s part of my reality that, as a human woman, stalking is on the list of things that are reasonably likely to pose a risk to my safety at some point.

  37. anon for this*

    Oh god, OP, I can’t imagine how awful that feels…. while, I can a little bit, based on my own experience with an ex fling who turned into a stalker. He never actually hunted me down in person, but he wouldn’t quit blowing up my phone *for years* and I was terrified he was going to show up. I was afraid of changing my phone number for work reasons (still am, actually, hate to lose all my networking) but I think this has inspired me to do it. It feels *awful* to have someone hunt you down like that…

    I just want to say that it’s not your fault everyone is being so useless – they’re completely ignoring how terrible this is for you and that’s messed up. I find it impossible to believe there isn’t someone on campus who could help (others have mentioned student offices, perhaps Title IX as well?), but if they will is another question. I would definitely take the advice of the above commenter and contact a domestic abuse organization. I truly believe you can get past this somehow, if you find someone willing to empathize, and I really hope you do!

    1. anon for this*

      I’ll post this in the thread on Friday as well, but since we’re here… does anyone have advice on changing my number and how that would affect business and other things? I know I’d have to check with the utilities and credit cards, but it seems like that’s about it…

  38. Kheldarson*

    Oh man, I’m so sorry, OP. That sucks. I’m sure you did great VA work too.

    Allison’s advice seems spot on, but I offer Jedi hugs and apologies from an otaku for other’s behaviors.

  39. blink14*

    Don’t let this guy force you into changing your name and moving. Get a lawyer as soon as possible. Your university may provide legal assistance through your benefits. See if your university has a mediator/ombudsman, they may be able to assist you in dealing with campus police and admissions. Go directly to the campus and city police again, have colleagues, HR, police, or whoever else from your old location be contacted to corroborate.

    AAM recently recommended “The Gift of Fear” and I highly recommend you read it. There are some really good tips about disengaging with stalkers. The biggest tip is to ignore, ignore, ignore. Much like with a bully, most stalkers will eventually lose interest if there’s no engagement.

    Block him on all social media, contact any entertainment management you have and alert them of the situation. Make sure all of your friends and co-workers, and even neighbors, are aware of the situation so they can be on the look out. Tell your apartment building management to refuse all deliveries. If there is no on site management, see if you can call the companies that delivered and ask them to not send anything else purchased by that person.

    More than likely, this guy will find you again if you move and/or change names. It’s possible the “thrill of the chase” is more exciting to him than anything else. Take every step possible to get rid of him before going that route.

  40. Blue_eyes*

    Could speak to the university again and try to have him banned from the library at all times? Most libraries have rules and will ban users who don’t comply, especially after they’ve been warned (like destroying materials, talking, bringing in food). His right to access the library does not trump your right to feel safe at work. It’s ridiculous that the solution was for you to give him your work schedule, so now knows exactly when you’re coming and going.

    I agree with others above about consulting a lawyer. Even a strongly worded cease and desist letter might scare him enough to back off. I don’t know what the requirements are for getting a restraining order, but you might look into that as well.

    And the police are full of it – his behavior is threatening even if he hasn’t directly said anything like “I’m going to hurt you”. Following someone and then sending things to their home is threatening because he’s showing that he knows where you live and could show up at any time. I would read up on stalking laws in your area to see if his behavior falls under any categories of illegal actions, don’t just take the police’s word for it that it has to be “threatening”. If you can find a law that he is violating, you could go back to the police with the exact statute that he’s breaking. And if you’re not already…document, document, document. Write down every time he has shown up at your work place, followed you in his car, sent you things in the mail.

  41. waywardchase*

    This read won’t be out of my head for quite a while. I know it’s nothing unique, but I’m so sorry for this ordeal you shouldn’t have to go through, OP. You have all of my heartfelt wishes for your safety and peace of mind.

    I have no further gems of advice outside of Alison’s and everyone else’s but support ideas like documenting everything so that you can easily provide it to those that might be able to help…and to avoid this man. It chills me to think that the “sweet” messages could very suddenly turn the other way in a bad confrontation given how outrageous he’s already been.

  42. Easter*

    Contact an attorney. Many jurisdictions have harassment restraining orders where harassment is defined as repeatedly contacting another person with no legitimate purpose. If/when you get the restraining order, if that person continues to contact you, they are then in violation of the restraining order – for which the police CAN arrest them and the court CAN put them in jail, etc. An attorney would also know the stalking laws in your area and would be able to advise you.

  43. Brownie*

    If you were a member of SAG or any other union or guild while you were doing the voice acting it may be worthwhile to contact them and ask if they have resources for how to separate your current self from the voice actor. It might mean changing your name or it might be something like creating an online doppelganger who complains about being mistaken for you-as-voice-actor and who’s online presence and name you can eventually slip into while leaving you-as-voice-actor in the past.

    Tell coworkers that if anyone asks you’re moving to someplace generic (think something like Springfield, there’s at least 7 major cities with that name). And share the information about what this stalker has done, looks like, name, and any other identifying information with your supervisors, coworkers, and anyone in administration who has or will have your contact information when you leave. Use “I’m moving because of a stalker who’s followed me through several jobs, please do not share my information with anyone without checking with me first” when contacting anyone who will have your contact information after you move. Don’t downplay this, it’s a serious problem affecting your life and needs to be treated as such by those entrusted with your personal information and, if they know how serious it is, they’ll be far more likely to protect it and to flag any attempts to get it as suspicious. Also ask if there’s a way to have your records purged from the system or changed to be under a different name after you’re no longer employed. The domestic violence advocate suggested above will have more ideas for protecting your information as well. Best of luck, this is a completely unfair situation to be in and I hope all goes well for you.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Fayetteville and Lafayette are also some good generic city names if you go this route… just forget the state.

  44. Dogmama*

    Holy crap on a cracker that is just awful. I’m so sorry LW, I really wish you the best. You need a restraining order like yesterday. I’m shocked that the police didn’t bring this up. Perhaps because the stalking hasn’t escalated? Shouldn’t matter. Either way please stay safe and reach out to your former anime community, I think they would be more than obligated to lend their support to you.

  45. Maggie*

    I’m so, so sorry this is happening to you, and I’m sorry (and angry for you) that the police are not taking this situation as seriously as they should be.

    Is it possible to ask your employers to not make your name and email address public online? I know you typically work for public universities, but hopefully an employer would be sympathetic to your plight!

  46. Cheesehead*

    Unfortunately, I would say that you should ask the new job to use a totally different last name for your email. Because even if the last name is common, once the stalker finds out that you’ve left, it sounds like he wouldn’t have difficulty finding you again. It seems like this guy is pretty resourceful, and if someone with your same last name appears at a new university but just with a different first name, RIGHT after you disappear from the other job, I bet this guy would figure it out pretty fast.

    And I don’t know, but would it help to contact a lawyer and have the lawyer send some ‘cease and desist and stop following me, you jerk’ type of letter to the stalker? And file an official report with the police, even if they can’t do anything legal against him now? I’m just thinking about trying to create an official documented record of the guy’s behaviors and then if the slightest thing escalates, maybe something can be done then, through legal channels?

  47. Specialist*

    I highly recommend that you get an experienced attorney today. You’ve hit so many barriers that you’ve been unable to surmount, no wonder you’re talking about changing your name and moving. In all seriousness, you need to watch what happens when you have a good attorney. They will tell you what you need to do and will write letters for you to get action. They’ll also tell you what is likely and what they can’t make happen. I’d recommend talking to a domestic violence shelter to get names, or look for a family law attorney. They deal with divorces and will have some understanding of these issues. The state bar association is another good source. Pay for a good one. You won’t regret it.

    Would you also please take some self defense classes?

    Please call an attorney now and then update us.

    1. Stalking vic*

      This is a good idea. Attorneys can often exert pressure on the police or county attorney’s office to get you some attention, during investigation and after any subsequent arrests to ensure that your desire to go through a trial or not are respected as much as possible.

      Do be aware that the issue of being willing to go to trial may come up before any arrests have been made, so as you go along, think about that. An attorney can help you think about the pros and cons, and how to help you get what you need out of the process no matter which way you come down.

  48. Cat songz*

    I’d also like to suggest that you reach out to your campus’s Women’s Center equivalent. It’s upsetting to hear that the campus police seem to think a currently nonviolent threat will always remain so or that they assume he’s “just an ex-boyfriend.” In my experience with my old school’s Women’s Center (when I was a student) they were very much on my side and worked hard to elevate my problem to the harasser’s dean, student harassment office, campus police, and IT. My situation was very different from yours, but I really felt that the Center was my champion. They listened to me and took my feelings seriously, communicated frequently with me when new developments occurred, and gave me advice for solutions outside of the school’s jurisdiction. I could tell they were on my side when they were outraged that IT hadn’t followed through on some security problem and they really went through as many channels as possible to keep me safe on campus.

    Some comments above also suggest reaching out to Student Affairs, your union, and the DV hotline. Yes to these too! I hope you can elevate this problem and find someone both sympathetic and capable of coming up with practical solutions that don’t continue feeding your harrasser’s obsession.

    I understand if you feel it’s best to eventually change your name and move elsewhere, but I hope there’s at least ONE campus center that will champion your case and provide relief while you are still at this job (and potentially advice for solving this problem permanently outside of work).

    Best of luck.

  49. SavannahMiranda*

    My gods, this is horrible. I’m so sorry.

    As someone who has worked in the in-house legal group of an organization, there may, MAY be options available to your employer’s legal group because of the way this person’s behavior impinges on their employee . MAYBE. And not necessarily out of charity, it’s when their organizational interests happen to overlap with the interests of the employee. Police departments and courts deal very differently with Big Organization than they do with Little Lady Private Citizen.

    You may have already talked with the legal department at your former or current employer. If not, give it some thought. Not HR. Try to get time with someone with “counsel” in their title. Explain it’s a *confidential matter affecting your employment and the employer* and an attorney should provide a meeting space with a door they will close to talk with you. Be open and friendly.

    Explain to them you don’t want to leave your job but are on the verge of doing so, and wondering if there is anything they can do as an entity that is stronger than the legal pathways you’ve already pursued. Be clear you’re not asking for pamphlets and referrals to social services. And you’re not making threats either. You’re seeking where your interests and their interests align here and whether there’s any Big Organization weight they can throw around about this. Because you really really don’t want to leave the job you love. You were hired to do a job needed by the employer and your departure will affect the organization.

    I’m so sorry because I’m probably giving you homework assignments of what you need to go run around and do. One of the worst things about situations like this is not necessarily the stalking itself but the buckets full of well meaning adviceyness anyone who hears about it piles on you. People start telling you what to do because none of us essentially know what to do. It upsets us all and our mouths start running to stave off the fear and helplessness we all feel.

    And there may not be anything that will come of a chat with the Assistant Legal Counsel of Such’nSuch. But it might be worth a try. If nothing else, if they’re any kind of attorney at all, they should have some thoughts and potentially meaningful legal referrals, and I don’t mean student counseling pamphlets.

    You are stronger than you know and you are loved now by hundreds here in the AAM commentariat. You are not alone.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      You may have already talked with the legal department at your former or current employer. If not, give it some thought. Not HR. Try to get time with someone with “counsel” in their title. Explain it’s a *confidential matter affecting your employment and the employer* and an attorney should provide a meeting space with a door they will close to talk with you.

      ^YES. And, even if you do leave, this is also a good contact-person for discussing a) not having your email/name advertised and b) using a different name for your email. IT policies are designed for the Average User, as it were, at a company. Exceptions can be made to most any rule, the trick is to find the person with the power and leverage to advocate on your behalf.

  50. voyager1*

    Someone suggested learning self defense up thread, I tend to agree with that. Also suggested getting a firearm too. I want to address that. If LW you decide to go that route understand that you may have to use it. If you pull that weapon you need to be prepared for that mentally and emotionally, because you will probably be using it in your situation. I am not adovacting one way or other, but that is where your mind will have to be when it comes to a weapon is all I am saying.

    I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

    1. tangerineRose*

      If it’s legal in the LW’s state, carrying some kind of self-defense spray would be a good idea. The LW might already be doing this.

  51. Ask Me How I Know*

    OP please please PLEASE beware of any suggestions above that recommend personally escalating the contact this person has with you in ANY WAY – you do NOT want to give him any feedback or embolden him AT ALL. I cannot emphasize that enough.

    This does not mean in any way at all that you shouldn’t protect yourself! You should, talking to a lawyer or a DV advocate is great advice. Working with your university’s office of student conduct sounds like great advice. Moving, changing, or going by alternate names is good advice. I would recommend doing pretty extensive searches on the internet to see where your address, phone number, etc is posted and requesting it be removed from those sites (white pages, spokeo, pipl, etc all have the option to opt out). I would also recommend working on your personal security however you feel comfortable doing so (living with others, taking self defense classes, home alarm systems, gated communities, etc). DEFINITELY document all encounters with him, historically if you can, too.

    Some people have recommended buying a gun – if you do, take classes to learn how to use it and be prepared to do so (not because you will absolutely definitely need to but because a gun you aren’t willing to use is a liability).

    I strongly urge you to NOT confront him – yourself or a proxy. It does. not. work. It can absolutely lead to an escalation (you don’t want him feeling personally betrayed by you after – or thinking that your friend who told him to back off is controlling you and you need rescuing from him or any number of other delusions to allow him to justify his actions). Stalkers DO NOT observe society’s norms and you will NOT be able to control his delusions regardless of how common-sense you are being.

    The NY Times article Dos and Donts for Thwarting a Stalker – it has some good, easily digestible information and tips to start you off with but it is dated.

    Good luck, OP. I wish I could help. If you do move, consider moving across state lines. Federal stalking laws may be your friend but IANAL and YMMV. Victimsofcrime dot org also has a list of states that allow for civil lawsuits against stalkers – again, maybe something to look into with a lawyer if your state participates.

    1. LeeGull*


      This. Anyone who gets to the level of a stalker doesn’t respond rationally – at least, what normal people think is rational. The stalker absolutely believes he is rational. He believes that if he could just talk to you, could just see you, could just shower you with gifts, he can finally posses you. Communicating with him AT ALL will only feed that. The 200th bouquet finally got a response! Now he knows to send 200 more. The 47th might by her car, her big guy-friend told him off. Now stalker thinks he is close enough that her boyfriend feels threatened – better keep waiting by the car!

      The stalker thinks he is perfectly reasonable.

      He thinks you’re crazy for not wanting to be with him, and he thinks everyone out to stop him is of no concern. Again, he thinks he is being reasonable. So traditional reason will. not. work.

      Best of luck, OP – definitely use the legal and community resources available to you to conquer this guy once and for all!

  52. Why Are You Swimming?*

    If you’re in the US and he’s using the mail and not FedEx or UPS, try reporting it to the United States Postal Inspection Service. They are federal police with jurisdiction over anything sent using a post office. make the case to them that he’s found you at multiple work and home addresses and you feel threatened because it’s obvious that this person is following you.
    I had luck with them in a recent stalking situation, they were actually able to ID who was sending me “anonymous” packages by pulling up post office surveillance tapes and having the report on record helped the actual police when they told the creep to knock it off. Best of luck to you!

  53. Judy Seagram*

    I hope that the OP also can notify her campus’ Title IX coordinator. This seems like the sort of gender-related threat that should be mandatory to report. But given the ham-handed response of campus security, they may not have told the Title IX coordinator.

    It may not help with the practicalities of your situation, but at least it will make the administration look bad, which they absolutely should.

    (Fellow librarian here, who feels lucky to have only had one stalker, sending you all the good thoughts I’ve got.)

  54. Katie McG*

    Call the FBI! You may not realize this, but this is against the law and local police typically cant or wont do anything about it. But the FBI can help. I was recently at a threat assessment training and they had a female FBI agent talking about how they deal with stalking, which typically breaks laws regarding communication across state lines. Please contact them. Also do read “The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker” and trust your gut. Let campus police know, dont walk to your car alone, if you want to change your name, do it. Please be safe and check back in.

  55. Bobstinacy*

    I just want to throw an exhausted fist bump your way because I’ve been dealing with a stalker for over a year and it’s so tiring. You don’t deserve to have that constant anxiety and fear hanging over your head because one man has decided that you owe him something.

    There is no right answer. Some guys will back off when confronted/shamed, other guys escalate and there’s no way to tell which way it’ll go until it’s too late.

    People have mentioned the Gift of Fear and if you go to the authors website he has threat assessment tests that you can take to see how severe the threat is. Not 100% accurate obviously but it helped me define what was wrong and how bad it was because it’s easy to feel like you’re over reacting.

    I hope you’re safe, find a solution, and please update us <3

  56. Petty Editor*

    I’m so sorry, OP. I worked at an anime distributor and that was always a concern for the voice actors – we had to chase dudes out of the building who would wait in the public bathrooms! People suck and fandom can be toxic. Your current employers are failing you. Wishing you a safe, clean break from this crap.

  57. Bekx*

    I imagine the reason you’re not getting much of a response from anyone is because he’s sending you “nice gifts”.

    So a long time ago I worked for Residence Life at a private university. A student called campus police and us because her friend snuck into her dorm room and wanted to take her to the local amusement park. She did not want to go.

    We all sort of joked about how the friend could take us to amusement park. And the entire department and police involved sort of saw this as a funny joke.

    I’m ashamed about my reaction now, years later. It wasn’t funny if she escalated to calling the police. A friend sneaking into her dorm building wasn’t abnormal at alllll so it didn’t raise any flags, but the fact that she called the police should have.

    THAT BEING SAID. We still banned the guy from campus, put him on the prohibited person’s list, and he had to deal with the police. So your university needs to handle this.

  58. AnonymousInfinity*

    My only thought reading your letter is that, IF you change your name, you need to (1) time it just right, so that there’s no chance this person will get a whiff of it*; and THEN (2) scorch your earth. This person is easily finding you now. Changing your name and moving a little bit away will likely not be enough.

    Scorched earth means…. No more social media (you are easily found through the friends lists of your family and friends, even with a fake name). No more going to see your family (this person may already know where they live). Change your car. Change your personal email and do not, in any way, link it back to you (there are free email providers that don’t require the back-up number; don’t forward your old email; don’t log-in to your old email; etc). Change your computer. Not only change your phone and phone number but get two Tracfones instead of a service provider – one for work, one for family. Change your habits – down to things like not even going to the same kind of church, or the same kinds of restaurants. Get a PO box. Do not own a house (because that’s all public record and very, very easily searched in a number of ways). Don’t tell your employer or coworkers where you’re going or where you’re working. I would even say get a non-public, non-library job for a little while (or no job for a while, if you can swing it) and fall off every face of the earth. This person may escalate – so, if you have family and close friends, warn them not only to watch out for this person but also to avoid scams (i.e., the stalker pretends to be a debt collector and calls your family/friends; the stalker pretends to be an old friend of yours).

    I’m only saying this IF you take the nuclear option of changing your name, because there’s no point in changing your name if this person can dig a little and find you anyway. This person is incredibly resourceful and motivated. I’m not trying to be a scare monger or extremist. When I worked in law, it was my job to find invisible people, almost like a private investigator – not to the levels where I was faking phone calls, but at the level where I know how easy it is to find people with very, very, very little to go on. If I know that you might have moved to Metropolis and I know you used to invariably do Taco Tuesdays and go to a Methodist church every other Sunday, that’s where I’m looking. I’m also looking at all the libraries and universities for you. If I have the slightest bit of information to go off of, I will find you by using you against you.

    *In my state, you have to publish your intent to change your name in the freaking newspaper.

    Before I changed my name, let alone scorched my life, I would get a good lawyer to help me figure out my real legal options, especially regarding name changes and what will trigger the police to help. I’m really sorry.

    1. kcat*

      I second seeing a lawyer. It’s amazing how police will sometimes start to consider something serious once a lawyer is involved.

    2. Anono*

      Not to be a giant giant creep but I am a former stalker. Back when I refused to treat my mental illness I stalked a few of my ex-bfs. I didnt do anything violent and had no plans to but I wanted to “keep in touch” with them even though they did not want to with me. Its actually kind of amazing/terrifying how much information you can find on a person, especially when you are willing to use social engineering and other deceptive practices which I’m almost positive this person did to you and will continue to do. I was able to get tons of information by pretending to be a wife or mother over the phone. I fully agree with this comment though, that if you dont completely scorch your old existence he WILL find you. And I really dont mean that to be an asshole but bc I think your safety is at risk and a name change seems like an easy-ish way to throw him off but it isn’t at all if that is all you do. I dont think right now there is any point in changing your name unless you are willing to go to the lengths stated above bc this person is right. Definitely worth looking into other options first. Best of luck OP!

      1. Brownie*

        It is beyond scary how easy information about someone is to get out of people using social engineering. Pretending to be a family member, an old job trying to forward on personal items, even a casual “Hey, do you have so-and-so’s home address? I’d like to send them a condolence card since their grandma just passed away” and the floodgates open up as people try to be helpful by providing information they should never be giving out.

    3. Salamander*

      This is good info. I am sorry that the OP has to go to such lengths to disappear, but these are the best ways to go about it. I’ve known a couple of people who scrubbed their social media and had to vanish due to similar circumstances. It’s very troubling that there are people out there who have allowed their fantasy lives to cross over into reality in such destructive ways.

    4. ShadowHunter*

      It is amazing how little it takes to find someone. I know people who found someones social media after seeing them at one place + their t-shirt.
      I found someone who had taken common steps to separate their personal life and their public persona.

      Both of these required zero access to non-public information, granted neither of them were truly trying to be invisible but still enough to make me think twice about what I wear and how I interact online.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Actually, you can buy a house / etc, but use an LLC or other business to do so.

      1. AnonymousInfinity*

        Yes, you’re right. However, if OP (or anyone else) does that, it would be a good idea to look into making someone else, such as a lawyer, the registered agent with absolutely nothing in the filings or entity reports that link back to a personal or work address. In my state, business entity information is public information available online, including filing history complete with names, addresses, and email addresses. I can search every way possible (so, with specific information or a vague idea of what I’m looking for) and download everything for free without an account. Anyone who goes this route should go with a competent lawyer in hand.

  59. kcat*

    A bunch of people on here already have some great suggestions, and I’m so sorry you are going through this. A couple of other ideas to throw out there:

    – If your library offers sabbaticals, you may want to see if you can take one. I know normally you have to be there for X number of years, but given the situation maybe someone would cave on giving one early. Some libraries will also let you take up to a semester leave unpaid, which, if you can float it, could be long enough for the stalker to get bored, especially if people could be trained to say you have moved.
    – Apply for Fulbright fellowships if you can/are allowed to (some jobs don’t let people). I know several librarians who have gone overseas this way. This wouldn’t solve the problem, but if you got one you could go to another country for a while. (Obviously only if you are interested in this kind of thing, you shouldn’t have to leave the country to escape a stalker). (there is a category specifically for LIS, but I know librarians who have gone under different disciplines.)
    – Start a limited liability corp (LLC) and do all business through that whenever possible. I have a friend that wanted to buy a house but had a stalker (and house ownership records are public) and this was the solution for her. I don’t know if you can rent through an LLC, though.
    – Try to figure out where he is getting his info. I’m fairly sure it’s not the license plate unless he works high up in law enforcement or the DMV. It’s probably search engines like that somehow manage to scrape everyone’s addresses (they have my past 10 addresses, along with info about all my immediate family). Lifehacker has an unfortunately titled article “How to Commit Internet Suicide and Disappear from the Web Forever” that details how to get out of these listings.

    I hope that you find a way out of this and soon.

    1. kcat*

      (I realized I’m assuming you are in the US, so some of these might not make sense if you are not)

  60. Legal Rugby*

    Hey – I don’t know if this is elsewhere in the comments, but go see the Title IX coordinator/Title VII person on your campus. I do both on mine, but I know on some larger campuses it is more than one person. Many things can be done to help you on the campus prior to you leaving – things that the Police/UPD would need a higher standard of proof. Also, as a Title IX or VII coordinator, I understand that even things that seem friendly can be stalking/harassment.

  61. Aliz*

    Op I’m sorry this is happening! It is so so horrible. A friend of mine was stalked by a co-worker for a number of years. This sounds like odd advice but it worked for her – you might try getting in contact with your stalkers family and asking if he has a mental illness and if they are aware he is stalking you. They might be able to help stop his behavior. My friend was so scared of her stalker that as a last resort (after restraining orders, telling security at her home and her work, moving apartments, etc.) she found his brother and called his brother to ask for help. Turns out the family was well aware he had a problem but didn’t understand the severity. The stalker had convinced them that he was in a consensual relationship with my friend. When the family learned the truth they intervened for the safety of my friend and of him. After that she never heard from him again and its been about 8 years now. Again, a little weird but maybe worth a try.

    1. Elbe*

      This is a really good idea, especially if her stalker is young and may still be relying on family support. It’s unclear how much information she has on him, but it sounds like she at least has enough info to begin a search.

      If she does decide to reach out to them, she should be as detailed as possible. Explain that this has already cost her jobs and relocations. People can be in denial about their loved ones’ behavior, so it’s good to have lots of document facts at hand.

    2. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

      In instances of strangers stalking someone, any contact can actually aggravate the situation. This is why resources for victims strongly advise no contact under any circumstances. It can either “confirm” the relationship in the stalker’s mind, causing them to redouble their efforts, or the “rejection” can cause them to lash out with violence. No contact is considered the safest option because it’s relatively neutral.

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        I have to agree. I am SO glad Aliz’s friend got a happy ending, but I could see it backfiring too easily to think of it as a blanket suggestion. I know several people who have unstable ways of thinking of the world (I don’t know if they’re technically mentally ill, but they don’t process information in a way that makes sense to most people and do not understand that their thoughts are irrational/unusual), and many of them have families based in dysfunctional dynamics. It’s possible that much of this stalker’s way of relating to OP is learned as an appropriate way to interact, and OP may find that his family supports him. They may even use the conversation to assist him. No contact with anyone connected to the stalker unless OP has a strong reason to believe it would help.

  62. Mojo021*

    My last position was with a state funded community college in the HR department. Please reach out to your HR department and see if they have any SOP’s for keeping your contact information from the website. We had a practice in place that if we had received a copy of a restraining order or similar document, we could exclude their information from being published. The state also had a way to remove the information from the “open checkbook” which showed all state employees salary information. It may be harder because of the department your in, however it may be worth looking into. If you do move and change jobs, you could approach the HR department with this kind of request preemptively. Good Luck!

  63. Maybe Helpful*

    OP, have you spoken with your director? My partner and I are both librarians, and she is a director at an academic library. I know that if this were happening to one of her employees, she would move heaven and earth to find a real resolution that doesn’t involve you having to totally upend your life. I am also an attorney, and agree with the advice to try to find a lawyer. You might be eligible for low cost representation through your university, but also in a major metropolitan area you might have a solid shot at finding a legal services organization that can help you in this situation. You should also consider contacting the District Attorney’s office. Reach out to your local law library for a better handle on local resources.

  64. Mustache Cat*

    Hey OP. I hope you see this. I highly recommend you not respond to comments here with any more information with your situation and what you plan to do about it. AAM gets a lot of traffic from varied sources and I am already seeing this letter discussed widely among fandom acquaintances. There’s a good chance a fan outlet picks this letter up and your stalker may be able to recognize himself.

    Good luck.

    1. Salamander*

      Blerg. Yeah, this is a really good point.

      OP, I think it’s definitely time to talk to domestic violence professionals and an attorney. Those folks can give you some really in-depth info based on your specific jurisdiction, and they will keep your confidentiality.

      I’m so sorry that this is happening to you, OP.

    2. Anono*

      I’m glad someone said this! I didn’t want to scare the OP by mentioning this in my comment above. I think for a stalker the OP could be easily identified from the little bit of info that was shared in the post! Please be careful sharing any additional details (you might even want to consider altering the original posting).

    3. FD*

      +1 And it would probably be too much to hope for that the stalker has a moment of clarity and realizes “Holy cow, I’m being an a**hole!”

  65. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    So glad your friend had a safe resolution and that the family took it seriously. What a relief for her, and it’s sad state of affairs when a story like this has a ‘positive’ ending (for want of a better term).

    I was wondering about OP contacting people in his life and whether it would be a good idea. I’m guessing it’s best done through a lawyer? Or another third party?

    OP, I’m absolutely infuriated on your behalf. We live in a shameful world where victims, usually women, are the ones who have to upend their lives and the perpetrators get away with it. I hope he leaves your life soon and forever!

      1. Aliz*

        Excellent point actually – my friend just called her stalker’s brother on her own with no police or lawyer. She was very afraid and started crying during the conversation and that kind of emotion might have helped them understand the pain the stalker was inflicting. It might be worth it to consult with a lawyer or with the police instead in case the family situation is not as stable.

        1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          That’s heartbreaking. I’m so sorry and angry it got to that point, and that’s what it took for someone to listen. Thanks for replying and am so glad your friend is okay now.

  66. essEss*

    I’m concerned about the police saying that it’s not stalking without threats. Many states have had stalking cases and ruled that a direct threat or hostility is not needed but just the constant following and intimidation is enough. For example

    I recently dealt with my city police to report a crime and they tried to blow me off and not fill out a police report simply because it was a hassle for them and they tried to diminish the crime and say it didn’t qualify as a ‘crime’. I had to argue and point out the actual laws that were broken before I could get them to just do the basic police report. I suggest you talk to a lawyer who specializes in stalking who would be working for YOU instead of someone who considers you a burden on their workload and have the lawyer investigate what legal options you have. Hopefully something better than just a restraining order.

  67. Bookworm*

    No advice, just wishing you sympathy and the best. I do hope you find a safer situation. Good luck.

  68. Annoyed*

    OP I know you said you don’t want a legal name change, but when all is said and done (new documents, etc.) things are much simpler in the long run.

    Like you I have a *very* common surname so I changed only my first and middle names…neither being even remotely close to my former name(s).

    My current (legal) first name used to be a nick name (though not a derivative of my birth name) which made it easy to adjust to for me as well as those who were not stalking me.

    Source: Voive of experience…

  69. Minnie*

    I am no stranger to dealing with a stalker, and I am so sorry you are going through this.

    Please document everything, and look into hiring a lawyer to issue this creep a Cease and Desist letter. The more evidence you have, the more likely it will be to file stalking charges against this weirdo.

    I wish you luck, and pray you can keep this lunatic out of your life.

  70. Elbe*

    OP, I am so sorry that you’re going through this.

    I dealt with something similar, although it didn’t continue on for long. The one thing that helped me was a police officer taking an interest in my case.

    Even if they can’t officially investigate or charge this person, they may be willing to contact him for you. Depending on the state laws, they can usually repeat your request to be left alone and generally give the indication that they’re on to him. Knowing that HE is being watched and that HE is on someone’s radar may be enough to deter him so that you can make a clean break.

  71. NewOne*

    OP – This is horrific. It sounds like you have taken steps each time to get away from this. THe police cannot protect you if he is acting in “legal” ways.

    Please do NOT fail to take this very seriously. DO. NOT. be nice.
    Please read: The Gift of Fear.

    I work in this area with forensic psychiatrists and stalkers, especially undeterred ones like this one, are not just nuisances. They can be dangerous and lethal.

    Good luck.

  72. A*

    Oh gosh OP so sorry!
    If you haven’t read the gift of fear, I would recommend it; it has a few practical tips about hiding identity.
    As much as the stalker sucks, I think it is a positive thing that they have made no threats. Again, I’m not saying the behavior is OK, just that it’s possible they’ll never take it there.
    It sounds like you’ve reached out to some resources on campus, campus police at least, are there any counseling or domestic violence resources you haven’t tried yet? I know it’s not exactly domestic violence, but they may be best equipped to counsel you.
    I just hate to see you driven out of your normal, reasonable, good life by someone else’s bad behavior. I also worry the stalker might find you again and then you’d be in the same crappy position even if you did move. Maybe someone, somewhere has a better line on how to help you deal with this guy. Sorry the police have been so unhelpful, though I’m not surprised. I’m a little surprised campus security hasn’t managed to help more, though. IMHO campuses sometimes have the best resources, but maybe there are other ones in the city you can turn to.

  73. Kittymommy*

    A little late to the game, but be very familiar with what sort of public records laws your state has. If your library is a public one (state universities), depending on your state a lot of your information may be public record. in the Florida, we have a broad public records laws. If you are a government employee, and you aren’t statutorily exempted, your information is subject to public record. Address, phone, email, salary, etc.

  74. Susan1*

    How is this in accordance with your student behaviour policies? I would complain to HR or a student relations department if he continues to stalk you. He should be suspended or expelled if he does not respect you. Hope you don’t have to resort to a move.

  75. Jen of the Film Credits.*

    Ok. Couple of things you need to do. Are you still doing voice work? Are you union? Invent a stage name. Contact IMDb and any other database that displays credits and ask how to have your name removed due to a stalking issue. Oh and IT can make your email anything they want. I’m a state employee and we had to change one of our staffers because format policy turned her email into a racist slang term, so yea, they can get over it. Talk to the Provost of you have too.

    1. Someone else*

      I think the point of that suggestion was to use a stage name for any future VO work so future potential stalkers would not have her real name, not about the current one since it’s too late for that.

  76. Ambee*

    If you haven’t, OP, I recommend contacting Crash Override for some guidance/support. They really helped me in a similar situation. Best of luck to you.

  77. Aixi*

    Another academic chiming in to tell you that banning students from campus facilities for stalking/harassing staff is 100% A Thing, and that you should take this as far up as it can go. I had a student removed from my classes and banned from the entire hall my office is in for harassing behavior last year after she wouldn’t accept that she failed a major assignment and sent me increasingly menacing emails. If she needed to meet with another professor in the same hall it had to be a virtual meeting or the prof had to go to her. (In all fairness, I was in a deadend hallway that led nowhere and with only two other offices in it so I doubt that would fly anywhere else.) And I know someone who had a student become obsessed with her and send her repeated voicemails, gifts, unsolicited letters, etc. The student was suspended for an entire academic year and banned from campus. My example is at a public school in a conservative state, and my friend’s was at a private school in a liberal state, so this seems to be a consistent thing across the board.

  78. Lynn*

    OP, everyone who’s telling you to contact a lawyer for various reasons is right. But for another reason as well. If you do change your name and move, you need to take additional steps to ensure this is a one-time effort. Have a lawyer set up a corporation or LLC for you. Make the name something completely different than yours, maybe even give the company a man’s name. Use that company to lease living space, buy a car, etc. Put another layer of anonymity in place.

    Whatever name your new employer knows you by, if he finds you, make it hard to socially engineer more information from your employer (particularly since he’d initially be working at a distance) – have a separate mailing address and give just that to your employer. Set up a google voice number for work to have as well. If he gets your contact info from work, you can change it without moving.

  79. Lumos*

    Also, OP, if you’re still here. I would check and see if your IMDB page talks about where you live and work and see if that can be removed. I’ve noticed it included a lot in the ‘trivia’ section on there.

  80. Ex Stalkee*

    OP, I am so very sorry you’re dealing with this. I echo the advice of above commenters to consider pursuing a restraining order and to really work with your current job leadership to see what they can do – expel him? Blacklist him from campus for harrassing staff?

    While I was a freshman in college I had a stalker exhibit very similar behavior – he would wait for me outside of my classes and try to walk me home, left flowers and gifts at my dorm, and would mysteriously show up wherever I was (in a crowded dining hall, at campus events). The most confrontational that I got was to say I didn’t want to walk with him, or hang out, or see him at all. He continued to follow me around until the end of the school year. The situation ended when I transferred colleges several states away. It is so tough when the stalker is not doing anything violent, just creepy and invasive and unsettling, because cops and security won’t do anything to help.

  81. Lady Phoenix*

    Here are some suggestions:
    1) When discussing this with the police/campus security, explain that this is a PATTERN and this pattern can escalate.
    “Mouthbreather has come to the library 10 times this month when I am working, plus 10 from last month.”
    “Mouthbreather has left another present when I specifically instructed everyone not to take them.”
    “I spotted Mouthbreather following me to my car at night for the 20th time this month.”

    2) Take your issues to the Dean, Women’s Shelter, AND Head Librarian. Tell them about this pattern, how he makes you feel unsafe and unable to work, and that you are considering changing jobs to avoid him

    3) Lawyer up—specifically Stalking, Domestic Violence, Family, Divorce. They can give you legal advice to take to the cops and to your stalker (without, hopefully, forcing you to contact or confrknt your stalker unless ABSOLUTELY necessary)

    4) Take up self defense and see rhenlaws regarding pepper spray/mace. If he does approach you, firmly tell him to stay away with the mace at the ready (or in a self defence posture). If he moves in, then look away and spray (or perform self defense measures and RUN while he is down to the nearest safety).*

    5) Talk to DV shelters and advocacy groups for legal advice, protection, and safety measures.

    6) Look your information online and demand to have it taken down. Some linked an exceelent article on…. sigh… “Internet Suicide”

    7) Get a PO box

    8) Ask for an escort when you have to leave.

    *Never EVER confront your stalker. Do not go after your stalker. Do not have anyone go after the stalker for you, except for someone of authority. Give the stalker any sort of attention will cause the stalking tonpersist and possibly worsen.

    1. A Nickname for AAM*

      College campuses are usually weapons-free zones. An employee with a weapon could be automatically terminated and could face charges, depending on the state.

  82. AnonymousInfinity*

    I’m sorry if this has been mentioned upthread and I missed it. Also: this is not advice but a thought.

    OP, you said that the stalker has followed you out of the parking lot and while driving through your town. This might be the one thing the stalker is doing that the police will actually take seriously, if you call the police while it’s happening. It has happened a few times in my area (it’s made the news), and the police actually arrested the follower each time. Even if they don’t arrest, it may be enough to generate a police report, which may then be enough to get some traction on the other stalking behaviors.

    This is not advice because (1) I’m an Internet stranger, (2) I don’t know enough about stalker behavior to know if doing this will put you in danger of escalation, and (3) if it generates a police report, the report will also be accessible to the stalker and will contain a ton of your personal information (birth date, address, full name, etc). Please, please, please reach out to a domestic violence advocacy agency or equivalent near you for professional advice and resources.

  83. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

    Okay, I know this is going to sound paranoid… screw it. You don’t just need to handle this professionally. You need to handle this in all aspects of your life.

    OP, you have an escalating stalker. This is not mild. He is evolving and it will get worse. Since you are part of a bigger organization, please contact your HR department and lay out everything that has happened in EXPLICIT detail. Explain that you fear for your safety (let me explain: YOU DO, if you do not already… YOU DO). This man is not allowed in your work area. He is not allowed to use the library. If he needs a resource from the library, it can be transferred to a different work space on the campus. They will not give him access to your work schedule or any other information about you. Quite frankly, they should expel him immediately since he followed you from another area and enrolled with the explicit intention of stalking you. That the university did not take this step immediately is shameful and could be seen in a very ill light considering the current climate and ever growing list of news stories about misdeeds of universities concerning escalating interpersonal crimes against women.

    You also need to contact a lawyer immediately. Just because the police did not do anything when first presented with the pattern of this behavior does not mean you do not have recourse. First, you do not necessarily need a police report to get a restraining order. You can file for one without police involvement and you should do so IMMEDIATELY. A lawyer can also help you apply legal pressure where necessary to get employers or even law enforcement to take you seriously. Try to find one who has done work for victims of stalking, specifically. Even typical domestic violence can differ from stalking by strangers, so do try to find someone who has done work for this specific type of case.

    Your next step is going to be to hire a private investigator for a day. You need him to look into this guy. Have him run a basic check into this man. I am betting you are not the first victim this man has gone after. There might be an indication of what his pattern is and what you can expect. Knowing what you can expect can allow you to anticipate what you need to do. This is valuable information on how far you need to take your safety plan and how much you’re in for. I’m sorry that it comes to this but this guy is not going to stop on his own. Having a professional assessment is valuable. You can also ask the PI to take a look at your patterns and habits to see where this man is having an easy time following you or gaining access to information about you. Investigators find people for a living and he may be able to give you some pointers on how to hide your tracks better.

    Now for the basics:
    -Document Document Document
    * EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU SEE THIS PERSON take a photo and document it with a note. Send this to a cloud back up and to another person.
    *Save all communications and evidence of other forms of contact. Take photos of flowers and box up gifts. Everything. With dates and records of where the things were sent to. If your landlord refuses a package, ask him to keep a record of the refusal.
    – Immediately change all of your passwords. 12 characters, do not repeat any of them, and look up how to make them secure. When he has a harder time finding you, he will start trying harder. Be one step ahead of him.
    – Get a PO box for all of your mail. Professional and personal. This is your mailing address. Do not list your home address for anything. This is one of your first steps.
    – Consider using a mail order pharmacy for any prescriptions you take. It’s one less “reliable” place he can find you.
    – Pack a bag with necessities. Spare clothes, spare toiletries, etc. It’s awful but you may be in a position where it is unsafe for you to return to your home to avoid him learning a new address. So, you need to have these items in your car. Be sure to pack at least three days worth of any medications that you take.
    – Create a legal shell: LLC, Private Trust, Family Trust… anything that gets your name disassociated from something like your lease, car, home, etc. up to and including your credit cards. The less associated with your name, the better.
    – Cars: You might realize you have to get a new car. Before you do, take your old car to a dealership and have them look for aftermarket “GPS” “Diagnostic” or “Tracker” boxes. These are all cheap and available online. They all have ostensible legal uses but some models can be attached while a car is in a parking lot. He could easily use one to follow you anywhere he wants. Tell them not to touch the tracker if they find it. Have them call the cops instead. It’s evidence.
    – Apartment: Features to look for in a new place. Doorman or secure lobby. Secured parking (ideally a garage). Security cameras. Security guard. Gated community. Finally, and this one is a sneaky one, rent a condo or townhouse that is owned by a private citizen but managed by a company. Ideally, one that has several of the security features mentioned. Having the owner and the property management company be two separate entities makes it harder for the stalker to find you through public records. Especially if that shell is the one that enters into the lease agreement. Every step removed makes it harder.

    I am really, really sorry this is happening. None of this is your fault and there is nothing you could have done differently. All of this is on him. I hope that you are able to get free of him. That being said, do not write in with an update. This guy was willing to track you down and stalk you. He’s going to be looking for any kind of clue he can. Disappearing is your best bet. Don’t underestimate his ability to turn violent because stalkers do pose that risk. They are not healthy individuals and professionals who advise victims will tell you to never take that threat lightly. Please take care of yourself.

    1. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

      One more thing… a great resource to start with is which has a resource page for stalking victims, including tips on how to handle things like your stalker using online harassment, the impact stalking has on your credit, and even how to get a backup emergency cell phone. They even have information about changing your name.

    2. Mechanic Gal*

      Adding…I found a tracker wired in a customer’s car last week. She noticed her ex-husband kept “showing up” at the same places she did.

    3. lurker bee*

      One small postscript to the suggestion on getting a PO Box. Many post offices now offer “enhanced delivery.” This can be helpful to our OP not so much for deliveries by UPS/FedEx, but because it gives you an alternate “physical” address for forms and the like. Instead of PO Box 456, for example, you state your address as 123 Busy Street, #456. Side benefit is at a big enough post office, you may also be less likely to be googleable.

    4. Properlike*

      Second the PI. I briefly had a fan stalker, and did actually use de Becker’s company for an initial consult. They ran background info on the guy after repeated phone contact over several years that culminated in “I’m going to visit you.” Do also get a lawyer who can make it so that your accounts, etc. aren’t under your real name. Demand to speak to Police supervisors and not patrol or dispatch. File police reports in every jurisdiction where this happens. Ask the higher-up how to document and get results – should you make a police report EVERY time or weekly or what? And have this lawyer inform your employer that they’re breaking the law and there could be liability if this escalated further and they failed to act. I think it will help to have someone fighting for you when so many people have failed to do so. You must be exhausted from the fear and the bull****.

  84. Kellis*

    I work in public defense. Every single state has laws about stalking, and most are similar to my state, which says not just that the behavior has to create fear, but SPECIFICALLY has to create fear that the stalker intends to injure you. This is where law enforcement might be coming from with how his behavior, which is absolutely creepy and even frightening, doesn’t quite reach the legal level. HOWEVER, in my state it also clearly states in the statute that if he continues to contact you after being given “actual notice” that you do not want to be contacted or followed constitutes “prima facie evidence that the stalker intends to intimidate or harass the person.” Your state may have similar language.
    In short, the suggestions above that you contact an attorney (through your EAP if you have one) and get a cease and desist letter are spot on. Please do that rather than contact him directly for all of the reasons other people have already said above. I don’t need to duplicate the (mostly) sound advice (I’d avoid listening to “student” if I were you).

  85. Melissa W.*

    Academic librarian here (and LIS faculty, so telling you what I would tell my students) . . . . OP, first, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Second, one thing to consider is that when you interview for an academic job, your name (and possibly c.v.) will be distributed widely within the library and possibly the entire campus. At a public institution, the interview schedule may end up on a website and eventually in public records. People will know your original name and even if you ask them to call you something else, you won’t be able to control whether information gets out accidentally (imagine if your stalker gets a hint you’ve moved and calls the reference desk asking for “Jane Smith” – someone may remember that the new librarian Barbara Smith is actually a Jane). At a minimum, apply with your new name and try to minimize how many people know your full, legal name. You also might consider that academic librarianship is a Very Small World and it may be hard to completely disappear. I would hate for you to upend your life and career, move, and have him find you yet again. So, so sorry.

  86. Cochrane*

    “How do I explain that this one is legit, and that’s why I’m leaving my current position (which I love) after less than a year?”

    If you do decide to leave over this, under no circumstances should you bring the stalker up in an interview. Right or wrong, I can’t think of an employer who would knowingly hire someone with this kind of baggage/drama (which you are 1000% blameless for, just be be abundantly clear). Once you land that gig, then start making the preparations to safeguard your privacy before Anime Creeper gets wind of it. Don’t give a prospective employer any reason to trash your application before you can demonstrate your worth and experience that will outshine this pest.

  87. Another Librarian*

    If you haven’t already, I would also change usernames for online stuff and opt out of any online phonebook type websites. Maybe look at online guides for preventing doxing/cyber stalking.

  88. KAZ*

    I work at an academic library and one of my coworkers had an ex who was stalking her. After speaking to the administration she was able to have her contact information and address for work removed from the library’s website. Unfortunately, it’s still available on the school’s site. That being said if you do get a job offer, explain your situation and maybe they can do something similar so your info isn’t as easy to track down.

  89. Weeabo Needs a Spanking*

    Username says it all. Sounds like some weeb managed to crawl out of mommy’s basement and OMG! This pretteh voice actor lady who makes the voice of my sexual fantasy sound so pretteh talked to me! NOW WE”RE BEST FRIENDS!
    I would file complaint after complaint with the cops. I would tell his professor (of the one class he’s enrolled in) he needs to provide assignments that do not require using the library. Hell, I would get some of the scariest, biggest dudes I know, to follow him into a parking lot and tell him what for. (No physical violence, but “leave Sailor Moon alone” from an ex-marine would probably make him pee himself.)

    Be safe.
    And y’know…maybe reach out to some saner fans and say “the fan who uses the handle ‘sailoruranuspanties’ has been stalking me at work.” That mature side of fandom would solve that problem for you…

    1. LadyPhoenix*

      Your advice to have some big dudes threaten him is the kind of shit that escalates into the Victim getting raped and/or murdered.

      If you know enough about anime, you know that yandere’s tend to KILL their object of affection if it becomes obvious they can’t “win” them. There is truth in television since the yandere is basically a stalker.

      And she doesn’t have the power to tell a professor to essentially rewrite his entire course for one douchebag. If his course requires the library, then it requires the library. Instead of making uninformed statements about CHANGING A PROF’S COURSE, a better solution would be to have him and the dean BAN THIS DUDE from entering the campus.

    2. LadyPhoenix*

      Because my last comment is under moderation:
      your advice will get the OP raped and/or killed.

      This guy is too far gone to realize what he is doing is wrong. Unless he gets prison time or therapy, anything or anyone that keeps him fr9m the OP will be seen as a foe.

      It sounds like you know enough anime to know the terms, so you must know about the yandere. Notice how she tends to murder everyone that come near the Object of their affection—sometimes even friends? Notice how they will also turn and murder their “oniichan” the moment that person turns them down too?

      There is truth in television. Stalkers are VERY CAPABLE to kill if they can’t be with their “oniichan”.

  90. SleepyTimeTay*

    OP, I’m so sorry for you. I wish I had words of advice, but all I can offer you are bunches of air hugs. None of this is your fault and you are an incredibly strong person.

  91. Not So NewReader*

    Boy, OP, my heart and thoughts go out to you. I’d say to let us know how you are doing but that might be unwise in the future. So I will wish you the best of the best right now.

    At least one person mentioned about visiting the district attorney for your county. I think this is one of the better suggestions here. (My opinion, only, of course.) Bring the DA the history of your story. Type it up, dates, places what happened and so on. Yes, basically build the foundation of his case. Spend some time writing this out and make multiple copies. Ask him/her if they can help you with this. Be sure to include all the times the police have backed away from helping you in your story time line. Note, you want to talk to the DA, not the assistant DA. You can ask them to run a criminal background check to find out if he is wanted anywhere or if he had prior charges. They may or may not tell you what they found, but that is okay at least THEY know. If the DA’s office has a victim’s advocate you want to talk to that person also.

    The thought strikes me that this guy has to have income from some where. I cannot imagine working full time and having time to do all this crap to another person. So one has to ask where does he get his money from. Be sure to mention that to the DA. There could be a one in a million chance that this dude ties into something the DA’s office is already aware of.

    My next random thought is to move to a state that has strong stalker laws. Then follow the advice about going to the DA in that state.

    Here’s a tidbit to hold on to. When you go to the DA’s office know that they are aware of legislation that is pending. You may find that a law is in the works that would be very helpful for you very soon.
    Again, OP, I will hold positive thoughts for you.

  92. JanetInSC*

    OP, I don’t know if this is helpful, but I would fight back before I leave a job I loved. Contact a lawyer, talk to the dean, and consider hiring a private investigator. (You need to know what this person is up to and where he goes.) Really, I just wish you could put a GPS locator on his car. Definitely keep mace, or wasp spray, on your person. Please update us…all of this is so horribly unfair.

  93. INFP Dude*

    To Alison or anyone that works in HR – Curious if he does tell the story about him being stalked and having to leave jobs after only being there for a short time, would that hurt him in the hiring process? Would anyone in HR think, “I don’t want a stalker coming around OUR workplace” or “He will just leave again in a year when the stalker finds him and we will have to hire another person for this job again.”

    OP – I am really sorry you’re dealing with this. Be safe. Give us an update if you can, I’m very interested in how this turns out!

    1. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

      I will preface this by saying that no victim of a stalker or domestic abuse should EVER give up hope. There are resources that can help. Women’s Law, Project Rising, Victims of Crime, NOVA are all good places to start looking for information on how to get started. Unfortunately, yes, new employers can be very hesitant to hire victims. Victims can face a number of issues.

      – Victims often can’t work in their chosen field for fear of their stalker finding them through it.
      – Often are hesitant to hire someone with short stints at different employers, especially if those employers are in different geographical locations.
      – Don’t want the “drama,” even if that drama was not the victim’s fault.
      – Won’t admit it, but don’t want to hire someone with the lasting PTSD that some stalking victims are left with (not all develop this but a good number do develop PTSD).
      – Don’t want to deal with the legal hassles that come with a victim who has a restraining order and other protections in place if the stalker is still active.
      – They also don’t like to hire a person who won’t give them a home address, which most victims can not give. This could be because they are living in protective housing or simply do not give out that information based on a security consultant’s recommendation.
      – The credit check issue. (see below)

      Housing can be another problem. There are some cities where landlords are allowed to evict tenants when cops are called to a unit too often. It doesn’t matter that the stalker or abuser is the cause. The victim is the one who is evicted and can be denied units in that city due to that eviction. It was meant as a tool to fight the “war on drugs” but it’s been a screwdriver in the abuser toolkit ever since. Victims can be forced to rely on extended stay hotels or even have to relocate to different areas because of these laws. Since they’re forced to move, an already spotty employment history becomes worse.

      Credit. Finally, the biggest problem. Having to do things like constantly move, buy new cars, pay court fees, repair things your abuser or stalker broke, pay for therapy, etc… this all costs a fortune. Constantly moving, having to skip out on leases, and those dreaded evictions can all hurt your credit history. Constantly changing jobs doesn’t help. Combine all of these and other issues (some stalkers and abusers like to financially screw with their victims for an extra twist of hell), and most victims have to rebuild their credit along with their lives. It can take years after the last incident and that can all be undone by even one reoccurrence where the victim has to pull up stakes and disappear again. New employers frequently run credit checks. Having a credit score that is in the tank is not considered a good sign. Especially when you can’t use a specific degree or skill for fear that it could lead your abuser back to you.

  94. Corrvin*

    I am so sorry to hear about this. In addition to having your name not appear where you do work or live— would it be possible to have your name appear in lots of other places? I mean, what if 50 libraries (and other businesses! I can think of lots of ways to drop a generic name in) listed your name as a “consultant” or what if your name was the new Joe Q. Sample on the library card application? The more places your name appears the harder it is to filter out where you actually are.

  95. A Nickname for AAM*

    Universities usually have good employee resources, I think you should pull out all the stops and go to HR asking for employee legal assistance. Chances are, HR will take this more seriously than others have.

    Does your university have an affiliated law school? There should be a professor there able to help you and at least point you in the right direction.

    You absolutely, 100%, need legal counsel at this point.

  96. cantaloupe*

    i’m not sure I agree with explaining to a prospective employer that you are avoiding a stalker. I doubt many employers would want to deal with that kind of situation and will find a way to weed you out. I would contact a Womens Center and ask them for some guidance. I am quite surprised at the police’s attitude about this–our local police are extremely proactive and will do everything they can right up to the line of the law to assist people who are being stalked and harassed.

  97. Goya de la Mancha*

    I’m dumbfounded that the school’s response to him “needing” access to the library was to give him your work schedule?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    I get that it’s a public school, but refund his tuition and revoke his access, c’mon people! A public building can still deny access for safety reason’s can’t they?

  98. Jeff*

    When you go to the police, site the Rebecca Schaeffer case. She was stalked for 3 years before the worst happened. This guy is mentally unbalanced and you need serious intervention before he goes over the edge.

  99. green*

    I agree with Jeff about citing Rebecca Schaeffer. OP, can I help you at all? I am in SF, CA. Agree with the case & desist letter, citing R.S., and go to court for a TRO (temp restraining order). I can draft a cease & desist letter for you but can’t put it on legal letterhead as I’m not a lawyer.

    This is ABSOLUTELY harassment. Stay safe.

    1. Formerly Stalked*

      Also, don’t forget Christina Grimmie. She was a (really awesome) youtube singer who had a crazy stalker who was super obsessed with her for years, but never actually initiated any sort of contact, until the day he walked up to her and shot her point blank. You just never know when someone will leap from “no threats” to doing the worst. :(

  100. GreenDoor*

    The OP mentioned her emails being public record as a state employee. I process public records requests for a living. I would urge OP, if she takes another govenrnment-sector position, to contact the person repsonsible for procesing public records requests. Give them (and the HR department so it’s on your personnel file) the stalker’s name (assuming you know it) and also mention that you have a valid fear for your safety. If you haven’t yet, seek a restraining order before you move (so it has your old address on it) and that will give you proof of the safety threat, even if you do move, it’s still a record that proves what you’re saying. State laws vary when it comes to releasing public records, but most government entities will be able to use “threat of safety” as a valid reason for denying him access to any records that pertain to you.

    I”m so sorry you’re dealing with this!!

  101. Rosie*

    This is horrifying. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, OP. In addition to the excellent suggestions from commenters above about taking steps to protect your personal safety, I want to recommend the book ‘The Gift of Fear’ by Gavin de Becker. De Becker is a security expert who advises clients from politicians to domestic violence survivors, and has very helpful advice on how to tell when a person/situation is becoming increasingly dangerous.

    I wish you strength and safety. Please keep us updated about your wellbeing when you can.

  102. Formerly Stalked*

    I am so sorry you’re going through this. As a person who had a stalker, this is my advice:

    Please file another police report. Even if they “can’t do anything”, file an official complaint. Then, file one EVERY time he contacts you, sends you something, etc. so they have a record. Press upon them that you feel unsafe and that you are worried he might do something (even if you can’t prove he will, let them know you believe he will). Also, if you can afford it, hire an attorney and have them send him a cease and desist. And find out what else you can do, like getting a restraining order. And tell your employer in no uncertain terms that he is a stalker, that he joined the school solely to stalk you, and that he is harassing you and causing you to feel unsafe. Basically, do everything in your power to make it as hard as possible for him to keep doing this unnoticed.

    Also, do not, ever, for any reason, respond to him. If he shows up when you’re there, walk away! Don’t be polite, don’t even acknowledge his presence. Walk away and call the police. Any sort of response will simply train him that persistence pays off. He might back off, but he might get more aggressive, and if that happens, keep reporting it!

    One last thing: Please note that you do not have to change your name and where you live just because of this psycho. If you want to, sure, but do NOT feel like you have to give up your life to deal with this. He is the one in the wrong, and he is the one who needs to feel the consequences. I’m so sorry. Be strong, and know that this is not your fault.

    TL;DR: Report him for everything, and get a lawyer so you can get a restraining order.

  103. No thanks*

    The Gift of Fear is a book that might give you strategies for dealing with this. I think it will also help you to assess how much of a threat this is. I t sounds pretty awful to me!

  104. Meghan*

    Hey OP, I completely agree with reading The Gift of Fear. I was stalked for several years and it provided me with some techniques on how to handle these types of situations. Additionally, please make sure to document these occurrences and continue to document them. It’s tedious but it can definitely help from a legal standpoint in the future. I’d also recommend having security walk you to your car after work if you have that ability. Please know that you’re not alone!

  105. Meghan*

    Additionally! Please be careful about issuing a restraining order. Restraining orders can be a double edge sword in that, legally it had something on file, but it can often intensify someone’s obsession and anger. Restraining orders only really work when someone is afraid of authority and the law. Your stalker has overridden several authority figures in the past (the school, security, etc), so I’d seek the advice of a professional before getting a restraining order.

  106. Saskia*

    OP I’m so sorry you are being stalked and that you haven’t been taken seriously by your employer and the police.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is taking paid leave. I wonder if you have access to any paid leave (or emergency personal leave)? And whether you might consider taking time away from your usual routine as you deal with the administrative side of problem solving?

    I’d like to repeat the suggestion made by others to consider taking time off from library work if you decide to leave your current city (or, take up an international scholarship or job instead).

    Since your field is not large I worry that your determined stalker will find you by just looking for changes in staff at academic libraries.

    It is gross and unfair that you are bearing the burden of changing your behaviour because of this man’s actions. But your life is precious, and worth protecting. You may choose to work in another field, or seek assistance to retrain, or not. I hope that you have sufficient resources to access the best advice from people who work with women who are being stalked.

    If I were in your situation, I’d get as much information from professionals as I could, then use the scorched earth approach and disappear in such a way that my former colleagues couldn’t inadvertently disclose my new name or location. But that’s just me, and it would not work for everyone.

    Best wishes.

  107. Fiona the Fierce*

    OP – I am so sorry that you are going through this. It can be quite terrifying to deal with someone who clearly has no concept of boundaries or reasonable behavior.

    I strongly encourage you to follow-up with the police at a higher level. I had a very similar experience in pre-internet days. The “regular” police I spoke with told me that I would have to “confront” the stalker in order to – I don’t know – provoke him (???) for them to intervene. I was able to get the case transferred to a police lieutenant who was much more knowledgeable and he intervened (actually found the guy’s address and had a meeting with him regarding his behavior), which helped re-direct somewhat. I was working two jobs at the time – one employer was supportive and the other was useless. I ended up moving many states away and leaving no forwarding information with anyone. Since this was “pre-internet” it was somewhat easier to disappear. This was also well before anti-stalking laws were common. There are now much more robust laws regarding this behavior.

    Here is one resource:

    1. FD*

      Someone is trespassed when a property owner has someone forbidden to come onto their property. That way, they can be arrested if they’re on the property in the future.

  108. anonamii*

    The fact that so many people have told you that he hasn’t done anything threatening is terrifying. The stalking itself is threatening.

    If I were you, I would change my first name legally to something extremely common, like a name that was in the top 5 during the year that you were born or a name that has been popular throughout many years. I’d then do the same thing with my last name, so that there are thousands upon thousands of people in the country who have the same name as you. Then, if you want, pick something you like for the middle name and use that in your personal life.

    This may seem extreme, but you have tried to do the expected things and have had no luck. Situations like this often end badly, especially when no one seems to be taking it as seriously as they should.

    I don’t see why it would an issue to keep your real name as a stage name that you only use for events. That way everything connected to you legally is under a name like Mary E Jones, but you can still participate in conventions and the like if you want.

    Last of all, I want to tell you how much this sucks. It is so wrong that you have to change your life around and even change your identity.

  109. Susan Ryan*

    It is time to pay serious attention to this stalker. Please have a detailed history done on this person. Is this a pattern? Do they have a criminal record? How about their assets? What is their car license plate number? Do you have cameras around your home? Is this person coming into your home or just around the outside? How do you know? Do you have a large dog that is trained to bark when anyone comes around your home? Have you hired a private investigator to check this person out? It is time to do this now. You must protect yourself and relying on police isn’t working. Do you have a gun? All of this sounds creepy but I handled annoyance calls for businesses in southern California for 5 years. There are some creepy people out there and this is one of them.

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