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RandomGirl's avatar

[Details inside] Can you give me some advice for this sticky situation?

Asked by RandomGirl (3357points) April 14th, 2013

Sorry if this gets long.

There’s this guy who’s been coming to my church for about 3 years. I don’t know much about him (largely because no one will talk about him), but he gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Here’s what I actually know.

-He lives in a group home.
-He’s had problems with addiction and his anger in the past.
-He works in a “supported employment” program, PHASE.
-He doesn’t have a driver’s license and calls my dad once every week or two for a ride.
-No one in the church feels comfortable giving him rides (and they won’t tell me why). They’ve told my parents specifically not to give him a ride with my sister and me in the car.
-None of us know why (and if they know why, they won’t tell me), but none of the girls in the church are allowed to talk to him.
-He has personal space issues and is generally awkward.
-One day a few months ago, he came into the store where I work (on my day off). He asked several people about what I do for work, when I work, and even asked one gal if she knew where I lived. Obviously, no one gave him any information, but he did confirm that I still worked there. In the few months since, whenever he sees me, he asks if I’m still working there, and says he’s going to “come visit me”. <<internal cringe>> My coworkers say they’ve seen him in the store several times since then, but I haven’t.
-One day last summer, I was running an errand for my boss, and we happened to run into each other. I brushed him off very coldly, saying, “I’m very busy,” without slowing down or hardly looking at him. I didn’t look back to make sure it was him, but I’m fairly certain I heard his bike behind me for a few blocks.
-I cringe at the idea of drawing a conclusion on a person’s character from this, but it has to count for something: My heart starts pounding whenever he talks to me, especially if I’m on my own. Adrenaline kicks in and I go into fight-or-flight mode. I just have to get away! I’ve even hung out in the women’s bathroom to avoid him.

So here’s what I wanted to ask.
1) Am I justified in being so creeped out by him?
2) Last week, he found out my work hours. I have to work tomorrow, and he said he’d be “visiting” me. If your answer to my first question was yes, why? What kind of problems might he cause me? Would I be justified in asking my boss if I could work in the far corner of the store, where this guy would be less likely to see me? I definitely don’t want to be stuck alone with this guy.
3) I have a feeling people in my church know more about this guy than they have told me, and they would know if he’d be a problem for me at work. Should I just be more persistent in asking them about him?

Am I overreacting?

And yes, that did get long. Sorry about that! You so rock if you read through all that.

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29 Answers

hearkat's avatar

No. You’re not over-reacting if people are being told to not have girls interact with him. Tell your parents what is happening, and they might be able to contact the administrators for the Group Home where he resides to see what can be done to keep him away from you.

Working in health care, I deal with people from Group Homes pretty regularly, and their abilities and limitations vary greatly. If there are official warnings being given, then there is a reason for them. Better safe than sorry.

chyna's avatar

Have you told your parents all of this? If he is a threat to young girls, you should be aware of that information.
If your parents won’t tell you any more about him, ask your minister after telling him that the man keeps showing up at your job asking about you.

RandomGirl's avatar

@chyna and @hearkat: Yes, my parents know the entire story.

josie's avatar

All of this illustrates how important it is for people to have to the strength of character to
1. Learn how to tell weirdos to get the fuck lost
2. Learn how to defend themselves if the weirdos do not get the fuck lost.
Do both.

glacial's avatar

It isn’t fair that you are being put in a situation where you can’t control whether he interacts with you, and yet no one will tell you in what way he is dangerous. If I were you, I would insist that your parents tell you what happened, so that you can judge for yourself whether you are in danger when the two of you are interacting.

I would also tell my employer that his visits are unwelcome. It sounds like you work in retail – does the store have any security? Or is it in a mall that has security? You should inform them that this guy is giving you unwanted attention, so that if you have to call them, they are prepared to support you. Similarly, your employer may be able to put himself between the two of you if an encounter is uncomfortable. You’ll have to decide whether this is something you can ask of your employer, though. Some will be helpful, some won’t.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I feel sorry for people who generate fear on feable information.
If you are worried, have a chaparone ( co worker) stand beside you or sit beside you as you confront the boy in a civil way.
You could let him talk first to find out whats on his mind,or you could just tell him about your
how his behavior is upsetting you?
Then let him know that you are too young to get involved with him at this stage in your life.
Try and let him down lightly as he probably has had a rough life and does not need more aggrivation from over exagerrated fears, that are making the rounds.

He probably would not be sent to a Group Home IF he was that dangerous!
The poor soul and their are many in this same perdicament is trying to live a normal life and deserves our understanding.

RandomGirl's avatar

@glacial Nope, it’s a sleepy, old drug store on main street in our town of 10,000 people. The only security we have would be the police, a few blocks away.

glacial's avatar

@RandomGirl And is your employer supportive? Can he tell the guy to leave if he’s bothering you?

RandomGirl's avatar

@glacial My boss is the pharmacist. It would have to be quite a situation for him to have a reason to come out of the pharmacy. He would be supportive, but he doesn’t really spend time in the actual store.

CWOTUS's avatar

Turn the tables and get to the facts of this. The idea that no one will tell you information that everyone else seems to know is abhorrent to me, especially as you seem to be of particular interest to him.

Tell your parents he asked you on a date and you’ve agreed to go, since you know of no reason why you shouldn’t. Then leave the room.

I’ll bet you have the story within a half hour.

glacial's avatar

@RandomGirl Nonetheless, if you are being harrassed in the store, whether you know the person or not, he should know that this is happening. Just as he would have to know if it were happening to a customer.

I don’t agree with @CWOTUS that you should lie to your parents, but if necessary, tell them the things that you imagine he might have done, since no one will tell you. If the truth is as bad, it will be easier for them to acknowledge it, and if it’s not nearly as bad, then they’ll be motivated to ease your mind.

bea2345's avatar

This is harassment and should be reported. It is potentially dangerous, both to you and him. Get your parents to make a complaint to the group home or whoever is responsible for caring for this obviously disturbed individual.

Buttonstc's avatar

You really NEED THE FACTS here. You’re obviously old enough handle the correct info and you deserve it.

Who are the referenced “they” who told your parents to not give him a ride if you and your sister were in the car? Are they just church gossips or are they operating from verifiable facts ?

In depriving you of the facts here, you’re parents aren’t really protecting you even if they think they are. No one benefits from ignorance. If this guy has been dangerous to others in the past, you need to know that.

Just tell your parents that you need to have a talk with them. Thank them for their protective instincts toward you, but politely tell them that you will do whatever’s necessary to get the facts if they continue to refuse to tell you (whether this means going to the minister of the church or the director of the group home).

Then you can work with them (or whoever gives you the facts) to develop a solid plan of action for the next time this guy approaches you.

You should not have to live your life in fear and looking over your shoulder. But half of that’s fear of the unknown. You have every right to know what you’re dealing with here.

Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself (either with this guy or with those who are keeping you in the dark)

Shining a bright light on this is your best protection.y

Judi's avatar

Why haven’t you talked to your Dad about what’s been happening? (edit, sorry just saw your post. What do your parents suggest you do?) I’m sure that if he knows more than he’s telling you you will know from his immediate reaction.
Also you can always go down to the court house and ask to see his arrest record. I did that once when everyone was hush hush about a pastors arrest, but that’s a whole different story.
Finally, your instincts are there for a reason. Trust them.

Buttonstc's avatar

And if you need a little backup, give them Mark 4:22, 23.

marinelife's avatar

Listen to your intuition.You don’t want anything to do with this guy. Tell your father about him saying he is going to “visit” you at work. Tell your boss. Tell him you are uncomfortable with the guy.

Consider getting a restraining order against him. You could look up his conviction record. He may be violating the conditions of his parole.

Buttonstc's avatar

By the way, I should have asked this sooner. Exactly WHAT TYPE OF group home is this?

Is it a sober-living house, a mental health group home, or one for those who’ve been incarcerated ? What’s the deal with this ?

And if everyone in the church seems to be talking about this guy, where is their info coming from ? The grapevine? Each other? The guy himself ? The group home?

If everyone’s talking about him why are they so reluctant to share the facts with you? Perhaps, because they don’t have any ?
?

Honestly, the amount of gossip constantly swirling around in “loving” Christian assemblies would make Jesus Christ himself puke in disgust. IIt’s ridiculous.

Presumably this is a church you’ve been going to for some significant amount of time, right? And none of these people can give you the straight dope on this guy? That is just ridiculous.

If they have pertinent facts about this guy being a potential danger then they should be willing to share those facts with you for your own protection. To refuse is irresponsible and UN Christian.

But if they don’t have accurate info, they should just keep their mouths firmly shut instead busybody gossiping and stigmatizing someone needlessly.

But in either case, follow your instincts and do whatever you must to protect yourself .

RandomGirl's avatar

@Buttonstc: The possibility of it all being gossip is certainly viable. Any group of people is going to harbor some amount of ill will.

RandomGirl's avatar

So, how exactly would I go about getting information about, or contacting, the group home? I have no idea what kind of home it is. That would definitely be good information. I tried googling “group homes in __________” but that didn’t help.

CWOTUS's avatar

1. Google the address of the home and see what comes up.
2. Go to Zillow.com and check the ownership there.

snowberry's avatar

My question is, since everyone, including your parents, are so closed mouthed about this, and that they put definite boundaries about young girls interacting with him, why is the guy who’s giving him a ride to work (your dad) not talking to him? Ask your dad to tell him, “Stop following my daughter around and leave her alone. If you don’t stop, I’m going to stop giving you rides, and the police WILL be involved.” Have you asked your dad why he’s not being more proactive on your behalf? If he’s going to your church, have you spoken to your pastor about this and if so, why hasn’t he done more?

My daughter lives in another state and went through a similar situation. The pastor became very pro-active on her behalf.

Besides this guy’s general weird behavior, the behavior of your parents and the church people are very strange indeed, and very unacceptable. If they think this behavior is Christian, they are wrong, because they are not protecting the innocent.

I think you have every right to walk into the police station and tell them what’s going on. They need to know, and I would be surprised if they weren’t very very interested in your situation. They might even tell you something.

There is also a national sexual offender list or registry, with multiple links for various organizations that keep track of such information. See if he’s on it. Google it for your state, and see what comes up.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Look up the Inmate Infomation/Supervision site for the Department of Corrections for your state.
For example: here is NYs Inmate Information site

Type in his name and see if he was in prison, what crime he committed, what supervision he is under. The facts. It won’t be all inclusive but it will give you an idea. Low level and low risk offenders are not always listed.

Even if he is not listed, if he creeps you out, he creeps you out. You do not have to stand for it.
I’d say those Christians are not behaving very Christianly.

Cupcake's avatar

I love @snowberry‘s advide to look on a sex offender registry and see if you can find him and to have your dad tell this guy to stay away from you, as well as other advice to look up his arrest record.

Please, please talk to the authorities/elders in your church. They should have more information than you have and should be charged with keeping people in their congregation safe.

While it’s so important to listen to your intuition, I sincerely hope that people are not overreacting and shunning someone who is trying to stay clean and merely has limited social skills. Gossip and not directly sharing with the congregation what safety concerns exist about specific individuals can be dangerous.

RandomGirl's avatar

@snowberry: I should’ve clarified that, while this guy calls my dad once every week or two for a miscellaneous ride, my dad never actually does it.

Buttonstc's avatar

There have been numerous people suggesting she look up his name on prison lists and sex offender registries. I just have a few simple questions here.

1.) Did anyone bother to check out the link provided in the details of the Q regarding the work program in which he is a pparticipant ?
Here is a direct quote from their website:

” Who We Are

We are non-profit human service agency that provides an array of employment-based services to adults with a diagnosis of a developmental disability, traumatic brain injury, or severe and persistent mental illness.”

They currently have two businesses which train and employ their clients; one is a recycling center and the other is a furniture building enterprise. In other words, basically a sheltered workshop type of situation.

2.) Do you honestly think that IF HE WERE either a former prisoner or a sexual predator, that he would be placed in with some of the most vulnerable people in our society ? That kind of boggles the mind, don’t you think ?

Let’s put on our thinking caps, shall we ? Since he is in this program, according to THEIR stated criteria, he has been diagnosed with either retardation, brain injury, or severe mental illness.

And that’s the type of person who gives many people the “heebie-jeebies” and most especially if they don’t have any accurate unbiased info regarding the person (and tons of people whispering and gossiping behind his back and ominously warning their daughters against even talking to him)

Obviously he’s pretty clueless about invading personal space when interacting with people, but does that automatically spell sex predator ?

Most of them (sexual predators) are quite the opposite; they’re generally pretty slick and manipulative and know how to ingratiate themselves with people. Think about it for a second. If they did not have those types of necessary social skills, they’d hardly be successful in their pursuits since everyone they encounter would avoid them like the plague.

It appears that this poor guy has all the social finesse of a bull in a China shop. That looks more like retardation or brain damage than it does a cunning predator, at least to me it does.

And I see no indication that he was ever told, politely or otherwise, by ANYBODY that it is inappropriate for him to be showing up at her place of work. Everyone is assuming that he should know better and is purposely stalking her.

But what if he genuinely doesn’t know any better (if he’s currently in a sheltered workshop situation, it’s pretty unlikely hes ever had a regular job and the responsibilities it entails.) Should we assume that every adult should know this regardless of how developmentally disabled ?

Perhaps, if she just looked him square in the eye and told him firmly that when she’s at work, her boss does not expect her to be socializing with anyone so it’s not appropriate for him to come to her workplace, stated clearly and firmly that would get the point across without calling out the SWAT team?

Oh, that’s right, I forgot. She is not permitted to talk to him for reasons not clear to her. And who issued this nebulous decree and why is not clear either. Can we safely assume that this was done by someone in authority and not just a bunch of parents distrustful of the “other” ?

Of course, I could be completely wrong in my read on this guy but so also could every other participant in this thread because there is so much innuendo here and so little facts.

And, to be clear, I’m not saying that she’s obligated to befriend this guy or have anything to do with him at all. But it would be at least marginally considerate to not assume the very worst of motives on his part based on almost zero accurate info about him.

I am responding mostly to @RandomGirl and her own very honest and straightforward reply to my last post, and I quote her own words in case anyone missed it:

“The possibility of it ALL being gossip is certainly viable”

____________________________________________________________

And I think we could all benefit from the wise words of @Cupcake:

” While it’s so important to listen to your intuition, I sincerely hope that people are not overreacting and shunning someone who is trying to stay clean and merely has limited social skills. Gossip and not directly sharing with the congregation what safety concerns exist about specific individuals can be dangerous.”

Cupcake's avatar

@Buttonstc I had not checked out the link. My gut said developmentally delayed and greatly misunderstood… but I have had experience with a known pedophile in my religious community, so my advice came from that experience. Thank God in my case, the man was provided with a combination of love-for-fellow-man and very clear and firm boundaries that were shared with the whole community.

RandomGirl's avatar

@Buttonstc Good points! I hadn’t even thought of that! Thank you. I think it should be fine.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Buttonstc I lurve you! You are right.

bea2345's avatar

@RandomGirl – 1. you should report this man to your boss, because when you are on his premises, he is responsible for your safety and 2. go to the home and lodge a complaint, preferably in writing. If all else fails, go to the police.

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