Stalking 101

When most people hear the word stalker, they think of someone hiding in the bushes with binoculars.  While this could be the case, it’s not the most accurate description of stalking. Here’s everything you need to know about stalking and what to do if you become a victim.

What’s stalking?

Stalking is defined as a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, contact, or harassment that causes a reasonable person to feel afraid or unsafe. When most people think of stalking, they think of being followed or watched. However, it is possible for someone to harass you online and through other communication devices. This is sometimes referred to as cyber stalking.

Most people think of stalkers as creepy strangers, but that isn’t always the case. A stalker could be someone you know like a friend, coworker, or family member. They can also be a lover or an exboyfriend or girlfriend.

Who’s affected?

Men and women can be affected by stalking. According to statistics, 1 in 6 women and 1 and 19 men have experienced stalking in their lifetime. The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone he or she knows.

What does stalking look like?

While the legal definition of what constitutes stalking from state to state,there a few things to look out for.

  • Showing up uninvited or announced to your workplace or home
  • Leaving unwanted gifts
  • Calling and hanging up
  • Following and spying on you (online or offline)
  • Unwanted social media contact/emails
  • Damaging property
  • Making direct or indirect threats to cause harm to you, friends, family members, children, or pets
  • Spreading rumors about you
  • Waiting for you at your favorite hangouts
  • Monitoring phone or computer use
  • Tracking you with hidden cameras and tracking devices

What can I do to help myself?

If you are in immediate danger call 911! Any threats made towards you shouldn’t be taken lightly. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. If you feel like you are in danger, you probably are.

If you’re not in immediate danger, go through the proper channels and report it to the police. Be sure to save all voice mails, texts, letters, notes, emails, unwanted gifts, photos, cards, and social media contact. You should also take pics of any damage or injuries they’ve caused to you, others, or your property. The police will need it for evidence. If there is enough evidence, you can use it to get a protection order or file other charges.

Tell people you trust about what is happening. That way, if anything were to happen you someone would know. You should also alert security at work or school so they can help protect you if need be.

You should also work with family or friends to develop a safety plan. A safety plan should include making changes in your routine, having an alternative place stay and people who can accompany you places.

What can I do to help a friend?

The best thing you can do help a friend that is being stalked is to be supportive. Listen to his or her concerns. Don’t judge or blame them for what is happening. If you feel like you are also in danger, take necessary precautions.

For more resources and to get more information check out the Domestic Violence Hotline, Stalking Resource Center, Love is Respect and The United States Department of Justice.

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