What is Stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of 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 threatened. Many people believe that stalking only happens to celebrities or other high profile people but stalking can happen to anyone. In fact 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. Though a stalker can be a stranger, most know their victims in some way whether it be through a mutual friend or more directly. Stalkers can be your “best friend”, a partner, an ex-partner, a family member or a co-worker.
Stalking can involve threats or sexual innuendo and the stalker generally tries to intimidate or induce fear in the person they are stalking. Victims may only realize they are being stalked once they identify a pattern of strange or suspicious incidents occurring, such as:
• Repeated undesired contact (phone calls, text messages, emails, letters, showing up unexpectedly, etc.)
• Messages left on social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
• Notes left on their car
• Flowers left at their home
• An awareness that they are being followed
• Being continually stared at by another person
• Making threats to the individual and/or his/her family
Signs of Stalking
Stalking is serious, often violent and can escalate over time. Stalkers express their feelings in suspiciously obsessive and deceitful ways:
- Following you and show up wherever you are.
- Sending unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
- Damaging your home, car, or other property.
- Monitoring your phone calls or computer use.
- Using technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Driving by or hanging out at your home, school, or work.
- Threatening to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Finding out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
- Acting in other ways that control or frighten you.
If you are a victim of stalking, remember, you are not to blame for a stalker’s behavior. In the event that you are being stalked you should inform your family, friends, supervisors, co-workers, and law enforcement of what is going on so that they can help you to avoid all contact with the perpetrator. At Center of Hope we understand how terrifying being a victim of stalking can be and the toll it can take on your life. It’s completely normal for victims of stalking to develop a sense of loss of control over their lives as stalking not only interrupts life at home and work but it affects your relationships. We have helped hundreds of stalking victims find the services and support they need to help them deal with the emotional, psychological and physical effects of stalking.