The thought of having someone relentlessly perusing you and keeping track of your every move is scary. If you have never been stalked, consider yourself lucky, especially if you are a woman. According to the Stalking Resource Center, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have been stalked at some point in their lives. What’s even more shocking is that most stalking victims know their perpetrators.
No one knows for certain why stalkers do what they do. Experts suspect there are genetic factors that predispose people for stalking meaning, most of them have likely exhibited similar behavior in the past.
There can be several reasons people stalk others, but the primary reason behind most stalking behavior is the need for control. Some of the things an offender may do to gain control include:
- monitoring your computer use
- tapping your phone to listen to your calls
- making threats against you, your friends, family and pets
- following you around or showing up wherever you are
- driving by your house or job
- damaging your house, car, or other belongings
- rummaging through your trash to find out more about you
- searching public records and doing Internet searches to learn about you
- hiring private investigators to follow you around and take pictures
- spreading rumors about you online or in public places
- sending you unwanted letters, gifts, cards and flowers
- tracking your moves with GPS devices
- installing spy cams in your home
When you are stalked, you may feel vulnerable and live in fear because you are afraid of what the perpetrator is going to do next. You become paranoid and begin to distrust everyone around you. For instance, when you go to the grocery store, you might think the man standing behind you in the checkout line is going to hurt you. Being subjected to this kind of stress can affect every aspect of your life and eventually lead to:
- anxiousness and irritability
- eating problems
- confusion and frustration
- depression and hopelessness
- sleep problems
- problems concentrating
How to Deal With being stalked
Stalking is a crime that should not be ignored. This behavior is serious. Over time, it can escalate into violence or death. The first thing to do if you are being stalked is call your local police department and tell them what’s happening. They may not be able to do anything until there is evidence, but it is important to make them aware of what is going on. This is what you do if you suspect Being stalked!
Always trust your instincts. It is tempting to ignore that little voice inside of you that signals when something is wrong. If you get the feeling that you are in danger, you probably are.
Never communicate with a stalker. These people are not sane and they cannot be reasoned with. They will feed off of any attention they get from their victims.
Take threats seriously. Stalkers who threaten violence are the most dangerous kind. If an ex boyfriend or girlfriend is threatening to hurt you, kill you, or commit suicide, don’t brush it off. Call the police immediately.
Keep evidence. Every time the stalker follows you, shows up at your job, or calls you on the phone, write down the times and dates. Also, keep all of the emails, cards, letters and gifts the offender sends you to use as evidence against him.
Call a crisis hotline. The people who work in these services are trained professionals. They can point you to local resources and help you come up with a plan of action so you can protect yourself.
Come up with a safety plan. Know ahead of time what you will do if the stalker comes to your house or job. Have a safe place to go just in case you have to get out in a hurry. Also, arrange to have a friend or family member go with you when you need to run errands.
In addition to the steps listed above, tell others about your situation. Your friends, family, coworkers and security officers at your job can offer support and help look out for you. Also, consider getting a restraining order that prohibits the offender from having any contact with you. Most importantly, call the authorities anytime you feel like you are in immediate danger. Learn about safety for your loved ones now!