Sending unwanted gifts or cards, showing up at your home, school or other places without being invited, spying on you.
Using the internet, cell phones, social media and other technology to harass someone with false accusations, threats or spamming, or monitoring someone’s activities.
Maybe you thought it was just a coincidence that the same person kept showing up wherever you were: at school, work, the gym, social events. Maybe when the cards and gifts first started arriving, you thought it was romantic to have a secret admirer. But now…
- You’re starting to feel uncomfortable or even a little afraid.
- When you leave home, you’re looking over your shoulder.
- You’ve started turning down invitations from your friends to go to public events.
- You’re even hesitant to answer your phone or read your text messages because that person just won’t stop contacting you, even if you don’t respond.
- Messages from that person have gotten a little angry or threatening, and are coming from a variety of sources: your phone, the mail, email, text messages, or social media accounts.
These are all indications that you are being stalked.
Still not sure? Here are some examples:
- You keep receiving cards or gifts at home or work from an unidentified person or someone with whom you have broken off relations.
- Your home or car is damaged or defaced.
- Your inbox is flooded with vulgar, obscene, hateful, or threatening messages and images 5 or you keep getting harassing at all hours of the day or night.
- Wherever you are, the same person unexpectedly appears, and even if he or she doesn’t make any direct contact, you know you are being watched.
- You are constantly getting online comments, likes or messages from the same person, either on your social media accounts, your blog or other online sites.
- There have been attempts to hack into your accounts.
One in six women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking in their lifetimes. About half of all victims of stalking indicated that they were stalked before the age of 25, and about 14% of female victims and 16% of male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17.
Don’t let the stalker force you into hiding or keep you from getting help. Stalking is about exerting power and causing fear. Stalkers can be stopped.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and report what is happening, where you are and who you think is stalking you.
- Take precautions. Avoid being alone, don’t answer your door unless you know who is there and be aware of your surroundings and those around you when you are in public.
- Contact the police. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and at the federal level. Ask about obtaining a protective order or other court order that prohibits the stalker from contacting or being near you.
- Tell your family, friends, trusted co-workers and neighbors about the stalking and the stalker to help build a supportive safety network.
- Document every stalking incident as thoroughly as possible. Keep any messages, packages or cards sent by the stalker. Take photos of any damage you think the stalker committed, and save email, text and phone messages as proof. 12 (Download the Stalking Incident and Behavior Log.)
- Consider changing your regular routine, staying with a friend or family, installing call blocking or caller ID and changing your phone number and e-mail address.
- Be cautious what you post on social media, since that can give your stalker information about where you are, where you’re going, who you are seeing or what you are doing.
- Make sure that your ISP and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network have an acceptable use policy that prohibits cyberstalking. And if your network fails to respond to your complaints, consider switching to a provider that is more responsive to user complaints.
- Stalking can cause physical and emotional issues, such as anger, frustration, depression, and hopelessness, trouble sleeping, eating, and focusing, and other health problems. Get help from a health professional and counselor to deal with the impact.
- Living on campus? Know the location of all the security checkpoints are at your residence and who you should notify if you think you are being stalked and what resources are available to keep you safe.
- Consider how many places may have your personal information and tell them not to share it with anyone.
- Have your computer checked for spyware and consider disabling the option on your phone that gives out your location or includes location data on photos.
Stalking behavior includes:
Unwanted phone calls or voice messages
Appearing at places frequented by the victim without having a reason for being there
If Someone You Know is Being Stalked
Three in four stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, with those 18 to 24 experiencing the highest rate of stalking.
- Share your concern and offer to help in any way that you can.
- Take notes about any stalking incident your friend shares and keep a copy.
- Encourage your friend to talk to the police and file a report.
- If possible, provide your friend with a place to stay.
- Reassure your friend that he or she is not alone, this won’t go one forever and there are actions that can be taken legally to stop the stalking.
4 http://victimsofcrime.org/docs/default-source/src/stalking- fact-sheet- 2015_eng.pdf?sfvrsn=2
7 http://www.loveisrespect.org/content/what-online- stalking/
8 http://www.loveisrespect.org/content/what-online- stalking/
14 http://www.loveisrespect.org/content/what-online- stalking/
18 http://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking- resource-center/help- for-victims/stalking- safety-planning
21 http://www.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime- and-personal- safety/teen-victims- of-crime