Stalking is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states. A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but men do stalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.
Some things stalkers do:
- Repeatedly call you, including hang ups.
- Follow you and show up where ever you are.
- Sends unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or emails.
- Damages your home, car, or other property.
- Monitors your phone calls or computer use.
- Uses technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
- Threatens to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records, online searches, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not to blame for a stalker’s behavior.
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
Things you can do:
- If you are in immediate danger call 911.
- Trust your instincts. Don’t always downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalk talks about suicide or murder, or when the victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Contact a crisis hotline, victim service agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, refer you to other services, and weigh options such as seeking a protection order.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to sty, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advanced what to do if the stalk shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you.
- Don’t communicate with the stalking or respond to attempts to contact you.
- Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, phone messages, letters, and notes, Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Click this link to see an example of a Stalking Log.
- Contact police. Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
- Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
- Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
6.6 million people are being stalked each year in the United States.
Women are talked a rate three times higher than men.
If you are stalked you might:
Feel fear of what the stalker will do
Feel vulnerable, unsafe, and not know who to trust
Feel anxious, irritable, impatient, or on edge
Feel depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, tearful, or angry
Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping, or remembering things
Have eating problems, such as appetite loss, forgetting to eat, or overeating
Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories
Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid
These are common recreations to being stalked.
If someone you know is being helped you can help. Listen. Show support. Don’t blame the victim for the crime. Remember that every situation is different, and allow the person being stalked to make choices about how to handle it. Find someone you can talk to about the situation. Take steps to ensure your own safety.
Reach out for help before it’s too late. Call us on our 24 hour hotline at 1-877-379-3798.
For more information visit the Stalking Resource Center Website www.ncvc.org/src