A young man you have just met has started to come across your eyes suspiciously often in various places, somehow knows your phone number and home address, and periodically leaves you notes or gifts in your mailbox? What is this – a show of caring and sweet courtship? The bad news is that this is stalking and you probably shouldn’t start a romantic relationship with this person.
What does “stalker” mean
Stalking or stalking is unwanted and intrusive attention from one person to another. It often takes the form of actions that are not crimes in themselves, but grossly violate personal boundaries: phone calls, letters and gifts, frequent “casual” meetings in public places. But in one way or another, stalking is aimed at showing the victim power over him and intimidating him. For example, flowers left on the doorstep show that the stalker knows where the object of his lust lives.
How common is stalking
In the United States alone, 6.6 million people experience stalking. That said, many countries have legal frameworks in place to protect the victim of a stalker and to bring legal charges if necessary.
– The most common victims of male stalkers are women (63%)
– 46% of stalkers visit their victims at least once a week
– 78% of stalkers use more than one “method” of stalking
– More than 60% of stalkers start stalking their victim again or find another one after they have stopped for some reason
What can be considered stalking
Stalking is a repetitive action that causes the victim to feel fear. A stalker can be a longtime acquaintance or a completely random person.
The most common manifestations of stalking are:
– Showing up at your home, work or school uninvited and without good reason;
– Sending unwanted messages and letters;
– Unwanted gifts and flowers;
– Constant calls that end with you interrupting the conversation or going silent on the phone;
– Tracking your life on social media;
– Spreading rumors among your acquaintances;
– Waiting in places you frequent;
– Using your friends and acquaintances to find out details about your life.
What to do if you are a victim of stalking
Many victims do not know how to respond to a stalker. Some try to talk to the stalker, and try to “hint” or “friendly” to convince them to stop the behavior. Some convince themselves that there is nothing wrong with the stalker’s behavior and it is “not that bad.” Others try to confront or even threaten the stalker. These methods rarely work, because stalkers are happy for any contact with the victim, even if the overall message was negative.
The victim cannot predict the stalker’s actions, but can develop his or her own line of behavior to help him or her feel safe. Personal safety and prevention of possible harm should be paramount. Victims can develop a safety plan that will protect them and their loved ones from persecution.
General safety tips
If at all possible, keep your phone nearby at all times. Memorize emergency numbers and make sure someone in your family or friends is on speed dial.
Change your routes to regularly visit necessary points in town. Limit the time you spend alone and shop at different stores.
When you leave home, try not to be alone and choose public places.
Get a new phone number.
Do not communicate with the person who is stalking you. Reacting to a stalker can only make things worse.
Trust your instincts. If somewhere you don’t feel safe, either find ways to make the place safer or leave.
Home safety rules
Install sturdy doors that only you will have keys to.
Ask your neighbors to call the police if they see a stalker in your home. Agree on a signal you will use if you need to call the police right away.
Pack a bag of essentials in case you have to leave the apartment right away. Put the bag in a safe place or give it to a friend or family member you trust.
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