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Stalking is often gone unnoticed until it is too late. In one year, 7.5 million people were stalked in the U.S. One in six women and one in nineteen me have experienced being stalked at some point. Most females, 61%, are stalked by someone they know.
There misconceptions about stalking. Many would have you believe that “stalking” victims are people who are just playing hard to get. Then they change their minds. No. In addition, you might here that stalking has no impact on the victim or that a victim could have avoided the entire situation if they had just said no. A stalker doesn’t play by the “rules”. No doesn’t mean no to them.
What is staking? It is a pattern of behavior that makes you feel harassed, uneasy, afraid, or that you may be in danger. The U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) defines stalking as a pattern of repeated, unwanted contact, harassment or attention directed at a specific person that would cause them to feel fear. The DOJ also identifies acts of stalking to include repeated, unwanted communications via phone or internet, including text messages, email, and social media; sending unwanted items such as gifts or flowers; following or showing up at a person’s place of work, residence, school or recreation; damaging one’s property; and/or making direct or indirect threats towards a person, or their family, friends or pets.
Are you being staked? If you answered yes, what do you do? First, do not respond to the communications. A stalker feels they have power and control over you. Any response, even “leave me alone” or “stop texting me”, they have successfully manipulated you to get a response. Don’t respond. You DO want to save any written communication to include texts, emails and social media. Secondly, if the stalker has made indirect or direct threats to harm you, family, friends or pets, call local law enforcement and file a report immediately. Make sure you are safe. The stalker may threaten suicide in order to try to manipulate you. Call law enforcement. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated. Third, make changes to your electronics. If they are using your computer or cell phone to stalk you, you may want to think about getting new ones. Why? Because they may be infected with spyware or GPS tracking. You should change your email address and change your phone number. When giving out your new email address, be sure to tell people that you have to change your email for safety reasons and don’t give your email out without permission. Change your passwords for everything. And lastly, ensure you keep safe. If you feel you have been, or are being stalked, change your daily routines. Let people know where you are going. Make sure you keep your doors and windows secure at your home. Be are of your surroundings.
You are still being stalked, now what? If you are in immediate or imminent danger, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, call our Crisis Line 770-460-1604. You may qualify for a stalking order. Just remember, it is just a piece of paper. You still need to take precautions to keep yourself safe and defend yourself if needed. If you were successful in obtaining a stalking protection order, be sure to keep a copy with you at all times. Let your employer know what is going on as well. If they are violating the order, call 9-1-1. Keep everything that is sent to you, mailed to you, texted to you for evidence. Take screen shots of posts that may later be deleted. Keep a log for each time they make contact with you, drive by your house, or show up at your job. Document everything.
Stalking isn’t romantic, even though the movie industry wants you to think it is. Stalking can be scary, and cause you to be afraid to go anywhere or do anything. The end doesn’t end up as “happily ever after”.