Being stalked is a terrifying experience. If it happens to you, it can have devastating effects on your psychological, emotional, and physical well-being. That’s why it’s so important to stay safe. Here are 16 things every woman should know about stalking.
It’s probably more common than you think. Although it seems like something that mainly happens in psychological thriller movies, stalking is scarily common. It happens to 1 in 12 women, and approximately 1.4 million people are stalked annually in the US. It’s important to know that behavior is legally classified as stalking if the person’s actions are repeated and unwanted by you.
There are many ways someone can stalk you. It’s not just about sending you creepy gifts or hanging around outside your place of work. There are many other stalking behaviors, such as the person making persistent phone calls, making threats to you or your family, threatening to kill themselves unless you do what they say, slandering your character, and objectifying you.
Some stalking behaviors are more common than others. The Supplemental Victimization Survey, which was conducted by the US Department of Justice, found that the most common stalking behaviors were unwanted phone calls, spreading rumors about the person, and sending unsolicited emails. In addition, over one in four people said that cyberstalking, such as sending lots of instant messages, was often used by the stalker.
You probably know your stalker. You might think stalkers are people you don’t know, and there are people who can become obsessed with you when they don’t even know you. Still, it’s true that most stalkers are known by their targets.
The rejected stalker is one of the most common. This is someone you romantically reject, whether by breaking up with them or refusing to date them in the first place. They start stalking you to try to get you back or to take revenge on you. This type of stalker tends to greater than normal levels of jealousy and narcissism and is known as one of the most determined as well as intrusive type. He/she is likely to resort to intimidation and even assault.
The vengeful stalker is another phenomenon. This person stalks people out of a need to frighten them. Why? He or she feels hurt by the person and wants to hurt them back. The personality of this stalker tends to be paranoid. He/she commonly uses verbal abuse against his/her targets and can be an enduring and obsessive kind of stalker.
Then there’s the predatory stalker. This stalker wants to attack his/her victims sexually and wants power as well as sexual gratification. He/she often has low social skills, lower than average intelligence, and low self-esteem. Some common behaviors this stalker tends to display include rude phone calls, surveillance, and exhibitionism. While this stalker tends to stalk victims for a shorter time than others, he/she has a greater chance of using physical violence.
Don’t forget about the delusional stalker. This stalker wants to have a relationship with his/her target, who he/she believes loves them. This person tends to be shy and isolated. Common behaviors include writing or emailing the target, making unwanted phone calls, or sending gifts. This stalker is one of the most persistent and can ignore legal sanctions against them because they view them as a challenge.
You need to get a support system. There’s safety in numbers, but a solid support system can also help you to deal with the stress of being stalked. That’s why it’s important to open up to those around you who can offer you help or a shoulder to cry on. Remember, a stalker wants to isolate you because then they feel they have greater control over you. Don’t give them that!
Don’t share your location online! You might regularly tag yourself in photos on social media that show your friends and followers your current location. This makes it way too easy for a stalker to track your movements, so stop location tagging online.
Make your tech safer. Approximately 40% of people who have contacted the National Stalking Helpline in the UK have experienced some form of cyberstalking. This doesn’t just affect them but their family and friends too. Make sure that your phone, email, and social media accounts are as safe as they can be.
Keep all evidence of stalking. If someone’s stalking you, it’s important to keep everything they send you, including letters and texts. No matter how trivial it seems, it’s important to keep as evidence. You should also write down everything that happens to you with dates and times included so that you have a record should you need to take legal action against the stalker.
Don’t respond to them. Even if your stalker threatens you, one of the worst things you can do is talk to them. The same goes for bargaining. You can’t reason with a stalker. Take the example of rejecting someone who starts stalking you. Continuing to talk to them gives them hope—for the stalker, negative attention is better than none.
Never ignore it. You might think the best way to deal with being stalked is to ignore it, but this could put you further at risk and make you feel unsafe. That’s why instead of engaging with the stalker, you should be proactive. Stay alert, avoid contact with the stalker, enhance your home security, let people in your life know what’s happening, and bring the evidence you’ve been keeping to the police. The sooner you act, the sooner you can put an end to the situation.
Trust your gut. A stalker isn’t always that creepy-looking person who’s socially awkward. It can be anyone. Just think: if most stalkers are people you know, that means they’re people you like and trust. That’s why it’s important to trust your intuition. If something feels “off” about someone, listen to that warning! It could save your life.
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