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Signs That You Are Being Stalked
Would you know the signs that you are being stalked? Or, would you try to brush it off as a series of coincidences or a harmless crush? Even though an astonishing 1 in 12 women will experience stalking in their life, it has only recently become a crime. California was the first state to introduce stalking laws in 1990. It became a federal crime when it was included in the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. Stalking is still very much open to interpretation, though, and it can be very difficult to prove. The difference between unwanted attention and a criminal act is not easy to define.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 defines stalking as:
“engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to—
(A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others;
(B) suffer substantial emotional distress.”
So, how can you tell if you are being stalked, and what should you do about it? Here are 10 signs that you are being stalked, and the steps that you should take to stop a stalker harassing you.
Stalking takes many forms. Any one of the following behaviors could be a sign that you are being stalked. It doesn’t need to be all these signs. People stalk other people for a variety of reasons. Their behavior can be triggered by a range of factors. These triggers include rejection, delusion and attention seeking. Stalking can also be a sign of a sexual predator. That’s one of the reasons that you should take the following signs that you are being stalked very seriously.
1. You Are Being Watched
There are some stalkers who like to keep their distance. They may follow you, or you may find out that they have asked other people questions about you. They may also try to gather information about you from other sources, such as public records and your social media profiles. Some stalkers even hire private detectives to follow their targets. If you often get the feeling you are being followed, or the same face keeps appearing wherever you go, that might be a sign that you are being stalked.
2. Repeated Unwanted Phone calls
If you have been receiving lots of phone calls from a person that you don’t usually socialize with, then that could be a warning sign. This doesn’t need to be from a total stranger. According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, 75% of women know their stalker. If you are receiving many unwanted phone calls from one person, you need to tell that person to stop. If they continue with the calls, you should start to log the calls and inform the police.
3. You Keep on “Bumping Into” the Same Person
If you see the same person at the same time at the gym every day, then that’s to be expected. If that same person then seems to be always “bumping into you” in other places, that might be cause for concern.
Some stalkers will deliberately be in the places that they know you will be. They will hang around your neighborhood, shop at the same store you shop at, and get coffee at the same coffee shop you go to. The first few times could be coincidence. If it keeps on happening, it could be more than that.
4. Coming to Your Rescue Too Many Times
If you seem to have gained a knight in shining armor, you might have gained a stalker. Stalkers will sometimes manufacture events so that they can come and save the day. These events can range from a flat tire, to more sinister things like your pet getting run over. If you seem to be having a run of bad luck, but there’s one person who is always on hand to help, it could be a sign that you are being stalked.
5. Showering You with Inappropriate Gifts
The first sign of stalking could be someone sending you gifts. It may begin with innocent gifts, like flowers or chocolates. It could escalate to more inappropriate gifts for the type of relationship that you have with that person. Gifts from a stalker are often sent to a person’s place of work. It can be difficult to refuse gifts at work, but if you think you are being stalked, that’s exactly what you should do.
6. You Feel that You Are Being Manipulated
A stalker may manipulate you into interacting with them. They will try anything to have contact with you. This might be by plying on your good nature. They may pretend to be ill, ask for your help, or even tell you they are contemplating suicide. In some cases, stalkers have taken out lawsuits against their victims to force an interaction. If you feel that you are being manipulated into situations by a person, it might be a sign that they are stalking you.
7. Threats and Violence
Some stalkers resort to threats and violence to entrap their targets. This can include vandalism, burglary, threats, and actual violence. These are crimes that should be reported to the police anyway. If you know or you suspect that a stalker is behind the crimes, you should tell the police who you think the culprit might be.
8. Someone Not Taking No for An Answer
If someone has been pestering you for date and won’t take no for an answer, that could be the early signs of a stalker. Rejection is very hard for some people to take. If they take rejection badly, things could escalate from there.
9. Online Harassment
Stalking doesn’t have to be physical to be frightening. You can be stalked online as well. This might be via email messages, or it might be via messages left on social media accounts. The police take online stalking as seriously as physical stalking. Both types of stalking often occur at the same time, or one can lead to the other. If you are being stalked online, you should report it to your internet service provider and to the social media site. Online stalking is a crime, so it should be reported to the police.
10. Excessive Contact
Stalking can be a series of apparently minor events. It may not even appear to be dangerous or sinister at first. If you feel that a person is contacting you too often, though, that alone can constitute stalking. You have a right to live your life without fear and without being made to feel uncomfortable. If someone is impeding on that right, you should take steps to stop it. Stalking in all its various forms is a crime. You don’t have to put up with it.
What to Do If You Are Being Stalked
If you are being stalked, you need to act. If you know the person well enough, you should tell them that their behavior is making you feel uncomfortable and ask them to stop. Should the stalking persists, you should report it to the police. Here’s a very useful video that explains the steps to take:
1. Stop All Contact with the Stalker
Tell the person stalking you to stop contacting you. You should be polite but firm about this. It should be clear that you do not want any more contact. After you have done that, it is important that you avoid all contact with the individual. The stalker might see any kind of contact as confirmation that their actions are acceptable. It might encourage further unwanted interactions.
2. Tell Your Friends and Family About Your Stalker
Don’t be shy about telling friends and family that you are being stalked. They will be able to provide with emotional support, and they need to know. If your friends and family know what is happening, they may be able to provide evidence in court if it is needed. It is also important that friends and family don’t pass on any information about you to your stalker.
3. Start Collecting Evidence
It will be important that you can provide evidence of your stalking to the police. It may be needed in court. Keep a journal of events. Save any emails or text messages from your stalker. If you are receiving unwanted gifts, keep a record of the deliveries and try to find out who ordered the goods. If you can, take photos or videos of your stalker. Don’t, though, put yourself in a dangerous situation by trying to collect evidence.
4. Take Steps to Ensure Your Safety
If you see signs that you are being stalked, you need to take some safety precautions. Change your daily routine to avoid your stalker. Change the lock on your doors. Install a burglar alarm, security lighting, and security cameras in your home. When you are out alone, carry a self-defense product, such as a pepper spray or a personal alarm.
Stalking is a serious crime. It can make a person’s life intolerable. If you do believe that someone is stalking you, you need to take the steps above. If the stalking continues or you feel you are in danger, inform the police. For more information on stalking, visit the stalking resource page on The National Center for Victims of Crime website.
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Have a safe and pleasant day.