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What to Do If You Are Being Stalked
Stalking can take many forms. It could be that someone you know won’t leave you alone. It might be that a total stranger has started to phone you, follow you around, and send you unwanted gifts.
Whatever the scenario, if you are being stalked, you need to take steps to protect yourself. You need to bring the stalking to an end so that you can get on with living your life.
Stalking can have a devastating effect. It can make a person afraid to answer the phone or go out. What makes it worse, is that stalking victims are sometimes not believed. People might say the victim is paranoid or being over-sensitive.
If someone’s behavior is distressing you, you have the right to make them stop. That is clear in the Violence Against Women Act.
What do you do if you are being stalked? Do you confront the offender? Do you report it to the police? When does annoying behavior become criminal behavior?
Here’s what to do of you are being stalked.
What Is Stalking?
Stalking is behavior that distresses you. Behavior that makes you feel unsafe or makes you feel harassed. You are being stalked if someone keeps on talking to you when you don’t want them to. It is also stalking if a person pesters you by email or makes threats against you.
Stalking behaviors vary. Stalking can occur online as well as well as in the physical world. Here’s a list of repeated behaviors associated with stalking:
- Sending unwanted gifts
- Tracking your every move
- Sending unwanted emails and texts
- Following you
- Taking photographs of you
- Showing up regularly at the places you go
- Repeatedly telephoning you
- Contacting you via social media
- Stealing your belongings
- Setting up a website about you
- Sending letters and pictures to you
- Damaging your property
For more information, read our post: 10 Signs That You Are Being Stalked.
What to Do If You Are Being Stalked.
1. Understand That It Is Not Your Fault
If someone’s behavior is making you fearful or causing you emotional stress, it is never your fault.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ex that won’t let go, someone you know who has a crush on you, or a total stranger.
You have the right to live your life free of harassment and intimidation. It is the stalker who is in the wrong, not you.
2. You Decide What is Stalking
Only you can decide if someone’s behavior towards you is unacceptable. You may have people tell you that you are overreacting. Don’t listen to them.
If someone’s behavior is upsetting you, you have every right to expect the person to stop what they are doing.
3. Confront Your Stalker (Only If Safe to Do So)
If you feel that it is safe to do so, you should tell the stalker that their attention not wanted.
Be polite but be firm. Tell them that you do not want any further contact with them. Tell them to stop harassing you.
If it is someone you know and can talk to. Explain to the person that what they are doing is upsetting you.
Once you have done this, you should avoid all contact with the individual.
It is important that you break off all contact with a stalker. If you allow contact to continue, the stalker may read this as a sign that you want their attention.
4. Tell Family and Friends
Tell your family and friends that you are being stalked. If people know what is happening, they will be able to support you.
It is also important that people close to you know what is happening. Then, they won’t give any further information about you to the stalker.
If friends and family know the person, they may be able to convince the stalker to back off without any further action being needed.
5. Report it to the Police if You Think You Are In danger
If you have even the slightest feeling that you might be in danger, you should report it to the police. Don’t wait for something to happen, report it straight away.
You may have to gather evidence before the police can act. But if you have reported your concerns, it will be on file. Knowing that the police are aware of the situation may deter the stalker.
6. Collect Evidence
Keep a record of the activities of the stalker. Log every call they make and keep any emails or letters they send you. You should also keep a record of every time you report the stalking to the police.
You need to keep a record so that the police can act. This is not because the police won’t believe you. It’s because they will need evidence if they are going to prosecute a stalker.
7. Change Your Daily Routine
You shouldn’t have to change the way you live because of somebody else’s actions. But sometimes it is the safest thing to do.
If you feel that your stalker poses a threat to you, change your daily routine. Take a different route to work. Go to a different coffee shop in the morning. Do what you can do to avoid encountering the stalker.
8. Change Your Locks and Install an Alarm
If the stalker knows where you live, which they often do, change the locks on your home and install an alarm system.
A stalker’s behavior can escalate over time. So, it is important that you take steps to secure your home and protect yourself.
9. Be Extra Vigilant When You Go Out
If you feel that you are in danger, avoid places where there aren’t many other people around. You may also want to tell a friend what your plans are and check in with them to let them know you are OK.
10. Take It Seriously
Take stalking seriously. Especially if the stalker threatens to harm you, other people, or themselves. Remember, stalking can escalate. It might appear at first to be a harmless infatuation. But it can escalate from there into something more serious.
For help with stalking, find a local advocacy organization. Local advocate services are usually available that can help you. You may find these at a district attorney’s office or the local police department. Sexual assault agencies and domestic violence agencies may also provide help.
More information about stalking is available at The National Center for Victims of Crime.
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