January may be National Stalking Month, but its never the wrong time of year to make yourself aware of the signs that you may be a victim of stalking. It is also good to familiarize yourself with your options for contending with a potential stalker. One mistake many women and men make is to ignore the behavior, hoping that will make the stalker stop due to the lack of attention. This seldom works and, in some cases, can lead to an escalation of behavior.
First, some startling statistics on stalking:
- 1 of every 6 women and 1 of 19 men have been stalked in their lifetime
- 3 of 4 victims know their stalker in some capacity
- The most common perpetrator is a former intimate partner
- People aged 18–24 have the highest incidence of being stalked
- Less than 1/3 of states classify a first offense of stalking as a felony
While most stalkers typically know the victim, sometimes it is a complete stranger doing the stalking. Below, you will find some signs to beware of that may indicate stalking behavior.
- Someone seems to be just around the corner while you are going to work, shopping, out with your friends, or around the neighborhood
- Receiving unwanted phone calls on your cell phone, home phone, or at work
- Signs that someone has been in your home, car, or workplace when you’re not there
- Receiving repeated letters, gifts, messages, social media posts, emails- even after you’ve asked the sender to stop
- Someone is attempting to gain information about you from family, friends, or co-workers
There are four different kinds of stalkers, each with their own signs and ways of stalking.
- The public figure stalker — they usually stalk celebrities or public figures and have had no prior relationship with the victim
- The stranger stalker — a person who somehow crosses paths with the victim, who then becomes the target
- Acquaintance stalker — this kind of stalker pursues a co-worker, classmate, or another person they may have briefly met. This kind of stalker has about a 50% chance of becoming violent.
- Intimate stalker — this kind of stalker has the highest chance of becoming violent and is with a person the victim was previously intimately involved
You should never confront a stalker about their behavior alone. You might want to consider a key fob with an alarm, installing a home security system, and limiting social media time. These can all help you deal with a stalker.
If you believe that you are being stalked, you do have several options to deal with the problem. First, you will want to document the behavior thoroughly. Make sure to note times and dates and locations. The next step is to report the issue to the police and make sure to explain why this behavior makes you feel threatened. This will help you get an injunction for stalking and will enable you to get a restraining order.