Is Someone Stalking You?
Stalking. We often associate it with celebrities, but the truth is about 3.4 million people report being stalked in the US every year. Most of them know their stalker.
If you’ve been stalked, you know it’s infuriating – and that it can also be terrifying. Your spouse or former partner paces back and forth in front of your office building, or repeatedly appears when you turn a corner. Maybe he or she tracks your activities through the kids or friends – and then lets you know he knows what you did last weekend. Perhaps he emails you constantly, or makes unwanted posts to your Facebook page. Chances are he or she repeatedly pleads with you “just to talk,” but what he really wants is to resume the relationship.
Someone is stalking you if he or she…
- Repeatedly follows or spies on you.
- Constantly calls you, at home or at work.
- Repeatedly sends you unwanted emails, letters, or gifts.
- Vandalizes or damages your property – or repeatedly leaves signs to let you know he or she has been around.
- Threatens you or someone you care about.
- Asks family members or friends for information about you.
- Repeatedly – and inexplicably – shows up wherever you are.
Sometimes stalking is obvious and the pattern of repeated and unwanted attention is a clear problem. Sometimes stalking can seem surreal and you’ll wonder if there’s really a problem at all. But if you’re wondering, there probably is.
Stalking is usually a sign that your former partner is unwilling to let go of the relationship – or that your current partner wants even more control within your relationship. It’s also an indication that violence may erupt or escalate. You should always take stalking seriously.
If you think – or know – you’re being stalked, there are some steps you can take. Start by telling someone you trust about what’s going on or call our hotline – 1.800.863.9909 – and talk through your options. If you’re in immediate danger, call 911.
Stalking is repeated harassing or threatening behavior, or any unwanted contact that gives the victim reason to be afraid. It’s also a crime. Here are some interesting statistics…
- About 77 percent of female and 64 percent of male victims know their stalker.
- Seventy-six percent of the women killed by a romantic partner were stalked by that person before the murder.
- The average time a stalker keeps stalking is 1.8 years.
- If stalking involves romantic partners, that time increases to 2.2 years.
- Thirty-one percent of women stalked by a current or former partner are also physically abused by that partner.
Stalking involves intentional and repeated behaviors that cause someone reasonable fear about his or her safety.
And, like all forms of abuse, it involves one person’s consistent attempts — often referred to as a course of conduct
— to maintain contact with or gain power and control
over another person.