Am I Being Stalked?
While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, stalking generally refers to a course of conduct that involves a broad range of behavior directed at the victim. The conduct can be varied and involve actions that harass, frighten, threaten and/or force the stalker into the life and consciousness of the victim.
Stalking behavior may be difficult to identify, since some can seem kind, friendly or romantic (e.g. sending cards, candy or flowers). However, if the object of the abuser’s attention has indicated s/he wants no contact, these behaviors may constitute stalking.
It is important to examine the pattern of behavior in the apparent stalking incidents – type of action, frequency, consistency, if the behavior stops when the stalker is told to cease contact, etc.
Indicators of Stalking Behavior
The following actions are some behaviors stalkers use. This is not an exhaustive list, and it is important to consider the intensity of each behaviors in deciding if stalking is the intent.
- Persistent phone calls despite being told not to make contact in any form
- Waiting for the victim at workplace, in the neighborhood/residence hall, after class, and where the stalker knows the victim goes
- Threats to family, friends, property or pets of the victim. (Threats or actual abuse toward pets is a particularly strong indicator of potential to escalate to more or lethal violence)
- Manipulative behavior (e.g. threatening to commit suicide in order to get a response).
- Defamation: The stalker often lies to others about the victim (e.g. reporting infidelity to the victim's partner)
- Sending the victim written messages, such as letters, email, graffiti, text messages, IMs, etc.
- Objectification: The stalker demeans the victim, reducing him/her to an object, allowing the stalker to feel angry with the victim without experiencing empathy
- Sending unwanted gifts
What to do if someone is stalking you.
- Don’t answer the phone or door unless you know who it is.
- End all communication with the person who is stalking you. Don’t get into arguments with them or pay attention to them – that’s what they want!
- Let family, friends, and your employer know you are being stalked. Show them a picture of the stalker.
- Talk to a teacher, friend, administrator or counselor who can help you decide how to deal with the situation.
- Write down the times, places, and detailed summaries of each incident. Keep all emails or texts.
- Contact the police if stalking persists despite your efforts to end it.
- Consider obtaining a restraining order, but evaluate the pros and cons of doing so. Sometimes it can escalate the violence.
- Change your routine so the stalker is less able to predict your whereabouts.
- Keep any written messages (including electronic) and recorded voice communications
What to do about cyber stalking
- Do not meet anyone you've met on the internet in person.
- Don’t share personal information (name, phone numbers, addresses, etc.) in online public places.
- Consider creating separate email accounts for social networking sites or other sites that require personal logins. (Good way to reduce your spam too!)
- Use filters and blockers to block unwanted emails.
- Send a clear message to a cyber stalker that you do not want further communication and will contact authorities if messaging continues.
- Save all communications from a cyber stalker.
If you are a victim of stalking:
Know it is not your fault and that there are numerous resources, on and off campus. [Link to resources page].