How to Deal with a Stalker: Warning Signs and Resources
Stalking is a serious crime. One in six women are stalked during their lifetime and women are twice as likely to be stalked than men.
Stalking is repeated, unwanted contact with someone who continues to harass you and make you feel uncomfortable. Stalking can take place virtually online through social media, messages, email or by phone and in person.
Who is a Stalker?
A stalker may be someone you know, an intimate partner or ex, or a complete stranger. Anyone who makes you feel unsafe and overtly or subtly threatens you may be classified as a stalker and you must take action quickly.
Most stalkers are people you already know and their actions can be indicative of an abusive relationship. Stalking is dangerous and can be unpredictable, and no two cases are ever the same.
Signs of a Stalker
There are many signs to be aware of when evaluating a stalker situation. Look out for these signs:
- Someone is making threats of murder or suicide if you leave them or break off communication.
- You receive unwanted presents from someone and when you ask them to stop they continue.
- Someone who is following you around or spying on you.
- Destruction of your property, car, home or other things.
- You receive too many emails, texts or messages on social media from someone that you do not want contact with.
- Someone who is obsessively calling or texting you.
- Obscene or angry messages, pictures or texts sent to you.
- Tracking you with a GPS, camera or software to monitor your online activities.
- Stalkers may search for information online about you, your family or friends and even go so far as going through your track or hiring a private investigator.
- The stalker’s actions escalate over time as they do not get the attention they crave from you.
- When someone unexpectedly shows up where you are, at work, school, a social event or somewhere else.
- Someone threatens you, your family, your pets or friends with violence.
All of these are signs of stalking, but it is not a complete list. There may be other warning signs, and you need to take them all very seriously with or without any overt threats of violence.
How to Deal with a Stalker?
Being stalked can make you feel insecure, anxious, fearful and even depressed. Your eating and sleeping habits may suffer when you are a victim of stalking. To help yourself and help others, so they do not become victims of the same person, you must get help and take legal action. Stalking is a crime. Here is what to do?
- If you feel that you are in immediate danger, call 91
- Do not directly contact the stalker.
- Take the threat seriously; it can escalate quickly into a dangerous situation.
- Keep a journal of evidence and write down every incident, time, date and place. Print out any messages, emails and take screenshots of things they sent you online. Keep all gifts, pictures, and videos they send to you.
- Contact the police. There are forms you may need to fill out, and the stalker will be notified and even arrested if they have damaged your property or perpetrated any violence against you or someone you know. Bring all your evidence with you.
- Ask the police for a restraining order until you proceed through the courts.
- You may need to go to court to obtain a legal stalking order and keep them away from you.
- Tell your employer, co-workers, family, and friends so they can be on the lookout and aware of the danger to you and possibly themselves.
- Contact a helpline to access other resources for peace of mind and to get your life back in order.
- Keep your cell phone on you at all times for safety.
- It might be a good idea to start carrying mace in your purse as well.
- Consider changing your phone number and address if things got out of hand and you are still concerned about you and your family’s safety.
- Install motion sensors, cameras, and other home security devices to make your home a safer place.
- Look into counseling to help you with symptoms of being stalked.
Helpful Links & Resources
Stalking can be extremely frightening, and you may feel alone, you are not. There is help from many sources. Here are a few:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office on Women’s Health - https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/stalking
- Stalking Resource Center - http://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center/help-for-victims
- Are You Being Stalked Brochure - http://victimsofcrime.org/docs/default-source/src/english-aybs-2015.pdf?sfvrsn=2
- Victim Connect Resource Center - https://victimconnect.org/crime-resources/stalking/
- United States Department of Justice - Help for Victims - https://www.justice.gov/ovw/stalking