Know It. Name It. Stop It. Stalking Awareness Month Part II
Through the years, I've had a few friends who stepped crossed the line of being friendly and became overbearing; who showed up at my door uninvited at inconvenient times; who was angry with me for not answering my phone when she called, repeatedly; who sometimes drove to my home to tell me she had been calling and I was not answering; who was jealous of the time I spent with DH (who was then Dear Boyfriend); who gave me expensive gifts; and the list goes on. These things made me nervous at times; angry at times; and left me feeling stuck in the "friendship."
I severed ties with these folks years ago. And while I never feared for my safety, to this day I worry that one of them will show up at my doorstep some day. In fact, just a few years ago, I got a Christmas card from one. The card was sent to an address she should not have had. Every few years, I get emails from these people sent to email addresses they shouldn't have. One or both of these people could be reading this very post for all I know. These experiences serve as reminders that anyone can find just about any kind of information he or she is looking for on the Internet.
I wrote in yesterday's post that I have never been stalked and while I wouldn't have called these "friends" stalkers then, when looking at the definition of stalker they come very close to fitting the bill.
Only 10% of victims are being stalked by strangers. The majority of stalking is done by someone the victim knows. And generally, not only do the victims know their stalkers, but they have had close relationships with these people. According to National Center of Victims of Crime (NCVC), people with disabilities have a higher chance of being stalked. "Stalkers may target these victims because of their disabilities or exploit their disabilities in committing crimes."
StalkingAwarenessMonth.org reports that only 37% of male victims and 41% of female victims report this crime to police. The website says there are three reasons for this: 1) the person minimizes the seriousness of his or her experience; 2) the person does not understand the behavior of the stalker is criminal; and 3) the person being stalked doesn't think the police will take the stalking incidents seriously.
What Constitutes Stalking
In many jurisdictions , the crime of stalking begins with the second harassing, intimidating, threatening or terrorizing encounter. If you, a friend or family member is experiencing any of the following, you, your friend or family member may have a stalker:
Follow you and show up wherever you are.
Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
Damage your home, car, or other property.
Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
These behaviors may make the person being stalked feel afraid, threatened, nervous, insecure, confused, unable to sleep, angry, unsafe, alone or a host of other emotions.
The best website for stalking information and resources is the National Center of Victims of Crime. The NCVC partnered with the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women to create the Stalking Resource Center (SRC). The NCVC provides a good list of Things a Person Being Stalked Can Do like keeping a written record of each incident, calling a crisis hotline, developing a safety plan, trusting your own instincts and calling 911 when you feel you are in danger, etc. The items on the list are simple and involve common sense, but if your safety and sanity are being compromised, you may need this type of list. The website also has a great number of Resources listed.
Stalking rarely stops on its own. In fact, stalking often escalates over time. NCVC reports that 11% of victims have been stalked for over 5 years. Stalking is a serious crime and should be regarded as such.
Click Stalking Awarenes Quiz to test your Stalking knowledge. Hint: If you have read this post and yesterday's post you should get all of the answers correct. On Wednesday, I will post on cyberstalking laws. Over and out…
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