Stalking. Stalking is a pattern of behavior that makes you feel afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. It is when someone repeatedly contacts you, follows you, sends you things, talks to you when you don’t want them to, or threatens you.
I’ve noticed, in my experience, that stalking is often joked about and taken lightly. Jokes and songs are written about and t.v shows and movies portray it as romantic. Friends will stalk their ex’s, joking that their action are justified because the person lied to them or they suspect them of cheating. And maybe checking on someone’s Facebook status or driving by their house, in and of itself, is not the beginning of a stalking issue, but when it is something ongoing, it can be become a very real issue. One that leads to personal and community issues, as well as death.
1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have reported being victims of stalking in their lifetime. Abusers often use stalking to intimidate and control their victims, and it is often an indicator of other forms of violence. 81% of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabiting partner were also physically assaulted by that partner. 31% were sexually assaulted.
76% of women who were murdered, and 85% who survived an attempted murder, by an intimate partner, were stalked first. Sadly, 54% had reported the stalking to police before they were killed. As is so often the case, there is not much data on male victims.
Many do not realize that stalking is not only a crime, but it is also domestic violence. Anytime a partner uses a tactic to get power and control, abuse is taking place. Although many do not see the harm in stalking, being a victim of it can be a very scary thing. Even if the victim is not killed, victims lives are often turned upside down when being followed or watched.
1 in 7 are forced to move and 1 in 8 victims have reported a loss of work. Victims report higher rates of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Stalking, like all forms of domestic violence, affects not only the victims themselves, but also has an impact on the community.
If you are considering, or have been, stalking your ex or their new partner on social media, getting ready to send emails declaring your undying love for the hundredth time, parking outside of your partner’s house, or giving someone unwanted attention; stop now.
If you are the victim of stalking, please seek out help immediately to ensure your safety. Even if it seems minor, if it has been ongoing then it is not ok. Contact the The Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or your local police department to get help and guidance.
Remember, stalking is domestic violence and unwanted attention is never ok. Listen to your gut and take care of yourself. You are worth it.