January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Though stalking is illegal in all 50 states, roughly 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men will be victims of stalking at some point during their lives. Stalking is a serious problem that can pose a real risk for the victim, all too often leading to violence or sexual assault. Understanding stalker behaviors and taking action is vital to protect yourself.
Who Do Stalkers Target?
While films often depict stalkers as total strangers, the reality is that most stalkers target people they already know. Family members or mere acquaintances can become stalkers. However, stalkers are most frequently people who had previous romantic involvement with the victim — whether they just went on a few dates, or were once married.
Common Stalking Actions
Stalking is a series of behaviors that makes the victim afraid or feel like they are in danger. This could include making unwanted calls or emails, sending unwanted gifts, or even following the victim. Stalkers may track their victims using GPS or wait for them outside of their home or office.
The risk for violence progresses as stalking intensifies. Stalkers may damage the victim’s property, harass family or coworkers, threaten to share intimate photographs of the victim online, or threaten acts of violence. All of this is designed to control and frighten the victim.
If you are experiencing any of these situations, know that it is not your fault. However, you cannot brush off the situation. Document stalking incidents and tell trusted individuals about what is happening. You may need to get a court order or develop a safety plan with the help of a specialist. OneEighty can be contact at 330.264.8498. Finally, trust your instincts. If you feel threatened, try to get away from the situation. Call 911 if you are in danger. Your own safety should always be your top priority.