Stalking – we’ve all seen it in the movies. A mysterious man hiding in a dark alley, watching his victim from the shadows… But scarier than a scene from the latest thriller is stalking in real life.
Over 3 million Americans age 18 or older have been victims of stalking.
Keep your citizens informed about this very real, very illegal form of harassment, so they know how to handle an actual stalking situation off the big screen.
What Is Stalking?
Stalking is repeated contact and attention from someone that makes you feel afraid, threatened or harassed. Stalkers can be strangers, but most of the time, a stalker is someone you know.
Here are some stalking facts from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS):
How Do I Know If I’m Being Stalked?
A stalker may:
- Follow you around or spy on you.
- Send you unwanted emails or letters.
- Call you often.
- Show up uninvited at your house, school or work.
- Leave you unwanted gifts.
- Damage your home, car or other property.
- Threaten you, your family or pets with violence.
- Do other things to create fear, cause you anxiety and disrupt your life.
According to the BJS, about half of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week.
What Can I Do If I’m Being Stalked?
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
If you’re a victim of stalking, you should:
- File a complaint with the police.
- Tell important people in your life what is happening.
- Make a safety plan and consider changing your routine and commuting with friends or family.
- Call a helpline or search online for resources, laws and information on ways to get help.
- Track and save all evidence of your stalker’s contact with you:
- Include emails, texts, voice messages, letters, cards, photos, gifts, videos, social media requests or posts.
- Photograph anything that has been damaged.
- Include dates, times, places, witnesses, what was said and/or done.
- If it continues, get a restraining order.
No matter what, always listen to yourself and trust your instincts. Take all threats seriously – stalkers are dangerous and unpredictable.
For more information and resources, visit the Stalking Resource Center.
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For more information on various preparedness and safety topics, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including Crime Prevention Checklist and Cybersecurity: Stay Safe Online.