Dealing with a Stalker

It’s a little after midnight and you’re headed for bed. You’re drowsy, feeling peaceful, and you decide to check your email one last time. Or maybe you reach for the living room drapes to draw them closed before you call it a night. And there he – or she – is again. Monitoring your activities. Standing on your street and watching you or sending you messages. Trying to claim your attention and be a part of your life. That person is stalking you.

Stalking is the supreme invasion of your privacy. Someone moves into your personal space, even by inference. You never know when he’ll call, when he’ll follow you, or when he’ll stand on the curb on the other side of your street, studying your door. He’s always there, because he might be there. You live in fear of what he might do if he decides that emails, phone calls and watching you aren’t enough to satisfy him anymore.

Statistics on Stalking

According to the National Institute of Justice, a whopping majority of known stalkers are men — 87 percent. Odds are, you know him or have met him before, at least once. He’s your former partner, or he’s a perfect stranger with whom who you merely crossed paths. Maybe you had the great misfortune of smiling at him absently as you held the door for him at your local convenience store. You barely noticed him, but he noticed you, and your smile meant something to him. Your smile put you on his radar, even if you were thinking of something else at the time.

More likely, though, he was once an intimate part of your life. Among women who have reported stalking complaints, 77 percent say they were once involved with the man who followed or tormented them.

What You Can do About a Stalker

Whether you want your relationship to be over so you can move on, or if you unwittingly sparked the interest of someone as you grabbed your morning coffee, your stalker’s effect on you is the same. He’s out there in the shadows, waiting and watching, and that’s terrifying. It takes control of your life, because you know you’re never really safe.

The worst possible thing you can do is ignore that. Your stalker is probably not going to go away of his own volition. You need to fight back. You have the right to reclaim your life.

You might be afraid that the police won’t take you seriously if you go to them, but they almost certainly will. Stalking is a crime in every state. The United States Department of Justice even made cyberstalking a crime in 1999. Law enforcement considers computer contact and electronic stalking as much of a legitimate threat as physical stalking.

Realistically, your local police department is not going to be able to put an officer on your door 24/7. This doesn’t mean they don’t believe you. It means they don’t have the manpower. It’s up to you to make sure you’re rarely alone while law enforcement takes steps to resolve your situation. If your home will accommodate it, adopt a dog from the pound. You don’t want a puppy — it will take too long for it to grow into something big and strong enough to protect you. A larger, adult dog might also bond with you more quickly. You’ve saved it from a bad situation, and on some level, it knows that. You’re feeding it and keeping it safe and warm. After a few weeks, it will probably lay down its life if someone tries to hurt you

What if you hate dogs, or if you simply don’t have time to care for one? All is not lost. If you can afford one, install an alarm system into your home. Bring in a roommate. Tell your friends and family what’s going on and develop a buddy system. The important thing is that you are rarely alone until your stalker is apprehended.

While you’re protecting yourself, gift-wrap your case for the police. Call your telephone company. If your stalker regularly contacts you by phone, you can arrange to report each call. When you receive a call, you can immediately punch a code into your phone so the company can log in the time. In many cases, the company can even identify where the call originated.

If your stalker is contacting you by email, save each and every one to a flash drive or disk. Give it to the police weekly.

If your stalker is following you physically, call law enforcement whenever you spot him. Invest in a camera and photograph him. You can create a record of what he doing, even if your stalker is gone by the time police officers arrive.

If you can locate a support group of others who are or have gone through the same thing you’re dealing with, they’ll have suggestions as well, actions they took to fix their own situations.

You are not powerless. You are not your stalker’s victim. The police won’t think you’re crazy. Reach out and get help on your side.

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