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What Should You Do If You’re Stalked?
10th Jan

2020

What to do if you're being stalked - Coburn Place, Indianapolis, IN

What Should You Do If You’re Stalked?

 

Stalking is unbelievably prevalent and may appear innocuous, so it can be hard to see signs of danger in our daily lives. One out of 12 women and one out of 45 men will be stalked in his or her lifetime. Stalking behavior often results in depression, anxiety, social dysfunctions, insomnia, and has the potential to be deadly, but why is it so hard to recognize? 

January is National Stalking Awareness month. If you fear you are being stalked, read on to learn what you can do.

Brianna, a survivor and Coburn Place program participant, shared with us the trauma and violence she experienced, which included stalking. “Looking back, this was not fate. Nor was it romantic in any way. When I think back on those first days together, my stomach turns. Because, like many young girls, I had no idea what a red flag even meant, and this man was showing every single one of them.” 

Brianna’s story is hard to hear, but her courage and determination are inspirational and her frightening experience resonates with many people. “At first, a high level of intense interest can seem exciting and flattering, but it doesn’t take long before danger becomes apparent,” says Shawnta Beverly, VP of Mission Impact. “At Coburn Place, we work with clients individually to determine their needs, which often includes determining safety plans and obtaining a restraining order in order to prevent future stalking situations.”

We’ve pulled together some valuable resources to enunciate just how dangerous stalking behavior is, how to identify stalking behavior, and how to get help for yourself or a loved one.

 

What is Stalking?

 

The very definition of ‘stalk,’ “to pursue someone or something with stealth,” brings fear to mind. At its very core, the act of stalking another person carries the innate threat of taking something essential and personal. 

 

What Should You Do If You’re Stalked? - Coburn Place, Indianapolis

 

The legal definition of stalking is “a knowing or an intentional course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another person that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened and that causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened.” Using targeted harassment “includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing impermissible contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, and that causes the victim to suffer emotional distress.” 

 

Signs of Stalking

When a person begins to stalk someone predatorily, it can, many times, appear benign. Stalking can be easy to minimize or brush off as ‘creepy’ or ‘weird’ behavior. Imagine how you would feel if someone: 

  • Follows you or shows up wherever you are, on multiple occasions
  • Sends unwanted gifts, letters, cards, emails, and social media messages
  • Damages your home, car, or other property
  • Uses technology to track and monitor you
  • Drives by or hangs out at your home, class, or work
  • Threatens to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets
  • Stalks by proxy (through having someone else ‘check on’ you) 
  • Looks for your personal information through public records or online searches
  • Posts information, misinformation, or spreads rumors about you
  • Exhibits other actions that control, track, or frighten you

The Stalking Resource Center estimates that three out of four stalked individuals know their stalker personally, and are more likely to downplay threatening behavior. And while there are countless ways for a stalker to victimize their target, it can include threats, physical attacks, sexual assaults, and death. A full two-thirds of stalkers will victimize their target every week, making it hard for a victim of stalking to maintain a sense of safety.

 

How to Get Help

According to the Community Resource Center, “while victims cannot control the stalking behavior, they should feel empowered to take steps to keep themselves, their families, and their loved ones safe.” 

There are three essential safety measures you should follow if you believe you are a stalked individual:

  1. Guard your whereabouts and information. Because many people who stalk do so through technology, stay mindful of your personal information online. Don’t give your passwords to anyone. And be aware of anyone who has access to your location through online applications. Visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence Tech Safety for more information. 
  2. Set clear boundaries. If you feel that someone is advancing into your personal space or doing things to make you uncomfortable in your daily life, be clear, direct, and firm when you ask them to maintain their distance for your safety. By stating the words “I do not want you calling me, showing up, or contacting me,” you shut down potential imagined invitations and opportunity for the stalker to make you feel uncomfortable.
  3. Take detailed notes. The best evidence of stalking behavior is proof that someone is making unwanted advances toward you and making you feel unsafe. To provide this proof, create a log of detailed notes of when, where, and how the behavior happened. Save emails, texts, unwanted phone calls, and voicemails within an incident log. Take pictures of any damage stemming from your stalker. Include notes about how this behavior made you feel. Share your notes with law enforcement.

 

How to Help A Stalked Loved One

The very best support you can provide a stalked loved one is to believe them. Many times victims feel alone and unable to reach out for help, so when they do, give them the support and belief in the situation. 

And if you suspect that a loved one is in a stalking situation, there are other ways to offer help and support. You can read and learn about stalking at any of the resources linked within this blog. Of course, empower yourself to speak up when you hear derogatory jokes or statements that place blame on the victim or glorify stalking behavior. 

If you want to take an active role in helping spread awareness of stalking and other unhealthy relationships, please get involved with Coburn Place. There are so many ways to participate in strengthening our haven.

 

You Can Count on Us

Coburn Place does so much more than provide safe housing. We offer a safe haven, a place where you don’t have to look over your shoulder, a place where you can feel secure from unsafe relationships and people.

 

What Should You Do If You’re Stalked? - Coburn Place, Indianapolis

 

If you or a loved one is experiencing stalking, call Coburn Place and speak directly to a staff member for support. We offer appropriate resources, and our Domestic Violence Support Groups are available for those on the waitlist and in the community. And if you feel that you or a loved one is in immediate danger, please call 911.

For additional assistance, you can contact the following hotlines:

Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 En Español

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

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