Yesterday I posted about how stalking is often perceived as a threat that only high profile celebrities and the super rich have to deal with. Actually, though, any one of us can become the victim of a stalker. And victimhood takes its toll. If you are an average Joe or Jane, chances are you cannot afford a high end security firm to protect you from your stalker. Instead, you will be forced by the stalker to spend your life in a state of constant hypervigilance. Often stalking victims are forced to move or change jobs and routines to try and slip the stalker. Stalking can take a severe emotional (and economic) toll on the victim and, in layman’s terms, make their lives a living hell.
According to statistics, at least 1 and 20 women will be stalked in their lifetimes, usually by someone they were once married to or dated. This often stems either from the stalker’s inability to handle rejection or a feeling of “If I can’t have her, nobody will.”
Serial murderers and child sexual predators have also been known to stalk their victims, and often do so as a precursor to crimes such as kidnapping, rape and even murder. These offenders are often very hard to apprehend because, unlike acquaintance stalkers, they may be entirely unknown to their victims.
Stalking is an extremely dangerous behavioral trait, one that indicates that a person has a capacity for violence or, at the very least, a distorted worldview. Read on for what you need to know about how to handle stalkers and potential stalkers:
1.) Be Clear – People, especially women, are often socialized to “be nice” and do anything to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Unfortunately, for a stalker, this can result in mixed signals. Stalkers may seize on any positive indicators while ignoring the negatives. This way, in their minds, the stalking is warranted. If you are no longer interested in the attentions of a potential stalker, be clear and firm when saying so.
2.) Cut Off Contact – For a stalker, any attention is good attention. In their twisted worldview, you yelling insults at them or even having a burly relative threaten them with bodily harm only tells them that you still care. The best way to make a stalker’s interest wane is to cut off all contact and ignore them completely. In the best case scenario, the stalker will lose interest.
3.) Protect Your Information – Do not publish your phone number, address or internet information. Use a post office box and your work phone number or a relatives phone number. If the stalker knows your online presence, change your email address and do not post any personal information online directories or social media websites.
4.) Keep a Diary – Record all incidents of stalking, no matter how small or trivial. If you receive hang up phone calls, note them down. If you “just happen” to meet your stalker out in public, be sure to record the incident in your diary. The diary will become a valuable record should you need to pursue legal action against your stalker.
5.) Protect Your Home – Stalkers like to watch and perform surveillance. Don’t give them that opportunity. Trim bushes outside your exterior windows and keep blinds and doors closed at all times. Use motion detecting lights to alert you to a stalkers presence. Install a loud alarm. Be sure to lock all doors and windows, and install audible door and window alarms so that you can hear whenever someone has entered your home. Stalkers are clever – they may try to cut your telephone line or turn off your electricity outside your home. Lock your fuse or circuit breaker boxes and keep a charged cell phone handy.
6.) Protect Your Car – Stalkers will try to learn your routine, so vary it. Take different routes too and from work and, if possible, leave at different times of day. If you must park in a public lot that requires you to surrender your keys, only turn over your ignition key and never your house key. Make sure your gas cap locks to prevent the stalker from siphoning your fuel and leaving you stranded. Always park in public, brightly lit places and never enter your car if there is a van parked next to it. If you feel you are being followed, do not drive home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station and honk the horn loudly for assistance.
Stalking is a serious crime and it can happen to anyone, rich or poor, celebrity or common person. In addition to following these precautions, contact law enforcement if you think you are being stalked.