Stalking is unwanted attention from someone, even someone you know. It can include following you, showing up at your home or business unannounced, sending messages or frequent harassing phone calls or even destruction of property.
Quoting the CDC, more than 7.5 million people are stalked every year, and more than 70% of them know their stalker. Often, after a break-up, one party cannot handle the rejection and resorts to stalking their ex. If you are on the receiving end, it can be scary, but there are things you can do to stay safe and find peace.
When Romantic Attention Becomes Frightening, Not Flattering
The same devoted attention you once enjoyed while in a relationship, after it’s over is unwanted and can turn frightening. Stalkers are not following you and monitoring your every move out of love; they do it because of obsession and a need for control. Many stalkers struggle with mental illness or unresolved childhood issues. When their efforts are thwarted or ignored, their behaviors can escalate to dangerous levels, and you need to know what to look for and how to protect yourself.
Criminal Stalking Law
Stalking laws will vary somewhat from state to state; however, because this is a public safety issue, the stalking sanctions are pretty steep. By definition, stalking involves repeat behavior which often increases in frequency and intensity. Stalking often results in domestic violence or other types of abuse.
Although stalking laws are relatively new, law enforcement takes the issue seriously as many instances lead to violence or even death. Some states require a few levels of addressing the problem such as warnings from police, then a restraining order and after that criminal charges and jail.
How to Stay Safe
1 - The best way to stay safe is to avoid the issue by being direct and clear when ending a relationship. Block your ex’s phone number and don’t go to places where you know they will be. End things cleanly. Sometimes during a relationship, you will get clues by seeing signs of obsessive or jealous behavior. Sending dozens of texts or getting angry or suspicious on a regular basis is not healthy and this could be a sign you are dating a stalker. Keep an eye out for strange behavior before it becomes a problem.
2 - If someone other than an ex is stalking you, consider a phone lookup to find out who they are and where they live. You can then supply this information to the police or a lawyer when you take action to get them to stop. Another way is hiring a private investigator to follow your stalker for you or find information online about that person.
3- If the stalker is someone you know, don’t play psychologist and try to understand or fix them. Their issues are much broader and more severe than you know. Your best way to stay safe is to avoid any and all contact and use the authorities to handle it for you.
4 - You can first call the police and get a restraining order. After that, you can hire a lawyer to represent you in court and bring criminal charges against them if they physically harm you or threaten you. Only one in three cases of stalking are ever reported to the police. Don’t minimize the situation or explain it away. Stalking is serious business.
5 - If your stalker contacts your family or friends and tells lies about you, do not confront them. Let law enforcement handle it. The stalker wants your attention; do not give it to them. Hand it over to the police and the courts and let them help keep you safe.
Ben Hartwig (author) from USA on March 04, 2019:
dashingscorpio from Chicago on February 26, 2019: