What is stalking?
The CDC reports, “Stalking is a public health problem that affects millions of people in the United States. Stalking involves a perpetrator’s use of a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics that are both unwanted and cause fear or safety concerns in a victim.” https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/stalking/fastfact.html
Please don’t dismiss this behavior. Please don’t minimize this behavior. Please take stalking seriously.
My personal story
I have my own story about stalking. Thankfully, I wasn’t killed but I did get a bitter taste of fear and intimidation. I guess that was the point.
I was a high school student and it was my first serious boyfriend. Serious meaning the relationship lasted more than several months. We had broken up and gotten back together several times. At one point, we broke up after I learned he had slept with one of my classmates. I went through a whole box of tissues and thought I would die from grief (young love right?)
To say I was surprised when he showed up on a tractor driving through my yard. That was kind of funny except it wasn’t because his behavior escalated. He followed me home from work one night with a high powered light on his truck. It blinded me and I had to fight to focus on the road. To say I was scared would be an understatement. I don’t remember how long this lasted. This is a common reaction after trauma.
Until I read about stalking behavior on the CDC website, I had forgotten the frequent calls and hangups.
A close call
I also don’t remember how much time went past before the next stalking event. He had waited outside the restaurant I was working at and when I went to take the trash to the dumpster, He drove fast toward me and swerved at the last minute. I ran inside and couldn’t stop shaking or crying. My co-workers were comforting.
The next day, I filed my first and only protection order. Thank God he followed the order. The scary thing is… he already had a record and spent time in a juvenile detention center. I didn’t know it when we first started dating but he did tell me later. He shared his case records with me which showed his own traumas. I had compassion for him, his story and for the other party involved. However, having a trauma story doesn’t give anyone the right to traumatize or hurt someone else.
Stats on stalking
- 1 out of every 3 women have been stalked at some point during their lifetime
- 24% of female victims were stalked as minors
- 58% of female victims reported being stalked before the age of 25
According to the CDC, stalking tactics include:
- Unwanted following and watching of the victim
- Unwanted approaching or showing up in places, such as the victim’s home, workplace, or school
- Unwanted use of global positioning system (GPS) technology to monitor or track the victim’s location
- Leaving strange or potentially threatening items for the victim to find
- Sneaking into the victim’s home or car and doing things to scare the victim or let the victim know the perpetrator had been there
- Use of technology (e.g., hidden camera, recorder, computer software) to spy on the victim from a distance
- Unwanted phone calls, including hang-ups and voice messages
- Unwanted texts, emails, social media, or photos messages
- Unwanted cards, letters, flowers, or presents
Impact of stalking
Stalking is highly correlated with threats of physical harm. Like other traumas, stalking impacts health, pain and often leads to psychology distress to include major depression, generalized anxiety, or post traumatic stress. In the worst case scenarios, stalking leads to death.
The office of Violence Against Women was awarded a grant that addresses the seriousness of stalking. SPARK has infographics, fact sheets, stalking logs, training, and awareness campaigns. They encourage advocacy surrounding not allowing the media to show stalking as playful, cute or funny. You can write to the publications, editors, etc to advocate for social change. To see other ways to be an advocate, go here.
Ask for Help
Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224
The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
We offer consultation appointments to see if coaching to recover from stalking or other traumatic events is a good fit for you.