If you've been a subscriber to this blog, you know we discuss sexual trauma but did you know there's a connection between sexual trauma and stalking? January is National Stalker Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to bring awareness to what is stalking and people's rights regarding to stopping stalkers. Persons aged 18-24 years experience the highest rate of stalking and the highest risk years for rape is 12-34. Those two distinct experiences often intersect not only by age in risk but also in the manner that the trauma is inflicted.
Stalking is defined by the law as: "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, non-consensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear. These are the examples of stalking to give you a clearer perspective:
Repeatedly call and text you, including hang-ups
Follow you and show up wherever you are
Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails
Damage your home, car, or other property
Monitor our phone calls, computer use, or social network account
Hack into your social networking accounts (Facebook) or email (see how to protect yourself on Facebook here)
Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go
Drive by or hang out at your apartment/residence hall, outside your classroom or at your work
Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets
Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring private investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting your friends, classmates, family, neighbors, or co-workers
Other actions that control or frighten you
As with both experiences a large percentage of victims know who their perpetrator(s) are. 31% of stalked women are stalked by an intimate partner. 6 in 10 rape or sexual assault victims said their perpetrator was assaulted by an intimate partner (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend), relative, friend or other acquaintance. Victims of sexual assault and stalking more likely than not won't report their attackers. This is due to the lack of knowledge about law as well as fear of retaliation and minimizing the crime due to their relationship with the assaulter. The affect of stalking and sexual violence due lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, bipolar, depression, paranoia, and insomnia etc.
So what can one do if they're being stalked? Trust your gut and don't downplay the possible dangers of your stalker escalating their actions. Stalkers have been known to kill their victims so take every action seriously, even if the stalker threatens to harm his or herself for your attention. In cases like this DO NOT CONTACT THE STALKER OR THE STALKER'S ASSOCIATES. CONTACT THE POLICE.
If your stalker know you and your schedule, switch things up by creating a Safety Plan. In your safety plan change your routine, stay at close friend's homes, take different route to and from places you need to go, go out with friends in a group to decrease the chances of your stalker approaching you etc.
Plan ahead of time what would you do if your stalker did attempt to make physical contact i.e. pepper spray, call out for help (better you use the phrase fire to get attention), activate security plan, self defense classes, getting armed, getting an attack dog etc.
Always let your friends, family, professors, boss etc know where you're going and when you'll be back so if anything happens to you they would be aware and come looking for you or call the police. Although this could make you feel childish, it's better to be safe than sorry and don't feel bad about being stalked. If these people really care about you, they will support you regardless without judgement. They will take your safety seriously.
Evidence is KEY. Every time your stalker tries contacting you, big or small, internet or in person document it especially if you want to go to court and press charges or get a restraining order. If your stalker does any physical harm to you or our property take lots of pictures with times and dates. Let your support system know so they can vouch for you in court. Evidence
Every state has stalking laws so contacting the police is something I HIGHLY encourage you to do. Getting a court order/protective order to force the stalker to stay away from you is best. You can also get a “Stalking Letter” the police will send to the stalker that informs them to stay away from you or other actions will be taken to prevent his or her stalking. Seeking counseling is also a good way to decompress your feelings about being stalked and can lessen your chances of mental chagrin, plus your counselor can be a witness in your case if you chose to pursue one.
Please share this information to help yourself or anyone you know who id being stalked. Never take stalking lightly and always believe your friend if they state their being stalked!
*Special Acknowledgement* Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) https://www.unh.edu/sharpp/stalking National Institution of Justice: https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/stalking/pages/welcome.aspx
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