Stalking is a crime – one that appears to be on the rise. According to a study conducted by the Department of Justice, one out every 12 women will be a victim of stalking in her lifetime.
It is dangerous to brush aside stalkers as harmless. Studies show that stalking is also closely linked to incidences of rape, abductions and violence. Knowing if you are being stalked and being able to identify your stalker can go a long way to protect you.
The following are some of the warning signs that you are being stalked that you need to be aware of:
You Keep Spotting the Same Face
Stalkers aren’t exactly known for their stealth. If you keep bumping into the same face whenever you step out of work, head to the mall or shop for groceries, then you may be a victim of stalking.
Obviously, not every familiar face is a stalker. For instance, if you go the gym regularly, you’re likely to find the same set of faces there. But if you repeatedly spot the same person at the gym, wherever you go shopping or parked across the street from your house, you may have a stalker on your hands.
You Keep Getting Gifts
There is a different between being romantic and being just plain creepy. It is okay for you to get gifts from a loved one. But if you keep getting gifts from a stranger who persistently refuses to reveal his or her identity, you may be faced with a stalking situation.
Stalkers sometimes send gift to places like your office, where they know it’ll create an impact. They may follow this with anonymous phone calls or emails, asking if you received and liked the gift. Again, it is important that you know when to draw the line. Most stalkers will continue to send gifts if you encourage them. The gifts may become increasingly expensive or increasingly weird, including nude pictures, underwear or snippets of their hair.
You Keep Receiving Phone Calls
Not phone calls from family members and friends checking in on you – those are nice. Instead, keep an eye out from repeated phone calls from people you only know casually. If you’re constantly getting hang-ups, people who keep leaving silent messages on your machine or calls from restricted numbers, you may have a stalker.
If you know who your caller is, firmly ask them to stop calling you. If they don’t stop, inform the police.
You Keep Running into Situations Where You Need to Be Rescued
Maybe your car breaks down in the middle of the highway or you leave the office only to find out that your car has a flat. Stalkers may sometimes sabotage your routine so that they can pop up and rescue you. It gives them the opportunity to interact with you and creates a situation where you will need to be grateful towards them.
If you find yourself in repeated situations where someone you know casually is conveniently on hand to rescue, be on your guard.
You’re Being Stalked on the Web
In recent years, the efficiency of social media networks – combined with the unerring accuracy offered by GPS – has made it easier for stalkers to track people remotely. Stalkers can steal personal information from you through the social content you post. They can also steal details from your phone using tracking software. And if your phone is enabled with GPS, they can pinpoint your exact location at any time of the day.
Internet stalking takes several different forms. Your stalker may send you multiple emails and social messages. You may also receive invitations to visit numerous websites, blogs or chartrooms. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security because it is all occurring on the web. A cyber stalker is just as dangerous as any other kind of stalker.
You Experience Violent Actions
In some instances, stalking can degenerate into acts of violence designed to frighten you. You may find your car vandalized or your home burgled. If you experience any of this, inform the police immediately. The police can make an arrest if you know the person responsible.
What to Do
If you suspect that you are being stalked, report your fears to the police. Police take cases of stalking very seriously, especially when it involves threats of violence. If you know who your stalker is, that is even better.
However, even if you don’t know who your stalker is, the police will give you advice on what to do and the precautions that you can take. Beyond that, there are additional steps that you can adopt to protect yourself:
Working With a Private Investigator
A private investigator can protect you from stalkers in a number of different ways. He can track down the identity of your stalker and help you gather enough evidence for a successful court case. Private investigators also have access to resources that they can use in identifying anonymous callers or internet stalkers.
Working with a private investigator, you will be able to build a credible record of all the interactions you have had with a stalker. When you eventually take the case to court, you will be much more likely to succeed. In addition to this, private investigators may be able to offer you additional protection services, which you can use in tandem with the support provided by police.
The following are some of the other things that you can do to improve your safety:
- Change your daily routine. If you go jogging in the morning, choose a different route each time. Try to be less predictable.
- Never try to talk to your stalker or confront him alone. Stalkers aren’t rational, so rational reasoning won’t work. In most cases, doing so only rewards their efforts and encourages them to increase their activity.
- Avoid walking alone, especially during late hours. If you’re running late at work, ask a friend to escort you home.
- Keep your doors and windows closed at all times. Never open the door until you confirm who is behind it.
- Install a security system in your home to prevent your stalker from trespassing.
According to the National Center for Victims Crime, over three million cases of stalking are reported each year. If you suspect that someone might be stalking you, don’t wait for the situation to degenerate. Do something about it immediately using the tips described above.