January is National Stalking Awareness Month

By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly

While the actual definitions of stalking, legal or otherwise, vary the Stalking Resource Center defines it as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Some examples they give of what constitutes stalking follows:

 

  • Follow you and show up wherever you are.
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
  • Damage your home, car, or other property.
  • Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
  • Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
  • Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
  • Other actions that control track, or frighten you.

 

Over 7.5 million people are the victim of stalking in the United States. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey of 2010 estimate that one of every six women and one of every nineteen men will be the victims of stalking. Most (85%) are stalked by someone they know, usually a current or former intimate partner. When the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey broke down numbers by sexual orientation, it found 31% of bisexual women reported being stalked. An estimate of the percent of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual men was not given because of a relative standard error of over 30% or an insufficient sample size. But to assume that stalking doesn’t exist in our communities because they don’t show up on a report would be foolish.

 

The impacts of stalking include anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, depression, missed work, destroyed property, and in extreme cases, bodily harm.

 

If you are being stalked, it’s advised not to engage with the person stalking you. If you are in immediate danger, call 911, otherwise, contact a victim services agency and/or the police. Try and keep evidence of the stalking. Have a safety plan for situations that may arise and tell friends, family, and coworkers to help keep you safe.

 

2015NSAM Banner 1If someone you know is being stalked you can support them by offering to escort them places, keep an eye out for their stalker, and helping to arrange for them to find safe spaces.

 

As a reminder: No one owes you their love/affection/time. If someone tells you that your attention isn’t wanted, then take a hint and move on. Yes, it may hurt your feelings but you don’t get to hurt other people for rejecting you. And you don’t just try harder to win them over like in some bullshit movie. That is creepy.