January is Stalking Awareness Month.
Stalking is a form of unwanted contact that either directly threatens or indirectly implies a threat or places a victim in fear. Actions such as: following someone; suddenly appearing at a person's home or workplace; making harassing phone calls; leaving unwanted messages and objects; or vandalizing someone's property are all examples of stalking.
- 7.5 million people were stalked in one year in the U.S.
- 61 percent of female victims and 44 percent of male victims were stalking by a current or former intimate partner
- An estimated 15 percent of women and 6 percent of men have been a victim of stalking during their lifetimes
Data from Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011
Who are victims?
Anyone can be a victim of stalking. Both men and women are stalking victims. NISVS data shows that approximately 88% of female victims were stalked by men and male victims were stalked by men and women in approximately equal numbers (48% and almost 45% respectively). Stalkers come from all communities. Stalking can happen within a relationship, during a break-up, or outside of a relationship altogether.
Impacts of stalking
Stalking is a terrifying crime, leaving victims frequently on-edge, fearing for their safety. During the course of being stalked, or after the stalking has stopped, victims may experience a range of emotions and physical reactions. Some of these reactions may include:
- Heightened anxiety,
- Feelings of self-doubt or blame,
- Thoughts of suicide,
- Challenges with intimacy,
- Gastrointestinal problems,
- Headaches, and
- Heart palpitations.
What can I do if I am being stalked?
- If you feel that you are in imminent danger, trust your instincts and do what makes you feel safe. Consider going to a safe location such as a police station. Call 911 if you fear for your immediate safety.
- Know that you are not to blame for the stalker's behavior.
- Call your local domestic violence or sexual assault program to get support and hear about options and resources. Visit the National Stalking Resource Center's website for more information.
- Consider getting a protection order to keep the stalker away from you.
- Keep a log of the stalking incidences to show the pattern of events. Write down every incident that happens including all the times, dates and other information.
- Keep videotapes, answering machine or voicemail messages, photos of property damage, emails and letters you receive.
- Know that technology can be used to track you.
- Tell important people about the stalking problem including: the police; your employer or school; and family, friends and neighbors.