Do you feel you are being watched and you fear for your safety? If YES, here are 10 subtle signs on how to know someone is stalking you and how to deal with it.
Even though the concept of being stalked may seem trivial to some, the truth still remains that true stalkers can make your life a living hell; stalking is scary, it’s dangerous and in many cases, illegal.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, unlike other crimes that are defined as an incident, stalking is a course of conduct that may comprise individual acts that may in isolation, seem benign or noncriminal. Knowledge about stalking has developed significantly, and research continues to yield important insights about the crime.
The majority of stalkers use more than one means to obtain information about you, to harass you, or contact you. You can be stalked and not even know it, or it can be glaringly obvious. Stalking is usually defined as a persistent pattern of unwanted behavior committed by another person that makes you feel uncomfortable, threatened or afraid for your safety or that of your family. Stalking often escalates in frequency and severity over time.
Stalking can come in many forms, but in most cases, it comes in form of the following;
Different Forms of Stalking
- Following you or showing up wherever you are: They may or may not make contact with you, but it doesn’t matter. Watching someone repeatedly is a form of harassment.
- Sending persistent, unwanted gifts, letters, notes, e-mails, texts or messages via social media.
- Damaging your home, car, or other property.
- Monitoring your phone, computer use or social media accounts to learn about you, your family, your personal life and your whereabouts.
- Using technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Driving by or hanging out at your home, school, or work.
- Threatening you, your family, friends, or pets. They may also threaten to reveal information (true or not) that could damage your reputation or relationships.
- Seeking information about you via public records, online search services, private investigators, or by going through your garbage, personal property. They may also contact your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers to gain access or information about you.
- Posting personal information or spreading harmful rumors about you.
- Creating or manipulating situations in order to have contact with you, such as applying for a job where you work or calling you with a personal emergency to make you feel guilty or sorry for them.
In the United States alone, about 6.6 million people were stalked yearly. Contrary to common belief, women are not the only ones who are subject to this form of unwanted attention. Men are stalked too. However, 76% of stalking victims are female, nearly one in four stalking victims is male.
Most people know their stalkers intimately: 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims are stalked by a current or former romantic partner (spouse, significant other or lover). 76% of women murdered by an intimate partner had been stalked by that person in the year prior to their death.
Stalkers have been known to make use of technology to enhance their craft. 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through some form of technology such as e-mail or text message. 10% of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and 8% report being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices.
Studies show that 75% of victims know their stalker in some way, but a stalker isn’t always a stereotypical jilted lover or jealous spouse. In fact, many stalkers may have no romantic interest in the victim, rather they see them as a possession to be owned or controlled.
Surprisingly enough, stalking was not always illegal. Back then, victims of stalking could only pursue their stalkers under harassment laws, which were woefully inadequate. It was only a few years ago that a law that defined the signs of stalking was set in place to protect people from this uncomfortable behavior.
But why has it taken so long for these laws to be set in place? One reason could be that it is difficult to pinpoint the signs of stalking. The line between unwanted attention and a criminal act can be extremely fragile. Studies have identified 5 main types of stalkers, they are;
5 Types of Stalkers
- The Jilted: these types of stalkers pursue a former lover with the intention to reconcile with them or carry out revenge for being dumped. Usually, they have a history of criminal assault and can be quite violent. This type of stalkers are the most dangerous.
- The affection seekers: this category of stalkers pursue people who they would want to have a relationship with. They usually suffer from Erotomania delusions and they tend to see their victims as the perfect person for them. These types are often delusion and live in a fantasy world of their own making and are not usually dangerous. They just think that they’re in love with the victim and it is unreciprocated.
- The inept: these set know very well that the victim has no interest in them, however, they want their behavior to lead to a relationship. They are usually not smart and are socially awkward. Unlike the affection seekers, they do not endow their victims with grand qualities and they will often make crude attempts at romantic gestures and know they probably won’t get anywhere.
- The resentful: these set of stalkers have a persecution complex and feel wronged by their victim and as such, the want revenge, or to frighten and upset the object of their obsession. The usually suffer from Paranoid delusions. Resentful stalkers typically suffer from some sort of mental illness and can often end up in psychiatric care.
- Predator: this type of stalker, follows and studies their victim and prepares in advance for attack. Usually they have a history of prior sexual attacks and they show no warning signs before they attack. These types of stalkers are quite dangerous and violent, and they need medical help to control their feelings and violent actions.
Here are some character tics that most of these stalker categories tend to have in common. Some of these signs are obvious while some may not be very easy to detect to the undiscerning eye.
5 Characters Stalkers Have in Common
- They are obsessive in nature: The stalker will have obsessive traits and fixate on their subject. Their every waking moment will focus on their victim. You might find an area dedicated to the subject of their affection, such as a shrine or scrapbook. Their over-riding thoughts are concerned with pursuing their victim.
- They have delusional thoughts: stalkers see patterns everywhere. A simple greeting by the victim can be seen by them as a sign of romantic interest and as such they feel encouraged.
- They don’t take no for an answer: no matter what the victim says or does, stalkers cannot believe that the victim is not interest in them. Even the strongest worded rejection is seen as a sign of love and commitment by them. In fact, the more a victim protests, the more they believe it is a covert sign. They think that all they need to do is have more patience with their victim and he or she will come to reciprocate their affection.
- Some of them are smart: in order to follow their victims around, stalker have to develop some smart strategies. They are adept at obtaining information about their victims and will use covert methods to get close to them. It is not uncommon for them to turn to technology in order to enhance their operation. They will also use their intelligence to throw others off their trail.
- They have low self-esteem: Stalkers often tie their self-worth with the person they are pursuing. Typical loners, they long for a relationship that delivers a sense of worth. Associating with a special person raises the stalker’s profile and they see themselves in the same circle as their victim.
10 Signs on How to Know That Someone is Stalking You
a. You keep running into them: running into someone in multiple occasions can be funny at first, but it can escalate to creepy and then terrifying when it happens all the time. It is not natural or normal behavior for someone to keep running into the same person all the time.
b. They keep hanging around your place of work or neighborhood: Are you constantly bumping into the same guy after work, when shopping or on order errands? Does he park next to you in the garage or near you on the street?
Running into him every night at the gym does not make him a stalker. But seeing him later at the mall or lurking in your neighborhood when you get home may be cause for concern. Occasional meetings could be coincidences if you live or work in the same area. But repeated meetings could signal stalking.
c. Watching You: they can follow you from a distance watching and gathering information about you. They may take pictures of you, ask people about you or check public records or collect information from other sources such as public records or online research firms.
Some go so far as to hiring a private detective to follow you in an attempt to learn every detail of your private life. If you feel you’re being watched, or you often recognize the same person in a crowd, you may be under the surveillance of a stalker.
d. Repeated Phone Calls: getting constant phone calls from someone you are not seeing socially can be a telltale sign of a stalker. So, how much is too much? Multiple calls every week from someone you know only casually is likely a reason to worry, though calling can take the form of hang-ups or long silences on your voicemail too. If you think that the constant phone call is inappropriate, tell the person to stop calling. If the calls continue unabated, keep a log of the times he or she calls and inform the police.
e. Inappropriate Gifts: If someone gives you a gift that you don’t feel happy with, give it straight back. Inappropriate gifts can be one of those signs of stalking we don’t notice until it’s too late. A typical tactic is to send the gifts to your office. This causes you embarrassment and distress as you’re forced to acknowledge the gifts to your peers, even if only to say you have no idea who sent them.
f. They appear to be a knight in shiny amour: Anyone can experience a flat tire or breakdown on the highway, of course, but many stalkers enjoy playing the hero. So in order to be the hero, they create these dramatic situations with the intention of “rescuing” the object of their obsession and thus not only appearing heroes but also getting the victim to be in their debt.
These incidents can include a suspiciously sudden flat tire, a car that won’t start or running out of gas unexpectedly. The stalker appears and gallantly changes your tire or has a spare gas can that solves your problem. Even though it may be tempting to accept their help, you should not as this will further encourage them. Instead, you should tell them politely that you have already called for help and they’re on their way. Then find a safe place to wait.
g. Manipulating You Into Interacting: Stalkers look for any way to interact with their victims. Some even try to manipulate the object of their stalking into contact by filing a frivolous lawsuit. These legal tactics can range from the ridiculous to the ruthless. The stalker draws you into his orbit by forcing you to defend yourself.
Other forms of manipulation they can resort to include, threatening to maim themselves, commit suicide or harm someone else unless the victim intervenes. If you find yourself being manipulated into behaviors that you otherwise wouldn’t condone, you’re likely being stalked and should report the person to the police immediately.
h. They stalk you online: Some stalkers send emails and texts to their victims daily. Or they’ll leave Facebook, Twitter or Instagram messages and photos. In some cases, their messages include links to suggestive websites. That’s a big red flag.
Sometimes, internet stalking can go hand in hand with physical stalking. In some cases, the stalker may not even know the real identity of his victim. He may have only seen his or her profile on social media and become obsessed. This does not make Internet stalking (also called cyber-stalking) acceptable.
Most law enforcement agencies have cyber-crime units, and Internet stalking is treated as seriously as physical stalking. If you’re being harassed online, report what’s happening to your Internet service provider as well as local law enforcement.
i. Stalkers often try to isolate their victims from family and friends: they can do this by sharing slanderous information with the intention to damage the victim’s reputation and alienate them from those closest to him or her.
When hurtful or damaging information is made public, your first reaction may be to withdraw. But that’s what your stalker wants. He will then try to move in, becoming your knight in shining armor. You should make sure that you should not turn to your stalker for comfort no matter how sympathetic they appear to be. Instead, do your best to stay strong and maintain your social circle.
j. Violence and threats: some stalkers turn to violence and threat in order to intimidate their victims. Your car may be vandalized or your home burglarized. If you suspect a stalker is to blame, or if you receive threats or someone claims responsibility for the crime, report it immediately to the police. The information you provide may help the police piece together evidence from the crime and take action against your stalker at the same time.
How to Deal With a Stalker Without Compromising your Personal Security
Unfortunately, proving that someone is stalking you can be difficult for some reasons. When stalking starts, it can be easy to overlook as coincidence, innocent or something harmless and as such there may not be any concrete evidence. However, if you feel you are being stalked, threatened or harassed in any way, you should not suffer in silence. Here’s what you can do:
1. Adhere to The 3 golden rules: The police advice is to follow three Golden Rules which are;
- Have no contact with the stalker: as soon as you tell the stalker in very clear but polite terms that you do not want to have anything to do with them, you should not have any further contact with them. Any further contact with them will be perceived by them as encouragement and as such will further embolden them. You should however not confront a stalker alone. If you can, have a witness present when you tell him or her to leave you alone. Be smart and safe; you may not be dealing with a rational person.
- Tell other people: if you feel that you are being stalked, do not keep it to yourself. Tell your friends and family members. This is because they can provide evidence in court and not unwittingly give details to the stalker. Don’t be embarrassed to tell on your stalker! The more people who know, the more people you’ll have looking out for you and your family.
- Collect evidence about the stalking: It is essential to provide proof of your stalking so keep a journal. Take photographs or video the stalker. Save texts, emails, record phone calls, if you get deliveries call the company to find out who ordered it. Not everyone can see the signs of stalking or they might not believe you (even the police will need some sort of proof before they can step in), so make sure you can prove it.
2. Install a Home Security System: A very good way to be preventative and protect yourself from potential stalkers in and around your home is to install an alarm system. Choose a dedicated wireless system so that even if your phone or broadband lines are cut, the system is still active. Home security systems can be installed quickly. Once you have one, use it consistently.
Make sure it’s activated even when you’re home. Visit our home security systems reviews to learn more. In addition, many home security companies offer key fobs with panic buttons. If you feel you are at risk, you and your children should each have one with you at all times so that you can alert your home security provider if there are any problems.
3. Protect your kids: irrespective of if a stalker has made a direct threat to your family members or not, you should take extra steps to keep them safe. If you are being stalked, you should beef up the security around your kids. Bring the school of your kids into the loop about the situation.
Do not feel ashamed because the safety of your kids depends on it. Make sure your child’s school and any caretakers have a list of who is and who is not allowed to contact or pick up your child from school. Where possible, give the photo and the vehicle description of the stalker to them.
Depending on how old your child is, explain the situation to him or her and help them to understand that this person is disturbing you. Make them to understand that they are to have no contact with that individual under any circumstances and to let you know if they see the stalker anywhere.
Don’t let children walk to and from school or the bus stop alone. Find alternate arrangements or a trusted adult to accompany them if you cannot. Establish a short, simple code word to say on the phone or to text as a warning, a call for help or to tell your children not to come home. Teach them how to call the police in case of an emergency.
4. Report to the police: Don’t be discouraged if they can’t do anything at first. Provide photos and vehicle descriptions to them.
5. Limit Social Media Use: Watch what you post on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To be extra safe, close your social media accounts and tell others not to post anything about you or your children. The less information your stalker has, the safer you will be.
Alternatively, you should set your social media account as private and make sure that you do not accept a friend request from someone you do not know. The stalker can create a different account just so that they can insert themselves into your life.
6. Change Numbers, Locks and Patterns of Behavior: Change your phone numbers, including your mobile phone. Give out your new number only to those who absolutely need it. Change your locks, especially if there is any chance the person harassing you could have a key.
Change your daily patterns. Most people are creatures of habit, driving the same route to work, running the same loop around the neighborhood, and stopping for coffee at the same time each morning. Stalkers rely on these predictable patterns. Don’t stop living your life, but find ways to shake up your daily routines.
7. Dealing with GPS: sometimes, it just seems like a stalker is psychic. They seem to always know where you are at any point in time. However, you may be surprised to know that they have already planted a GPS tracking device in your car and as such, they are privy to your location and can always find you whenever they want.
If you suspect that your car may have a tracking device in it, you can use the following procedures to track down the GPS and remove it.