The most recent text said, “I really liked that outfit you wore today- you look amazing!” 

Other texts were less pleasant.  Some were downright terrifying–“I’m going to kill you and your family.” “I know where you live now.” You think you’re finished with me, but I’m not finished with you.”   
As she told me her story, her eyes kept looking towards her car in the parking lot. The fear in her face was obvious as she told me more about how he had stalked her for weeks. “How can he possibly know where I am?” she wondered aloud.  
I asked her if she had checked her phone for any apps she didn’t recognize. “OMG”, she cried as she stared at two apps on her phone she hadn’t installed.  I advised her that some apps aren’t what they appear to be. As we searched her phone, we discovered that one of the apps did have tracking capabilities!
“No wonder he knows everything I do and everyone I’m with” she whispered. “I have never been so frightened in my life. I just know he is going to hurt me.”
Stalking is a serious crime that is often violent and tends to escalate over time.  It is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. A stalker can be someone you know or a stranger. However, most often it is people who have been dating and most commonly it is men stalking women. However, women do stalk men, men do stalk men and women do stalk women.  
Stalking is not uncommon in America- 75 million people are stalked each year!
Stalkers often:
•Repeatedly call you, sometimes hanging up
•Follow you and show up wherever you are
•Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts or emails
•Damage your home, car or other property
•Monitor your phone calls and/or computer use
•Use technology, including hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS) to track your movements
•Drive by or hang out at your home, school or work
•Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets
•Find out about you using public records (sometimes with knowledge of your personal info- maiden name, date of birth, social security number, passwords), online searches, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or even contacting friends, family, co-workers or neighbors
•Other actions that are intended to control, track or frighten you.
Stalkers are unpredictable and often dangerous but you are not to blame for a stalker’s behavior.
There are some things you can do to increase your personal safety.

•Trust your gut instinct- if you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
•Take all threats seriously. Risks are highest when the stalker talks about murder or suicide and/or when you try to leave or end a relationship.
•Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you
•Keep any evidence of the stalking (time, date and place you were contacted), emails, phone messages, letters or notes. Photograph anything the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes.
•Contact the Police.
•Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you
•Tell friends, family, roommates and co-workers about the stalker.
•Contact a crisis line to help you develop a safety plan, give you information about local laws and refer you to other services.
If you are someone you know is being stalked or is in danger, the Crisis HELPline is available 24/7. Call 256.716.1000

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