A stalker could be an ex-partner, a friend, a colleague, a professional you know, an acquaintance or a stranger.
How do they stalk?
There is no legal definition of stalking, but it is generally understood to be a fixation on someone demonstrated through a series of unwanted behaviours that may seem subtle or harmless initially, but become intimidating and very frightening.
These behaviours include, but are not limited to:
- Persistently calling or texting you or sending you messages via social media
- Turning up to your house, school or workplace
- Waiting around places you often go to
- Sending or leaving you gifts or items
- Using social media and internet forums to find out information about you
- Using this information as a way to manipulate or coerce you
- Damaging or breaking things that belong to you
- Contacting people around you, such as your friends and family
- Threatening to harm themselves
- Making threats against you or any of your friends or family
What can you do?
Take some time to have a look at your social media privacy settings online and on your phone. Are your location service settings on? Who can see your photos? Who can tag you? Are your historical posts as private as your recent ones? Is there anyone you want to block access from? Do you have any old social media accounts you don’t use anymore that you can close down?
If you receive frequent unwanted communication, or you see someone loitering around, keep a diary of what they’re saying and when and where they’re appearing.
Take photos of gifts or written messages left for you and any items that have been damaged, but only when it is safe to do so.
Do not engage with the person who is stalking you.
Change your routine where you can and put other things in place that help you to feel safer – carrying a charged mobile phone on you, for example.
Talk to people about what’s happening. Your friends and family may be able to help you keep records of sightings and messages and will be there to support you.
Report the stalking to the police. Keep records of the officers you speak with and the crime reference numbers you’re given.
If you’re worried that you’re being stalked and want to talk to someone about it, you can contact Aurora New Dawn on 02392 479 254. We’re available throughout Stalking Awareness Week to support you to explore your options.
Photo Courtesy of Logan Campbell