For someone who is stalked, the fear doesn’t end at the front door. It often continues in nightmares; for example, a married woman having a peaceful night’s rest is woken up, not by her husband, but by the dark eyes of a stalker, and the once empty home is now invaded with no signs of help.
Another woman goes to a convention, hoping for a good time. The last thing she expects is a stalker, but that is exactly what she gets. A man follows her all night, watching her like a statue. He even asks to drive her home. She declines. Once she is home, she thinks she is safe only to find the same man standing outside her home watching her. He had gotten her address through a Christmas card and decided to stalk her even though he did not live anywhere near her. And he watches her all night.
A different woman comes home to a mess, not because of a child or a party but because a stalker has found his way into her home. Not only did he break into her home, he accessed her schedule with reminders of important dates and photos. This man now knows her every move, when she gets up in the morning, when she leaves for work, and if she has any big plans. There is no telling how much damage he could do.
These are all real stories from a Reddit forum on stalking. Stalking is a common crime which, for some, continues every day. Stalking is the act of keeping surveillance on an individual for harassment or intimidation. According to the Stalking Resource Center, 7.5 million people are stalked annually in the U.S., a number so high that 15 percent of women and six percent of men report being stalked to the point they feared for their lives.
The victims’ paranoia can become deadly due to always fearing being watched, being prey to the predator. “Stalking takes a severe psychological toll on its victims,” according to the American Psychiatric Association. Australian stalking expert Paul Mullen, M.D., found that 83 percent of the stalkers in his study “were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and 37 percent with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An additional 18 percent had PTSD symptoms but did not meet formal diagnostic criteria. Twenty-four percent had suicidal ideation, and 25 percent increased their alcohol consumption and/or cigarette smoking.”
According to the Stalker Resource Center, 61 percent of females who are stalked and 44 percent of males who are stalked experience this from an intimate partner or former partner. Although people are most likely to be stalked by intimate partners, it is possible to be stocked by an acquaintance, stranger, co-worker, a student, client, even a family member. Twenty five percent of female stalking and 32 percent of male stalking is done by acquaintances.
The website for the National Center for Victims of Crime provides extensive information on stalking including information about the national stalking month in January.
This January marks the fifteenth annual stalking awareness month. This time of the year has been designed to help people understand the crime.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states; however, it is not often taken seriously on the first offense. Also, the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week resource guide says that over 60 percent of stalking victims who reported a stalking crime had no action taken.
Law enforcement, according to the NCVRW, requires a lot of proof of stalking to charge a stalker with a crime. A total of 20 percent of proof must be that victims feared for their safety and 7 percent that they feared for their life. This prevents people from making false claims. The issue, however, is getting the proof. Some stalking victims must take extreme measures and put cameras outside or even inside their homes.
Why make someone’s life miserable?
Why would someone want to stalk in the first place? The NCVRW resource guide says that most stalkers were a former or current intimate partner. Most, but not all, stalkers are men. Statistics from WebMD say that 80 percent of stalkers are males stalking women.
Psychologists from WebMD believe that if someone broke off a relationship then the “victim” of the break up might use stalking as a way to harass their previous partner as a form of revenge.
Others may use stalking in an immature attempt to be “social,” according to WebMD. They may stalk people’s social media accounts in order to get to them without stepping out of their home.
“The intimacy-seeking stalker” may use stalking as an obsessive way to show their “love” for someone in an attempt to make someone love them. This is a very common delusion among celebrity stalking. Stalkers go to very extreme lengths to stay close to their prey or to show their love and appreciation for their “lover,” according to WebMD.
One stalker went so far as to attempt to kill Lana Del Ray because he “loved” her so much. He even posted to Facebook his “love” for her, as well as a warning that this would be his last day on Facebook, the same day of the attempted murder.
Predatory stalkers invade privacy to track their prey’s every movement. The predatory stalker’s motive is to eventually attack the person. They crave power and will do anything they can to get it even going so far as to create violence. Predatory stalking is usually almost always about sex, according to WebMD.
As people live online with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms, information is spread that assists stalkers.
Social media allows users to over share things, such as family information, phone numbers, birthdays and email. These things sound like normal things to put on social media, but this information also benefits a stalker.
How does someone stay safe?
If staying online is so dangerous, then how does one stay safe? There are many things a person can do to be safer online:
• Log out of computers on campus or in any public place.
• Do not save your log in info to google. The next person may be able to log in to your information.
• Be careful what you share on social media, or set your Facebook to private as well as blocking your profile unless you accept a person’s friend request.
• Putting curtains up may make some people feel safer.
• Locking windows and doors.
• If you feel you may be stalked, invest in cameras to set up around your home.
What resources does UCC offer?
Feeling safe on Campus is just as important as staying safe online. There is more to being safe than looking behind the shoulder or not taking wanted classes just because they are offered at night.
UCC supports the 1972 Educational Amendments of Title IX. Title IX prohibits Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. This means that UCC will assist in the investigation of these crimes to make sure they don’t happen again. The website www.camhpus.oregonsatf.org gives free answers to questions UCC students may have about Title IX, and it is also confidential.
Information about Title IX can also be found in UCC bathrooms. Students can also call security if they feel unsafe, and students can also use the blue emergency station stands around campus that light up blue at the top when activated. These can be used in emergency situations or in a situation where you do not feel safe. For more information on Title IX, see https://www.umpqua.edu/title-ix
The emergency stations record daily and never stop; this means that if anything were to happen, the situation will be recoded for further investigation.
How to use emergency stations
The stations are simple. Just press the button. Security guards will get the call immediately and will also respond the moment they get the call. So far the stations have not been used in an emergency situation.