Stalking is one of the most common crimes, and often one of the easiest for perpetrators to get away with. Approximately 1 out of every 10 women will be stalked at some point. Most victims actually know their stalkers, sometimes very well, which can lead to a certain sense of safety—and they may not take the situation as seriously or recognize the significance of the potential dangers. Often victims may ignore some of the warning signs of stalking. Here are five signs that you are being stalked:
- You tend to notice the same person near you on a regular basis, and they are uninvited. This means that someone is consistently asking your friends or family about you, look for online information by repeatedly searching for you or doing background checks, taking photographs of you, or merely collecting information about you. If someone unexpected continuously turns up in unexpected situations, you may be being stalked.
- Someone repeatedly “stops by” or calls for no reason. While there may be people with whom you have regular daily contact, these people are probably not casual acquaintances. If you get multiple hang-ups on your phone, repeated blocked calls, or silent voice mails, you may be being stalked.
- Unusual activity on your email or social networking profiles. Have you noticed unusual logins on your accounts lately? It is possible that someone has gained access to your accounts and is monitoring your activities online. If you suspect this, change your passwords immediately and continue to carefully monitor your activity so that you can detect unauthorized access. Unauthorized access and monitoring is a sign of stalking.
- Multiple inappropriate gifts. Often a stalker may initially lavish gifts upon their victims as a sign of their “affections.” When the gifts are not properly appreciated or reciprocated (in the stalker’s mind), they may escalate and become angry and frustrated, which could lead to further actions. The stalker may become very jealous and possessive, and more closely monitor the activities of their victims. Gifts may become embarrassing, or be delivered in such a way that exploits the victim further, like sending inappropriate gifts to a workplace.
- Have you found yourself in multiple situations where the same person has “bailed you out?” Has there been a series of events, like a lockout, flat tire, or out-of-gas problem? You may have a stalker that is manipulating situations so that they can be available to “save you,” and have you be appreciative of their efforts. Be cautious if you notice this type of pattern, or if someone seems to “expect” that you are going to have a problem.
Stalking is a very serious crime. These signs are mild and can indicate the beginning of a more serious issue. If at any time you feel uncomfortable in the presence of a friend, acquaintance or stranger, the first thing you should do is limit your contact with them to protect your personal safety. If that strategy doesn’t work, do not hesitate to take further action, including contacting law enforcement personnel. If your gut is wrong, then a little embarrassment is nothing when it comes to your personal protection.