The first thing to know is that stalking is a crime in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and on all Federal land. Here’s the legal definition of stalking:
“A pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”
If someone is calling, texting, showing up, posting or commenting on your social media feed so much that it’s scaring you, then there’s something you can do about it. Start with the five steps below. And remember: stalking is a crime. If someone is stalking you, they’re committing a crime, and you’re the victim. That means you have power – and you can go to the police.
Stalking Victims: Five Steps to Take
- Know you are the one who decides if you’re being stalked. Not your family, not your friends, and certainly not the family and friends of your stalker. Trust your instincts and put your safety above everyone else’s feelings or opinions. Stalking can lead to real harm and danger: don’t ignore this fact.
- If you’re in danger – and again, you decide that, not anyone else – then call the police immediately. Explain what’s happening and why you’re afraid.
- Document, document, document. Start keeping a log of each incident of contact as soon as someone’s interest in you starts to scare you. The more information you have, the better. Make a record of each and every red-flag incident that occurs, no matter how minor it may seem at the time.
- Save every email, text, photo, direct message, and social media post or comment the stalker sends or makes. In court, documents like these – especially third-party documents such as cell phone logs – are incredibly persuasive. They constitute evidence of a crime that’s close to impossible to refute.
- Reach out to a victim advocacy or resource center to talk to an experienced person about your situation and what you can do.
If you’re in immediate danger or feel threatened and fear for your safety in any way, pick up the phone and call the police right away. If you’re not in immediate danger, you can get help, support, and advice by calling these numbers:
- Victim Connect: 1 (855) 484-2846
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 799-7233 En Espanol: 1 (800) 787-3224
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1 (800) 656-4673
Don’t wait for the stalking to escalate!
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA who writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.