We have all had that feeling at some point that someone is watching us. This might be due to watching too many thriller movies or it might actually be because our primal instinct has kicked in and we are in fact being watched and/or followed. So, what should you do if you are not only being followed but actually stalked?
Stalking is a lot more intense than being followed. A stalker tends to know your daily routine of comings and goings. They know where you live, where you work, where you frequently eat lunch, who you socialize with. The most common reason for how they know everything about you is because they actually know you and have interacted with you on one or more occasions.
Victims of stalking can usually tell something is not right by some of the following tell-tale signs:
- Repeated silent calls and hang-ups
- The stalker frequently appears in the same place as the victim
- The victim receives many unwanted gifts, calls, emails, texts, letters, etc.
Seldom acts of these characteristics might appear to be of a secret crush but if not taken seriously they can worsen into further actions including damage of your home and other property and threats to harm.
The most important step is if you feel you are in immediate danger, contact the police. Don’t feel you are wasting their time. This is their job.
Otherwise, the first step is to take precautions to protect yourself, by telling people, you trust about your suspicions. This includes family, coworkers, friends. People who can be an emergency contact person in each area of your life. Having at least one point-person in your regular routine can help you devise a plan on what to do if the stalker appears at your home, work, school etc.
Limit or even better, eliminate any and all contact with the suspected stalker. The less you interact, the safer you are.
Change your routine as much and as often as possible. Have a friend stay over or stay at their house. When possible, have a companion with you when out and about. Change all your passwords for personal and professional accounts.
In today’s world, you also need to be wary of your online presence. Turn off any automated “check-in” options on social media sites and phone tracking applications. Even better, if you do not need social networking sites for work, shut down your accounts. If that’s not an option, update your privacy settings so only certain people to connect with you. Ask people not to include you in posts or tag you in photos.
As soon as you begin to suspect someone, make every effort to keep records of the unwanted behavior. This can all be used as evidence if and when you feel it is time to take legal action and file a court order of restraint.
Install or review your home security system. If you do have an alarm system in place, contact the provider to discuss further ways to improve your safety. If not, consider purchasing a service. Change door locks, lock windows, close your blinds and curtains and have packages delivered to your place of work.
It has become the norm that we know ahead of time when someone is coming to our house but make it a point to ask people to call you beforehand. For extra precaution, ask people to announce themselves on the other side of the door after knocking or ringing the bell.
There are a great number of victim support groups available to call any time of the day so when you find one you like, keep their number in your phone or on your fridge. If you are feeling afraid do not hesitate to call them for advice or even just an empathetic ear.