Common red flags of a stalker, ways to take action

Common red flags of a stalker, ways to take action
January marks Stalking Awareness Month, and representatives say folks should remember that stalking is a crime

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - January is National Stalking Awareness Month. According to the the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center, nearly 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men have experienced stalking at some point in their lifetime and an estimated 6 to 7.5 million people are stalked in a one year period in the United States.

Stalkers use various tactics, including unwanted contact, such as phone calls, texts, and contact via social media. Some even show up in places where they’re unwanted by the victim. There’s also been cases of stalkers using a listening device, camera or GPS to spy with.

Relationships often go bad, from breakups to divorces, and one partner becomes obsessed, convinced that this is their ideal partner. "It’s repeated boxes of candy, clothing, showing up at your house, putting things through your mail slot, notes on your car, said Brook Zitek, DO, a forensic psychiatrist at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Those situations may seem childish, but police do come across cases that turn serious. People who stalk can be very dangerous, trust your instincts and never, ever underestimate a threat.

The Red flags:

  • You immediately start getting several phone calls or emails right after meeting this person.
  • The person is clingy, controlling, or upset if you want to spend time with friends and family.

Take action:

  • Tell everyone you know that this is going on -- your employer, friends, family.
  • Gently but firmly tell the person you’ve decided to move on. 

Stalking offenders:

  • 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method
  • 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach
  • Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases
  • Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before
  • Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly

There are several different types of stalkers, according to WebMD:

  • Rejected stalker. This person was rejected in a relationship, and they perceive it as an insult
  • Resentful stalker. These are self-righteous, self-pitying people who may threaten, but they are the least likely to act on it.
  • Intimacy-seeking stalker. They believe they are loved or will be loved by the victim
  • Incompetent. This person is socially backward. They doesn’t really understand the social rules involved in dating and romance
  • Predator. This is about control, and violence. The stalker doesn’t necessarily know the victim. The victim may not know she is being stalked.

Zitek said the rejected and predatory stalkers are most likely to cause violence.

If you think you are experiencing stalking but are not sure, here’s a free assessment you can complete provided by the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC).

Resources:

  • Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 En Español
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Stalking is a crime under the laws of 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government.

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