I’ve been stalked! Yes, what lucky guy hasn’t? Not to make light of it, but I’m a guy who isn’t easily intimidated by bizarre behavior. On the other hand, it’s a bit unsettling to come home and find a dozen messages on a telephone; all from the same person; all with the same plaintive voice wondering where I’ve been and when I’m going to return their calls.
What initially seems cute and romantic, like finding gifts or cards or letters or flowers left by the door becomes a bit tedious and even disturbing, particularly after one has made every attempt to convince the other that there is no interest in any further contact. One has to wonder how long it will go on, and if the attention will escalate into something more sinister.
Being the unwanted target of another person’s obsessions is more than irritating, it’s potentially dangerous. The jump from irritation to threat can be relatively quick, but it should never be a surprise. Consider anyone who demonstrates an obsession towards you or a member of your family as potentially threatening, no matter how seemingly harmless they are. You see, we are in an age where “physical” weakness is not a barrier to those with “psychological” weaknesses to accomplish great violence.
To clarify, you are the victim of a stalker if you are being subjected to any persistent, unwanted contact from an individual, whether you know them personally or not. Many stalkers are not strangers to their victims. Television and movies like to portray stalkers as secret admirers or jilted lovers with sinister motives. It adds to the drama. Often they are socially inadequate characters using anonymity as a source of psychological power that they otherwise physically or emotionally lack.
Though rare, anonymous stalking does happen. But while knowing the identity of your stalker may remove an element of uncertainty from the equation, it doesn’t remove any of the potential danger. Get that into your head! In every violent crime stemming from just such a scenario, there are close friends and associates who state unequivocally that they couldn’t believe the suspect could have committed such a crime. If a person can breathe, they can commit a crime. If they are angry at you, justified or not, the danger factor increases dramatically! They may profess love and devotion, but what they are offering is possessiveness and obsession.
Some people are stalked without actually knowing it’s happening to them. It may be that they are mildly troubled by repetitive attention they seem to be receiving from someone, but aren’t certain if it falls into the category of stalking or whether or not it’s potentially dangerous to them. Where there is a stalker, the potential for violence always exists.
Just as in any sporting event, when dealing with stalkers or those with a potential to become such, there are offensive plays and defensive plays. Rightly or wrongly, society has placed specific and often maddening constraints on our offensive play book. If this were not the case, there would be a lot fewer social transgressors of the stalking type for society to worry about. But, we still have some tricks we can use. With our defensive plays, the sky is almost the limit. Let’s explore a little of both.
Information convicts criminals! Unfortunately, police cannot act without reasonable suspicion. Reasonableness is based on what a reasonable person would believe to be true. In days of old, fathers didn’t require such reasonableness when putting the offender up against the barn wall and describing in lurid detail all the bad things that would happen to them should they persist in bothering a family member. While the law is certainly consistent then as now, in days of old, discretion on the part of the neighbors and community police would most often guarantee the father would not face any charges for scaring the hell out of a persistent, but unwanted suitor!
To convince a police officer of the reasonableness of one’s suspicions that they are being stalked requires records. Such records may be in the form of diary notes or sound recordings from telephone messages; photographs or videos of suspicious activity or persons; statements from friends, family members or co-workers as to the nature of an individual’s unwanted or persistent attention.
You as the victim – or if you are acting on the victim’s behalf – must do the legwork. You must keep the records; you must tell everyone you know of the harassment and whom you suspect, if you suspect anyone. You must enlist the aid of your friends, family and co-workers to observe, record and report. This is not the time to be embarrassed or filled with doubt. Push doubt from your mind and act! These are the tools of the offensive playbook.
Unfortunately, compiling such records takes time. Only the offender has the luxury of knowing how quickly the frustration of watching from afar and being prevented from true love is building within. The sad truth is, even the offender doesn’t always know when the camel’s back will break. This is where the defensive play book becomes handy.
Whether in the home, the car or on the street, an observant and prepared person is a difficult person to harm or take advantage of. At the same time, a person who is in the process of trying to gather enough evidence of harassment to take to the authorities would be foolish to venture into unfamiliar territory unprepared.
There are times when it is prudent to limit the opportunities your adversary has to confront you. It may cramp your style for a period of time, but you are safest when you are in your home. When venturing out, try to do so with help from a trusted friend or family member if possible. Observe! Above all else, be aware of your surroundings and the people and vehicles you share those surroundings with. The only thing that prevents one from taking these steps is hesitation and embarrassment. Neither is appropriate when one’s safety or the safety of a family member or friend is at stake.