This month, January 2022, marks the 18th National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM), a month-long campaign to increase the recognition of and response to stalking. Learn how to protect yourself by understanding what stalking is and how to recognize stalking behaviors.
What is stalking?
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Stalking is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but legal definitions vary based on where you live. To see stalking laws specific to Indiana, visit FindLaw.com.
Stalking is prevalent, with about 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men reporting they have experienced stalking in their lifetimes according to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC). It’s also incredibly dangerous, as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports 76% of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first, while 85% of women who survived murder attempts were stalked.
Recognize stalking behaviors
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, stalkers use a variety of physical and/or digital behaviors, such as:
- making repeated and unwanted phone calls or texts
- sending unwanted letters or emails
- following or spying on you
- showing up wherever you are without a legitimate reason to be there
- driving by or waiting around at places you frequent
- leaving/sending unwanted gifts
- posting information or spreading rumors about you on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth
- looking through your property (including trash cans, your mail, or your car)
- taking your property
- collecting information about you
- taking pictures of you
- damaging your property
- monitoring your phone calls, email, social media, or other computer use
- using technology, like hidden cameras or GPS, to track you
- threatening to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets
- finding out information by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators
- contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers about you
What to do if you are being stalked
Given how dangerous stalking can become, consider these safety planning tips:
- vary your route and routine
- avoid going out alone – employ the “buddy system” as much as possible
- notify family/friends/coworkers about the stalking
- increase your home security by adding locks, cameras, outdoor lights or a home security system
- block the stalkers phone number, email, and social media accounts
- track stalking behavior in an incident log and save any text messages, emails, voicemails, or letters for documentation purposes
- make a police report and obtain a protective order against the stalker
If you think you are a victim of stalking and need safety planning assistance, please call our 24-hour crisis line at 317.920.9320 to chat with an advocate about your situation and options.