Many times, people have the feeling that they’re being stalked, and in many instances they’re 100% right. The reason is that the statistics support their fear and concerns: according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 18.3 million women are victims of stalking at some point during their lifetime. That’s over 15% of the population, which makes this a serious problem.
Having the feeling that you’re being followed is not uncommon. 85% of those who fear they’re being stalked are women, yet men can be the victims of a stalker as well. You have to remember that stalking is not a normal behavior, and those who do stalk and harass and follow others make the victims feel quite uncomfortable.
Fortunately for Maryland residents, the laws on stalking are quite clear. It’s defined as having another individual whose continued actions would seriously alarm or annoy another person, doing so with the intent to alarm, annoy or harass them. Once this criteria is met, it’s easy to get the appropriate Maryland authorities involved.
Types of Stalking
There are several types of stalkers, but some are more worrisome than others. The “private stranger stalker” is a person who met you on one occasion, and then became obsessed with you and started following or stalking you. Another type is the “intimate stalker” – someone who had a dating or romantic relationship with you and is now overly obsessed with everything you do, and everywhere you go. Either the stalker was rejected or the relationship ended badly and the stalker is now focused on a “payback” for what is perceived to have happened. The victim can also be an ex-boss or employer. They are more insulting, threatening and interfering. This is the most common stalker, and the most dangerous, as they often resort to violence.
Cyberstalking is very common. This stalker constantly barrages their victims with harassing emails, phone calls and text messages. It may start innocently enough, perhaps on a dating website, but it can quickly get out of hand. The first thing to do is identify the cyberstalker. Use Nuwber to look up who is actually harassing you by entering their email address, phone number or other information and try to get their actual name and other pertinent information That may include any criminal or police records. If you get very concerned, contact the authorities and have a restraining, protective or peace order placed on the individual.
While Internet technology has improved our lives in so many ways, it also provides stalkers with an opportunity to “follow you” without ever leaving their computer. It’s all done by constantly scrolling your social media posts, profiles, photos and more. Be vigilant about your social media apps’ privacy settings, so you can know who’s following you and allows you the opportunity to block them if needed.
Signs of A Stalker
There are certain repetitive signs that happen when you’re being stalked. For example, the person seems to know all about your current or prior relationships before you ever talk about them with the person. Or, they may know where you recently traveled on a specific date. Stalkers also want to know what you’re doing – all the time.
They call you, message you or email you. If you don’t respond, they start posting messages on your timeline. For whatever reason, they think you feel exactly the same way about them as they feel about you, even though it’s not remotely true. They’re relentless, and when it spirals out of control, you need to take action.
Additional Steps to Take
Cyberstalkers use social media information about you and your activities. If you post your itinerary on Facebook, for example, stalkers will know your schedule and will be able to follow you throughout your day so make sure you set your Facebook privacy settings (as well as on other social media) so you are in control of who can see your information – and who can’t.
Another key is secure your smartphones and other devices so stalkers can’t access your information. Use antivirus software to prevent stalkers from gaining access to your devices – for smartphones, some of the top ones include Norton Mobile Security, Bitdefender Mobile Security and Avast Mobile Security.
If the stalker is still harassing you, following you around or posting things on social media about you that are not true, get a protective or restraining order to prevent them from continuing the negative activity. If a restraining order is in place and they continue to harass or annoy you in any way, they can be arrested for violating the order. It’s the last resort, but if the stalking becomes intolerable, it’s time to use it to protect yourself.