Stalking is a very unpredictable crime. It is hard to know when a stalker will pounce. Stalking can be as simple as following you around to as harsh as causing physical harm to the victim. Some stalkers don’t go further then the following and threatening state but others will attack a victim physically. A victim doesn’t know if the actions they take will make the situation better or worse.
I am often asked if and how domestic violence and stalking are related. The two subjects are closely related. Many abusers are stalkers. They do not see their actions as stalking though. Your abuser may follow you, constantly call you when you are out of their sight to see where you are and who you are with, or have friends of theirs watch you for them. This happens especially at the end of a relationship or when a victim leaves the relationship. Stalking from an abuser is very dangerous. According to the FBI Uniform Crime report in 1998, 30% of homicides committed against women each year are done by abusive partners or former partners.
Victims of stalking may have similar feelings and reactions as if they are being physically abused. Stalking in essence is a form of emotional abuse. Victims feel constantly in fear of what is going to happen if they are aware that they are being stalked or may be stalked. This fear can lead to anxiety, nervousness, feeling vulnerable, falling into depression, and isolating themselves from friends or family. Some victims develop drug and/or alcohol problems to numb themselves from the other emotions they are feeling. Eating problems and eating disorders may result. Hyper vigilance is common practice among victims as well. This is where their safety becomes an obsession to them. Constantly checking locks on doors and windows, going through elaborate protection measures, or just shutting themselves off to everyone are a few common things.
Often times, victims are scared to seek help for a variety of reasons especially people who are or have been in a domestic violence situation. The biggest reason why a victim may not seek help for stalking is because when they were being abused either no one seemed to care or when calls where made to police, nothing was done to the abuser to stop the situation. The victim may feel if the police didn’t care when she/he was being beat up, why would they care if the person is now stalking them. Victims may be unaware of the help available to them. Of course the stalker may be someone well known to many people in the community. Fear of what others may think or do to the victim may be holding them back from seeking help.
It is never to late to seek help. Trust your instinct and speak up before it is too late. Next week we will look what steps to take to protect yourself from a stalker or what to do if you know you are being stalked. Meanwhile, do you have a personal story you can share with others about being the victim of a stalker? Come to the forums and share. Your personal story may save the life of someone else.