Every year in the US, approximately 14 in every 1,000 Americans aged 18 or over become victims of stalking. Both men and women can experience harassment, but women are at a greater risk of stalking victimization. Many times, the stalker is known to the victim, and unwanted contact comes from an ex-spouse or partner. Additionally, with the advent of technology, the ways a perpetrator can harass their victims have changed. Around 1 in 4 victims claim to have experienced some form of cyberstalking, either by email or instant messenger. If you have a stalker, or you know someone who is being harassed, it is important to know what to do and what not to do. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.
Resist the Urge to Respond
First of all, it is extremely important not to engage with your stalker, either online or in person. If you have already made it clear that they are not to make contact with you, any other form of response will encourage them to continue. It’s also a good idea to make sure any friends and family that are aware of the situation do not contact the individual either.
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to tell family, friends, and even neighbors what is going on, so that they can be alert and inform you of any odd behaviors they notice. You will also need a support system when you are experiencing any form of harassment, so confiding in those closest to you can help relieve any anxiety you are feeling.
Use the Internet the Right Way
The internet can be used to control, manipulate, or harass any person online without a threat of physical harm, and so an astonishing number of cyberstalking cases go unreported. However, you can dramatically reduce the chances of becoming a victim of cyberstalking by reviewing your privacy settings and taking your digital safety seriously. Always check that your privacy settings on every social media page are set to private or friends only, and ensure that anyone close to you knows not to inadvertently reveal your location.
If you have you have suspicions about your stalker, or simply want to put your mind at rest by checking out their background without having to access their social media pages, you can use an online public records site to your advantage. For example, you can find Superior Court Records via PublicRecordsReviews. These court records will reveal both major and minor crimes that the offender has committed since superior court records include both criminal and civil cases, as well as appeals from other courts.
Protect Your Personal Information Offline
As well as protecting your information online, you need to also make sure you protect your personal information offline. Make sure to only give out your personal details to people that you trust, and be vigilant when it comes to discarding any paperwork. If you can, shred any letters before they go in the trash can, to keep both your home and work address private.
If the incidences become serious enough, report them to the police. It helps if you have a record of everything. Logging any patterns of behavior will help officers to investigate further, so include what the stalker looked and sounded like, what happened, when, and where. Try to log the details soon after the incident, so that the details are fresh in your memory, and to ensure that they are accurate. Also, make sure you keep any evidence, including parcels, letters, messages and emails. If you receive anything in the post and you recognize the handwriting, it would be best to leave it unopened.
Be Wary of Unknown Numbers
Most people are dubious about answering phone calls with the dreaded ‘Unknown’ or ‘Private’ number showing up on their cellphone screens, but you should be extra careful not to answer if you are not expecting a call. More importantly, do not answer with your name, or answer any questions with personal information before you know who the caller is. You can also use the settings on your cellphone to block any unwanted phone calls.
Mix Up Your Daily Routine
If you are worried about being followed home from work or your daily run, try to mix up where and when you go. If you take the same route to work each morning, or you leave your house at the same time each evening for a jog, it is all too easy for a stalker to realize when you are most likely to be on your own. You might benefit from a buddy system, where you always walk with a friend or family member. Also, you may want to consider investing in a personal attack alarm and make sure that you keep your cellphone with you at all times.
Of course, if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, the first thing you should do is call 911, but these tips should help you to stay safe.