What should you do if you’re being stalked?

This week’s blog has a decidedly serious tone and topic.

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

Stalking.

Stalking is a very real problem, a crime,  and now, easier than ever to achieve through digital, social and mobile technology.  Stalking in not a joke. It is not romantic. It is not OK in any way, shape or form.

Stalking is a crime that is pervasive, dangerous and potentially lethal.  Over six million people are stalked each year.  One in 4 women will be victims of stalking during their lifetime.  However, stalking is not limited to women: 1 in 13 men will be stalked in their lives. Stalking rates are highest among college students.

Stalking behavior can start as early as middle and high school. Most victims know their stalker. The Hollywood version, where a person is stalked by an unknown admirer or fan, rarely happens in real life. Intimate partner stalking, particularly when there is a history of intimate partner violence (domestic violence) is the most common and most dangerous.

Because they know their victims, stalkers know how to make their victim feel afraid. Behaviors that may seem insignificant to another person or professionals may be terrifying to the victim. It can be as simple as a card, a symbol, a song, a gift that may contain meaning known only between the stalker and victim.

Phones, computers, GPS and cameras are the most common forms of technology used by stalkers. If you Google “track girlfriend,” you might be amazed at how many sites there are telling someone how to stalk. A person’s children can also, unknowingly be used through the use of technology as “agents” of the stalker.

Stalking affects victims’ lives, not only emotionally, but also physically and financially due to stress and related health issues, and lost time from work.  Victims of stalking are encouraged to keep a log, take screen shots of texts, emails and phone messages. Keep a log of uninvited contacts or appearances of stalker at any time or place.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month.   Join the conversation at the National Stalking Awareness Month Facebook page.  Your supportive words could inspire someone to take action against a stalker.

If you suspect you are being stalked or are not sure, or if you are in a difficult or violent relationship that you want to end, call us at Aurora Family Service. Our number is 414-342-4560.

If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or seek shelter through Sojourner Family Peace Center. Their 24 hour number is 1- 414-933-2722.

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One Response to What should you do if you’re being stalked?

  1. Very cool of you to join in the movement. A guest contributor on my blog also wrote an article, and you’re welcome to take a peek here —-> https://ressurrection.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/stop-stalking-excerpts-from-hey-back-off-by-jennie-withers/

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