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Stalking It Is Never Okay...Know the Signs!

Picture: "You" Netflix Original Series

In the show “You” we can see what happens when a disturbed mind becomes obsessed with the object of his affection. What is even worse is how some people believed it to be romantic!

Stalking is anything but romantic. It is eerie to watch as Joe finds out everything he can about his obsession, Beck, and how easy it is for him to find it. In an age where technology rules, making our lives less complicated, it is also far too easy to find any and all information about someone with the click of a button.

The legal definition of stalking is: “the act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death especially because of express or implied threats.” Almost seven million people in the United States alone are stalked in a one year period. Stalking can include unwanted phone calls or texts, showing up in places where the victim is when the victim doesn’t want them to be there, or spying on the victim.

About 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men have reported being stalked at some point in their life. Stalking behaviors can escalate quickly, and most first time offenses are not classified as a felony. According to psychologists researching the subject of stalking, there are two types of stalking: “Love Obsession” and “Simple Obsession.”

Love Obsession stalkers fixate on someone they’ve never met, and make up fantasy lives in their head of the object of their affection. Stalkers of this type generally have a mental disorder like schizophrenia, etc.

Simple Obsession stalkers usually had a previous relationship with their victim, most likely a romantic one. SO’s usually have low self esteem and intimidate their partner to feel powerful. If their partner leaves, they become obsessed with getting them back just to fuel their own self worth. This type of stalking is about 70-75% of all stalking cases.

I have personally never experienced stalking, but I’ve seen it happen to someone I’m very close to. When I reached out on my Facebook for people’s experiences, I got a ton of feedback from my friends and family. I’d never known that some of these people had experienced something so harmful.

One of my friends, who I will call L, told me about her own experience with stalking:

“...I loved being with him, he made me feel like the center of his universe… I could see a wound, too, an instinct that if he didn’t heal it, it would cause problems. I told him… I couldn’t be with him. I had to be really stern. And he spiraled from there. Obviously the wound I saw was very real. He would drive past the house often. Leave gifts. Change his number to get through my blocks, show up at my job. Every day it was something. He began to threaten to harm himself. This kind of stalking is the most common.”

Luckily, she went to court, and this man now has a restraining order against him.

Another woman I know, who I’ll call O, talked to me about her own experience. She’d been working at a Subway when a man came in looking for a job for his step daughter. O eventually got another job at the library, and the same man came in looking for her. This man was a registered sex offender, but the law could do nothing because the library was a “safe place” for him to go and he hadn’t done anything to her to warrant a restraining order. O got lucky, because the man stopped coming in eventually, but in most cases the stalker does not just go away. The trauma of this, however, still lives on in her mind.

I watched as someone I knew was harassed daily by her ex, who made threatening phone calls that became more and more delusional. He even made threats against her family, and that’s when she had to take action. The law was on her side, luckily, but there wasn’t much they could do if they couldn’t find him to deliver the restraining order papers. The police, etc, are important to have informed, but sometimes there’s not much that they can do. That’s why it’s important to be aware.

There are some things you should do if you feel you’re a victim of stalking:

1) Be aware of your surrounding. 2) Tell the people close to you, so that they can also be proactive. 3) Document everything. This is important for if/when you go to the police. 4) Avoid all contact with your stalker. 5) Beef up your security, however you can.

The most important thing is to be aware that stalking is a crime, and it is not uncommon. So protect yourself, and stay aware at all times. If you know someone is being stalked, encourage them to take precautions and be there for them in any way you can. And most importantly, please remember that stalking should not be romanticized and should always be taken seriously.

You might not end up in a glass cage like Beck (spoiler!) but something equally as terrifying could happen to you if you aren’t careful.

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