NOTE: this, is NOT a “how-to” guide, found on Yahoo!.com…
One in six women will be stalked in her lifetime…
The word, “stalking” had taken on a whole new definition in the cultural lexicon. It’s the word we increasingly use to describe the garden-variety, 21st-century voyeurism we partake in everyday — behaviors at which no one bats an eye. “Stalking” a person online before an upcoming date is common, even de rigueur. “Stalking” frenemies we haven’t talked to in years (but still know all about via their Facebook profiles) has basically become a new pastime.
But the truth is, actual stalking is not something to simply brush off, mention in passing or take lightly. It’s very real and very scary — and this era, it’s all too easy to get caught up in a stalker’s snare. In fact, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 14 men will be stalked in their lifetimes.
When looking just at women, 1 in 6 — and that’s a conservative estimate — will be stalked at some point over the course of her life. Using a wider definition, though, involving persistent behaviors that make victims uncomfortable or fearful, that number is closer to 1 in 4 women.
There’s an under-awareness about stalking, says Michelle Garcia, director of the Stalking Resource Center. “Some estimates suggest 7.5 million people are stalked yearly in the United States,” she tells Yahoo Health. “And that’s only adults.”
Stalking behavior isn’t uncommon among high school students — especially cyberstalking, which can be done easily from a distance via publically accessible information online. The behavior is also on the rise among the college set: According to a new study from the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University, almost twice as many college students report being stalked in the past 12 months than those in the general public (4.3 percent versus 2.2 percent). In fact, the Stalking Resource Center reports that half of female victims and one-third of male victims are under the age of 25.
You probably know your stalker.
Stalking is not a random crime. Generally, a stalker is someone the victim knows (or knew) well — often an ex or someone who was (or wishes to be) romantic with the victim. “It’s an intimate partner in about 50 percent of cases,” Garcia says. “In other situations, it’s an acquaintance — it could be a relative, a casual friend, or a person you see at the coffee shop every morning.” The point is, victims are usually familiar with, or at least aware of, the person doing the stalking.
For Katie*, her stalker was a guy from her elementary school. “When he added me on Facebook, I thought nothing of it,” she explains. “He would chat me, usually super-friendly, asking me how my day was, etc. — all was well. He wasn’t someone I would ever consider a romantic relationship with, but he was nice enough and we would talk. I even gave him my number at one point. This was my freshman year of college in 2008.”
But Katie knew something was off. ”He started hurting himself ‘accidentally’ and telling me about it, like slamming his hand through a window on purpose and needing stitches, head injuries, you name it,” she says. “This was the beginning of my fear.”
Indeed, another common characteristic of stalking behavior is that the attention is constant and makes the recipient uncomfortable, no matter who is doing it. The stalkers engage in behaviors that raise that red flags in your gut — incessant texts or messages, random gifts, sudden appearances, or, as in Katie’s case, attention-seeking comments and behaviors.
Intimate partners who are stalkers are also more likely to physically approach their victims and most likely to escalate contact, but progressive behavior can happen to anyone. More than two-thirds of stalkers will reach out to the object of their desire at least once a week, often daily, and 78 percent use multiple forms of communication — from letters, IMs, emails, gift deliveries, phone calls, and showing up unannounced. The stalker’s initial approach may seem harmless or soft, but the motives may not be.
Stalking is usually a slow and steady build.
A pattern of stalking is generally not an immediate, in-your-face realization. Pursuit is often a collection of behaviors that start small but then grow to something bigger, from a few strange emails to excessive, unpredictable, in-person contacts. “One of the biggest challenges with stalking is that individual behaviors are part of a bigger picture when it comes to stalking,” says Garcia. “It’s a progression, and it’s always context dependent. It’s not criminal to call or to send someone flowers.”
What constitutes stalking is not an exact science. For instance, if a boyfriend or a telemarketer calls a few times in a day, most people would generally not consider this bizarre. But if a waiter from a favorite restaurant in town, or an ex dumped six months ago continuously Facebook messages someone, it’s a little different. “It’s a series of events, and it can escalate over time,” Garcia says.
There is more information on this, on Yahoo!.com, feel free to check it out, and, all I’m gonna say about this subject, is that you can NEVER be careful with these kinds of things, and, when the two of you are still experiencing the Honeymoon Phase of your relationship, you have the tendency, to misinterpret the possessiveness that the person you’re dating shows towards you, and that, is why you got yourselves SCREWED, and, by the time you realize it, well, it may damn well be, too late, to break free…so, DO watch out for these signs.