1. Dating & Relationships
Stalked? How to Tell... What to Do...
By Terry Miller Shannon of teenwire.com
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Him - again? How do you know when you're just suffering from unwanted attention or if you're actually being stalked? And what should you do if you are being stalked?

What Is Stalking?
Stephen Thompson, sexual assault services coordinator at Central Michigan University, says, "Stalking is any behavior that would make a reasonable person feel threatened, intimidated, annoyed, or afraid."

To decide if a situation is stalking, the law will consider:

  • Reasonableness: Would any reasonable person feel threatened by this behavior?
  • Repetition: Has the situation happened more than once?
  • Effect: Does the victim see the behavior as a danger (no matter how it's intended)?
  • Avoidability: Could the victim easily avoid the situation?
  • Notice: Was the person told that his or her behavior made the victim uncomfortable? Some teen girls suffer from "too nice syndrome" - which can be taken the wrong way by an eager stalker. Don't worry about seeming rude; you must be direct and firm when you say you're not interested. It's a good idea to have a friend witness you saying, "No, thanks. Please stop," or, if you decide to do it in writing, send a registered letter asking the person to discontinue the actions that make you uncomfortable.

Who Stalks?
Women stalk, but most stalkers are men. A stalker is much more likely to be someone you know than someone you don't. These are the people who can become stalkers, from most likely (your ex) to least likely (a stranger):

  • your ex
  • a casual date
  • an acquaintance
  • a stranger

Stalking Behavior
A stalker may start with small, annoying, persistent actions and progress to criminal behavior. Some examples of stalking behavior are:

  • trying to start or keep a relationship that you don't want
  • threatening you or the safety of someone close to you
  • harming you
  • unwanted repeated calls, e-mails, or letters
  • following you

If You're a Stalking Victim
Imperative Step Number One: Find an ally. Do not deal with this potentially dangerous situation by yourself. You must tell your parents or another trusted adult immediately.

Pay attention, to the stalker - and to yourself. Never ignore the first signs of stalking. You have a creepy feeling about someone? Sit up and take notice. Always, always trust your instincts. It beats someday saying, "I knew there was something wrong...I wish I'd paid attention."

Talk to the police. Don't put it off. The longer the behavior continues, the harder it may be to stop because the stalker may have become more obsessive. No one can accurately predict if a stalker will actually become violent. A confrontation with a police officer stops most stalkers.

Document thoroughly. Write down all of the stalker's behavior in detail. Keep answering machine tapes, letters, e-mails, gifts, photos, etc.

Consider a restraining order. Although some experts believe a restraining order will make a bad situation worse, Stephen Thompson, sexual assault services coordinator at Central Michigan University, disagrees. He says, "A restraining order gives notice, which is essential for legal action. It will frequently stop the offending behavior.

For more information on stalking, see the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Cyberstalking
Someone is hassling you online? Or you want to avoid ever having someone stalk you over the Internet? W.H.O.A. (Working to Halt Online Abuse) reports they get about 95 requests for help each week due to true online harassment. For information on preventing and dealing with cyberstalking, see the Working to Halt Online Abuse Web site.

Help Lines

National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE
The National Center for Victims of Crime (800) FYI-CALL
Emergency Police 911

Copyright © 1999 - 2002 Planned Parenthood ® Federation of America. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from www.teenwire.com

 

 

 

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