I asked my friend Harper Dillard, a senior at Whitney Young, what she thought stalking was. She responded, “I don’t know. When someone is following you and knows everything about your life.” She wasn’t wrong, but something about her response was hesitant and made it seem like it was a weird thing to be talking about. So, why don’t we ever talk about stalking as a problem to be aware of in our daily lives? It seems like I only ever hear about it when someone is joking about a random person that’s always in the IG comments or from a fed-up celebrity, but we never hear about stalking as a crime or things to look out for and report. This is why President Barack Obama declared January as National Stalking Awareness Month back in 2013. This month is supposed to start conversations about the dangers of stalking and address new forms like cyberstalking that pop up as technology influences our daily lives.
Stalking gets real, really real. It’s clearly a problem when someone is following you around all the time and popping up wherever you are. I didn’t even know that stalkers tend to vandalize property or that they may hire private investigators. Some other common signs of a stalker are unsolicited phone calls and texts, unwanted cards and gifts, hacked social media accounts, and threats claiming to hurt you and your family. According to The Bexar County Family Justice Center, 31 percent of women that were victims of stalking were also sexually assaulted while 81 percent of women were also physically assaulted. Stalking can lead to someone getting seriously hurt and losing all of their privacy, so it should be something that is taken seriously and talked about seriously. Start the conversation about the dangers of stalking and how to point out if you or a loved one is a victim.
If you or someone you know is a victim of stalking and are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are unsure about your situation, contact the VictimConnect Hotline, 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846), to talk confidentially with someone for advice and referrals. Stalking is real, let’s start talking about it.
Know The Signs of a Stalker
- Repeatedly call and text you, including hang-ups
- Follow you and show up wherever you are
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails
- Damage your home, car, or other property
- Monitor our phone calls, computer use, or social network account
- Hack into your social networking accounts (Facebook) or email
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go
- Drive by or hang out at your apartment/residence hall, outside your classroom or at your work
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets
- Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring private investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting your friends, classmates, family, neighbors, or co-workers
- Other actions that control or frighten you
Source: University of New Hampshire
*This article is made possible by the support of Chicago Dating Matters Initiative. #DatingMattersChi
By Kyla Hubbard, Senior, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School