When you hear the word “stalking,” different scenarios might come to mind: movies, a stranger hiding in the bushes with binoculars, celebrities, social media. Many times, we hear young adults say that they “Facebook stalked” someone, which simply means they looked through someone’s profile and photos for certain information. This is meant in a joking manner. But stalking is a scary and real thing; it happens more often to young adults, and is becoming easier with modern day technology. First, let’s define stalking.
Stalking is a repeated pattern of behavior that includes following, watching or harassing a specific person. It occurs over a period of time and could be defined as threatening behavior. And most importantly, stalking is a crime.
- Women are stalked at a rate two times higher than men.
- Over 85% of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, (many times it is a current or former intimate partner).
- In the U.S., 7.5 million people are stalked each year.
- Young adults ages 18-24 experience the highest rates of stalking.
So What Can You Do?
We want you to know that resources are available. If you feel like you’re being stalked:
- Document the incidents. Whether it’s happened twice or 20 times, jot them down and note the date, time, location and any other details that you remember.
- Contact your local police department or stalking unit to report it. Having documented proof of the stalking could assist you in receiving a protection order. A legal advocate will be available to help you through the court process.
- Notify a friend, family member, employer or any other organization that you are involved with.
- Contact a local agency, such as The Center for Family Safety and Healing, to get help in creating a personalized safety plan.
- If you feel you’re in immediate danger, call 911.
How Do You Get a Protection Order?
In Ohio, forms have to be filled out and submitted to the prosecutor’s office in the county courthouse. In Franklin County, go to the Columbus City Prosecutor’s Office: Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit.
- Download free personal safety apps to your smart phone – these can alert selected contacts when you are safe or when you feel you’re in danger.
- If you believe your stalker is tracking you by smart phone, go to your Privacy Settings and turn off Location Services. Location Services lists where you’ve been down to the date, address and arrival/departure times over the last 30-60 days.
- Reset your online account passwords every other month.
- Don’t post photos or videos to your social media accounts that show your exact location at that point in time.
- Columbus City Prosecutor’s Office: Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- National Center for Victims of Crime
The Stalking Resource Center
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Please help spread the word to your loved ones. Everyone deserves to feel safe. On social media, use hashtags #StalkingAwarenessMonth and #EndStalking.