When someone lovingly gives their partner a bouquet of roses, it’s a nice gesture. But if they repeatedly send a bouquet of roses with an intimidating note, it’s stalking.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Stalking involves multiple incidents where someone targets an individual victim. These incidents create fear for the victim’s safety and the safety of others. It is often a tactic a person who abuses will use to intimidate or harass their partner.
Stalking and Intimate Relationships
In an intimate relationship, stalking can be a way to control a current or former partner. Here are some examples:
Sue pulled up to her garage and there was a threatening message Sam spray painted on her garage door.
Talia felt a hard disk inside her daughter’s teddy bear. When she fished it out, she realized it was a tracking device. Only her ex-husband could have put that in there to monitor their whereabouts.
Adam keeps getting text messages during work from the person he just started seeing. It feels like too much, too fast and he is very frightened.
Lucy’s mom just called. Ted, with whom she’s separated, has just threatened to hurt her mom if Lucy doesn’t bring the kids back.
Kyle has an Order of Protection, but his ex-girlfriend keeps following him in her car.
How to deal with a stalker
If you or a loved one are experiencing stalking, documentation is critical. Keep detailed notes of the time and place of each incident. This will help professionals that you work with (law enforcement, victim advocates, etc.) better understand what’s going on. It can also help you validate your own feelings, instead of trying to dismiss them.
Counseling can help you understand the situation and provide support. You may also want to make a safety plan in case things escalate. Stalking is serious and can be a red flag for other kinds of abuse. Trust your instincts and seek support.