WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING STALKED
By Vanessa Anglade
In this piece, Vanessa highlights why stalking someone is wrong and also takes us through the steps you can take if you think someone is stalking you.
Wetin dey Shuga Naija fam?! So much has happened in the last few episodes, and we have so much to unpack! Let’s talk about Faa and Angel, did anyone else get a strange feeling after watching their first meeting in person? Is Angel overstepping boundaries or is he just an overzealous fan?
Being stalked is a frightening experience that leaves the victimized person feeling terrorized and powerless.
Stalking is unwanted or repeated surveillance by an individual or group toward another person. These behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and can vary from following the victim in person or monitoring them remotely by proxy or technological means. Usually, the victim knows the perpetrator.
Although stalking is illegal in most places, some actions that contribute to stalking may be legal, such as gathering information, calling someone on the phone, texting, sending gifts, emailing etc. When Faa initially makes contact with Angel he seems to be a generous admirer who she reluctantly turns to during times of financial strain. Over time, little by little, it becomes apparent that Angel sees himself as more than an admirer going as far as secretly procuring her new home address to send her gifts. When Faa asks Angel how he got her new address his response is evasive, simply referring to himself as a fan.
These actions become illegal when they breach the legal definition of harassment, often meaning when frequently repeated to an unwilling recipient.
Angels advances escalate and begin to frighten Faa when he sends her messages complimenting her outfit or commenting on the company she keeps in real time. She is aware that he can somehow see her, but she can’t see where he is watching from or how he knows these things about her, making Faa increasingly paranoid and uneasy. Through the episodes we see Faa searching for a safe place as soon as Angel contacts her and leaving her home incognito to avoid being identifiable.
If you think you are being stalked check out the following steps that you can take to stay safe and build a case against your stalker:
- Trust your instincts
If the situation feels unsettling, don’t write off your feeling as an overreaction. Victims of stalking are often pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalkers behaviour, or your fear of your stalkers behaviour- stalking poses a real threat, your safety is paramount, trust your instincts!
- Ceasing communication
Stalkers revel in the belief that they have power over their victims. Reacting or even telling them to leave you alone gives them the satisfaction of having successfully received a response from you, regardless of whether it is a positive or negative response. It is best to avoid communicating with the stalker. Do not reply to text messages, phone calls, emails or social media comments. Take note of this unwanted contact in case you ever need to present evidence.
- Take threats seriously
You might know the person stalking you or convince yourself that they are harmless admirers. If the stalker has directly or indirectly threatened to harm you, believe them. Contact a friend or family member immediately and make plans to get to a safe place. Depending on the severity of the threat, it may be best to immediately contact law enforcement. Be sure to record and report all details of the threat once you are in a safe place.
- Keep a record
Keep a log of each contact with the stalker, document date and time, what transpired and follow up with law enforcement. Make sure to also document any police reports.
- Secure your devices
Stalkers often use technology to contact their victims. Save all emails, text messages, photos, and postings on social networking sites as evidence of the stalking behavior. You may also want to consider how to use your technology and your devices in a safer manner. For example, if your stalker had access to your phone or computer they may be bugged with spyware or GPS tracking devices. A specialist can help determine if your electronics have been compromised with spyware or you may have to replace them to be safe.
- Contact information
Change your email address and phone number. It is important to let close friends and family members know about what is going on so that they do not share your new contact details with anyone unless they have your permission. You should also consider changing your passwords for other online accounts including shopping, entertainment and online banking.
Being stalked can be a terribly frightening and isolating experience, one of the most important things you can do is to let people you trust know about the stalking. Sharing your concerns will help give you a much-needed network of support, these people will also be able to keep an eye out for you and help keep you safe. You may also want to inform people in protective roles at your school or work about what is happening for example a school principal or security company at work. Use photos or detailed description to help others identify your stalker, and let them know what they should do if they see the person for example “Please text me, so I can stay away” or “Please call the police if you see this person”.
Ask friends not to post any information about your whereabouts or post pictures of you – especially where the location is detailed. Consider more restrictive privacy settings on your social media accounts or deleting them altogether. Your stalker may be using your social media posts to track you down or learn about your day to day schedule. If you have the stalker as a contact block them from being able to access your accounts.
- Pursuing legal options
Your stalker may be breaking the law, or may have committed other crimes like damaging your property in pursuit of stalking you. Talk to the police about what you can do. They will open a file and advise you of the best precautions to take and the types of information you have that will be most helpful for them. Another option is to get a restraining order. If you can identify your stalker you can file for a restraining order, also known as an order or protection, against them. This option can be discussed with a law enforcement official.
It is a crime to stalk anyone and is punishable with imprisonment or a fine. It is important to talk to friends and family members and find the course of action that you feel most comfortable with.
Do not let a stalker intimidate you into becoming recluse and paranoid! You have every right to live your life without having to constantly look over your shoulder.