STALKING in the U.S.; Pandemic of Epic Porportions

Part One in a Thirteen Part Series

STALKING is roughly defined (in California) as one person making another person feel unsafe or uncomfortable in their own surroundings. This broadly expanded definition is a major improvement over the one in place years ago when I was dealing with a deranged ex-. In the 1990's the definition of stalking was narrowly defined as serious bodily harm in front of credible witnesses.

STALKING can range from MILD to SEVERE. Mild stalking might include someone following you in their car, hovering around you at your workplace, always parking next to you in the parking lot, or just paying obvious, intrusive and unwanted attention to you. It might be a neighbor is always around when you go outside, a friend's husband who seems to "coincidentally" run into you around town, or an ex- that takes up jogging at the same park you do. If you have noticed someone being just too, too attentive and the hair on the back of your neck stands up because something just isn't "right" you are being stalked.

At the other end of the spectrum STALKING can be SEVERE. The threat of being kidnapped, raped, maimed or killed is very real. Or having something similar happen to any of your loved ones, spouse, children or pets. SEVERE STALKING needs to be * reported to the appropriate authorities immediately. * No if's and's or but's. *

STALKING is abuse. STALKING is a violation of boundaries. STALKING can cause long-term physical, emotional and financial damage. STALKING is serious business and can get out of hand quickly.

13-Part STALKING Series Prompted by Comments and Emails

Recently I wrote a Hub: http://hubpages.com/hub/Promotion-vs-Privacy-A-Personal-and-Professional-Predicament

I wrote it to alert/warn some of our newer/younger Hubbers who might not be fully aware of the very real dangers caused by exposing too much information about themselves over the Internet. (And once the information is out there, it can't be taken back!)

Quickly the Comments in my Promotion vs. Privacy Hub turned to the subject of STALKING. With the advent of the Internet, STALKING has become easier, faster and more dangerous. I was shocked by the immediate response. About a dozen of us opted to continue the sensitive nature of our correspondence in private, encrypted emails.

I had been working on a series of Hubs about STALKING (possible causes, how to stay safe, the resources available to victims, etc.) to be published after the New Year. In the meantime I was concentrating on Hubs that brought peace and joy and smiles to Holiday Angel faces. Prayers. Poems. Jokes. Recipes. Feel Good Stories.

Again, "Life happens when we are making plans."I hadn't considered publishing this Thirteen Part Series of Hubs quite this soon. But it became painfully clear that the BEST Holiday Gift I could share with fellow Hubbers is validation and resources for protecting their own lives.

I write from experience. Terrifying, earth-shaking, life-threatening STALKING. Not the "I love you babe and want you back" misguided clumsy inappropriate annoying attempts at proof of passion and reconciliation. I am writing about the "If I can't have you, no one can -- the only way I can ensure that is for you to be dead" unending, ever-present, crazy-making, PTSD-causing, severe threat to life, limb and loved ones.

Much to my dismay, STALKING in the U.S. has become much more prevasive in the last decade. And even worse, women are feeling even MORE isolated.

I just didn't want another day to go by (in this Season of Love and Joy) with the possibility that someone out there is currently being threatened and is also feeling hopeless and alone.

You are not alone. And there are more resources available than you might ever have imagined.

Violence Against Women

90% of stalking is by men against women. I don't want to dismiss the horrible affects that can happen when the roles are reversed (another Hub). For now, however I am writing about the majority of stalking cases in the U.S.

Women are especially susceptible to stalking, harassment, intimidation and violence for obvious reasons:

1. Women are not (usually) as physically strong as the men who stalk them;

2. Women who are pregnant are even more vulnerable (for 2-3 years per child they have);

3. Women are more likely to have self-esteem rooted in the success (or failure) of their relationships;

4. Women are less likely to report stalking because they feel they are somehow to blame;

5. Women are less likely to report stalking because they fear matters will only get worse;

6. Women often dismiss or excuse inappropriate behavior because they tend to want to avoid conflict;

7. Women, when they turn to men friends and loved ones for help, are often dismissed and told not to worry about it;

8. The out-dated but still used definition of abuse includes and is limited to physical harm only;

9. Stalking often starts as flattering attention before turning ugly;

10. Women (young girls) are often taught to substitute someone else's judgement (especially authority figures) for their own;

11. Women are more likely to let a stalker know they are frightened thereby giving a stalker more momentum to continue;

12. Women do not want to "burden" anyone else;

13. Women do not want to be seen as "hysterical," "over reactive," or in "need of constant attention and reinforcement."

14. Women too easily dismiss their own intuition.

Not Your Average Run-of-the-Mill Following Someone

I also want to make clear that this series of Hubs is not aimed at your average, run of the mill, disgruntled ex- boyfriend (or girlfriend) driving by your house once or twice situation. Although unsettling, this usually passes without incident. Experts advise ignoring this behavior as the fastest way to discourage its continuation.

This series of Hubs is not for women (or men) who, for whatever reason, fake or exaggerate being followed/pursued by an ex- to make their current love jealous and/or to motivate them to sit up and take notice.

This series of Hubs is not for women (or men) who, for whatever reason, thrive on the drama-factor and need constant attention, even negative, to feel loved.

This series of Hubs is for women (and in later Hubs, men) whose lives have been turned upside down by the ongoing threat from another person. Women who can't eat, can't sleep and can't make a move without worrying out the consequences of simple actions. Women who literally take their lives into their own hands just by showing up for work, visiting the dentist, or picking their kids up from daycare. Women who will suffer the damage of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder long after their stalker gives up or is incarcerated.

Reasons for the Increase in Stalking in the U.S.

The U.S. is a violent country compared to the rest of the civilized world;

The U.S. Administration has determined "War and Invasion" is a legitimate tool for conflict resolution;

The U.S. entertainment media is full of violence of all kinds, especially against women;

In the past, Stalking was harder to prove and prosecute;

Stalking is abuse. Stalking is violence. Even if there is no physical contact.

Why do Stalkers Stalk?

Because they can. And most of the time they get away with it.

Sometimes STALKERSdon't even realize they are doing anything wrong. They falsely assume the woman should be flattered by their constant attention. They rationalize they haven't "harmed a single hair." That is incorrect. Violating a person's boundaries harms the soul. Shattering the foundation of a person's belief system regarding safety lasts for decades. The finances required to protect, prosecute and many times relocate force many victims into bankruptcy.

Most of the time STALKERS are people we know. Or have known. Often intimately. In the U.S. there is an "assumption of ownership." We speak in possessive terms like, my spouse, my children, my home. This assumption is a misnomer; we don't own anyone. Unfortunately, STALKERS often feel they have "rights" that have been wronged.

STALKING is not about Love. It is not romantic. It is not about concern.

STALKING is not about the person being stalked. It is ALL about the Stalker.

STALKING is about CONTROL. It is a highly narcissitic activity by people who are insecure about themselves and have no courage of character. STALKING is seen as an option ONLY to those without a well developed set of Life Skills for resolving conflict/differences.

Remedies to Mild Stalking

First, a cell phone with photo taking capabilities is a woman's best friend. The photo doesn't have to be crystal clear. A photo can be enhanced by professionals even if taken from a far, or from your car, or out your windows and is proof enough. A photo will also automatically date and time stamp itself. DO NOT go anywhere without it. (I don't even walk my dog in my own front yard without it!)

If the Stalking falls into the MILD category a firm direct clear demand to the offender should suffice. "I do not want you to come within 10/20/100/500 feet of me anymore. I am sorry if this hurts your feelings. For some reason you make me feel uncomfortable and I am not willing to feel that way anymore." That usually works the first time. If not, try again and add, "I have asked you once to stay away from me. If you come around me again I will report you to security/police/boss/human resources." Be prepared for the offender to be shocked and "have no idea" of what you are talking about. Stand your ground. Be consistent. (And once Mr. Friendly starts behaving himself, please do not invite him to be your buddy and make nice.)

Note: If your boss or superior is the one making you feel uncomfortable, it also falls into the Harassment category. (Another Hub) You have even more rights.

If Stalking is in the SEVERE category, an immediate police report is in order. I know this sounds extreme to many women who feel they "have no proof" but it is imperative. Few days goes by that the news doesn't report a missing woman, found dead later.

Note: * If you are in a SEVERE situation right now, and/or your stalker is part of law enforcement (mine was) the remedies are a little more complicated. BUT THERE ARE REMEDIES. Contact me through Hub Pages directly.

Let Me Be Clear

STALKING of any kind is unacceptable. Period. It is also illegal in most states and developed countries. (The California program is being adopted by most other states in 2007-2008.)

There are ZERO circumstances where STALKING is acceptable. Spouses spying on spouses, furious ex-'s, suspected thieves, etc. ZERO REASONS to STALK SOMEONE. There are other ways to handle each.

If you see yourself in any of the above circumstances, get help. NOW. It is better to act early and deescalate the circumstances than let it get out of hand and need federal protection. Or worse.

If you see yourself DOING any of the above, even inadvertently, STOP IT IMMEDIATELY.

Thirteen Hubs in this Series on STALKING

STALKING, Harrassement, Intimidation, Abuse: The Similarities and Differences

STALKING: The Law, Restraining Orders, Effective Resources and the Underground Movement

STALKING: Women Stalking Men; A Different Strategy

STALKING: Financial, Whistle Blowing, Retaliation, Other Reasons

STALKING: A Comprehensive Game Plan for Safety

STALKING and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

STALKING: Forensic Psychology, Talking Therapies, Journaling

STALKING: Understanding a Stalker's Mind, Motivation and (version of) Logic Can Save Your Life

When the STALKER is the Father (or Mother) of Your Children

When the STALKER has Special Armed Forces Training

Women Stalking Women, Men Stalking Men, Gay or Straight

Stalked and Lived to Tell It: A Silver Lining

More by this Author


Comments 32 comments

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 4 years ago Author

Dearest TJenkins602,

I am so sorry you have had this experience . . . It really is hard for people who have never been stalked to even phathom what it's like . . . Hopefully you are correct and that he has moved on . . . Always keep you eyes open . . .

A person so inclined as to stalk someone, can at any time have renewed and unexpected interest, not because you have done anything, but because he is on new meds, street drugs, steroids ~ a thousand different things having nothing to do with you . . .

One time, a dear friend, twenty years older than myself, began taking some kind of prescription and it made him convinced I was his mother ~ Who had died two years earlier . . .

He would call me and follow me all hours of the day and night ~ One time he tried to kill himself because he was so besought that his "mother" kept rejecting him . . . Then he said he would kill her/me instead . . . He was put in the hospital . . . And made a full recovery . . .

Just always keep your eyes open . . . Thank you for sharing . . . My warmest regards are with you . . . Blessings, Earth Angel . . .


TJenkins602 profile image

TJenkins602 4 years ago

I wholeheartedly agree with you Serena Gabriel. I have never put up any picture of me on the Internet because I always felt that it was a dangerous thing to do. However, stalking wasn't on my mind at the point, I have had problems with people in my past. I don't want them to know that I'm still alive if they don't.

I personally have dealt with a stalker recently. My first reaction was "WTF?!" Then I had a little anxiety and dread over possible intentions and what was going to happen next.

He's seemed to have backed off. I didn't tell him to "back off." I guess he could read some kind of ever growing irritation in my whole demeanor in every reaction. (He must have been intelligent enough to read people, he just tried his best to play dumb. He had to have seen me as weak when he first met me.)


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago Author

Dearest "Serena Gabriel"

Thank you so much dear one for posting your comment above! Yes, yes, yes it is a huge problem! I am so sorry that you have had to go through so much clean-up! And uncertainty! (That is one of the words I use other than "fear")

Although maybe fear is not such a bad word to use! At the time, I was scared out of my wits! Almost!

None of us makes good, sound decisions until we can get our anxiety down to a manageable level! It took every ounce within me to stay one step ahead of him! For over 3 years!

Again, I am so deeply sorry you are having to go through this! Please write a Hub on it! And please feel free to contact me directly if you need private suggestions!

Blessings for your sanity and your safety! Earth Angel!


Serena Gabriel 5 years ago

Good hub! You are right it truly is an epidemic. I think people who haven't had the problem don't know how bad or widespread it really is. It's not something that's easy to talk about because people like to think you did something to cause it.

I just had to pull my web sites down, do an on-line clean up on my name and professional pics because of some weirdo who seems to have been trying to find out where I live from my professional web site. It's been a big mess. I've had to open new accounts for everything - including here at HubPages after realizing how vulnerable I made myself. So, I've been running around warning women not to put their professional photos (or personal photos or children's photos, of course) ANYWHERE online. And, don't use your real name for anything. Don't trust any of the social networking sites. Do frequent searches on your name. Data and images are getting stolen online like crazy. Crime is soaring and for some reason, it's the season for sex perverts and other criminals because I had a triple punch of lunacy a couple of months ago, which is what prompted me to do that.

Establish several monikers - even consider using them socially to avoid weirdos looking you up online after you've just been innocently introduced or forced to show them your I.D or something like that.

This is a huge, huge problem!


dutch84 profile image

dutch84 8 years ago

This is a very creative and relevant piece.

I LOVE IT!!!


chicgurl profile image

chicgurl 8 years ago

Really great info. I enjoy your writing style! It flows so well. Thank you for such a wealth of knowledge!


Confidential Access 8 years ago


tom 8 years ago

cool


Ms Chievous profile image

Ms Chievous 8 years ago from Wv

Wow I wish I had found this information when my ex husband's stalking was in the as you say "severe stage" A lot of your commenter state the laws have changed about stalking but not in West Virginia. I found it very difficult to get support at the local levels. Law enforcement doesn't seem to take domestic situations seriously probably because they deal with it all the time. I have been told it take eight years of documentation to prove stalking. The only way I felt I could control the situation was to actually blog about my expeiriences. I have a hubpage that I have been adding to as sort of a diary of my ex's abusive nature. So thanks for this information I will be reading your other stuff when time allows...


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Greetings DedicatedMe!! Thank you for the wonderful comments!! I am delighted that you learned at such an early age to trust that gut feeling!! And yes, the laws have changed dramatically for the better!! We still have a long way to go in the education of people who think stalking is a form of flattery: NOT!! Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


DedicatedMe profile image

DedicatedMe 8 years ago from Florida

Thanks for sharing this story on stalking. That creepy "hair on your neck feeling" I got as one day I went to the fair, and I was on a Ferris Wheel with my friend...out of nowhere, I saw him on the ground looking up at me while I was circling around on the Ferris Wheel. I think I almost peed my pants. That was about 15 years ago. The laws have certainly changed, thank goodness!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Gee, that sounds really scary. Thanks for putting up this hub. We all need to know about this and if one is in the situation realize the importance of getting help immediately. God bless you.


Iðunn 8 years ago

Congratulations! What truly excellent news! :)

I look forward to reading your hub on it and if I can work it into my budget I'd be honored to put your work in my growing collection of poetry books.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thanks Idunn!!

Hope all is well with you!!

I am glad to be back!! My Internet connection was down for over two weeks!! When it finally came back on, I had 1,000 new emails before it quit taking any more!!

In the meantime, I was able to release a new book of poetry for pre-sale just this last Sunday!! I have been working on it full time for six months!! "Sirens of Circumstance" by J.S. Allen!! I will announce it in a new Hub within the next couple of days!! It launched with a HUGE bang and I have been trying to keep my head above water with all the pre-orders!!

Thanks again for checking in!! Glad to be back!!

Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


Iðunn 8 years ago

Glad to see you back, I was wondering where you'd been and I missed seeing your name in the Hubtivity.

Exellent hub. Well done. You said this:

"Let Me Be Clear

STALKING of any kind is unacceptable. Period. It is also illegal in most states and developed countries. (The California program is being adopted by most other states in 2007-2008.)

There are ZERO circumstances where STALKING is acceptable. Spouses spying on spouses, furious ex-'s, suspected thieves, etc. ZERO REASONS to STALK SOMEONE. There are other ways to handle each.

If you see yourself in any of the above circumstances, get help. NOW."

Exactly! Just exactly! Definitely a thumbs up from me.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you so much GamerGirl!! For the comment and the compliment!!

My computer has been down for over 2 weeks so I apologize for the delay in responding!!

Yes, we all need to take quite seriously the personal information we put out there into the ethers!!

Blessings to you and your cyber-safety!! Earth Angel!!


gamergirl profile image

gamergirl 8 years ago from Antioch, TN

EA, I just found this hub and wanted to tell you that it is simply vital. Thank you for writing it, and thank you for being such a strong and positive person!


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 8 years ago

God.. stalking.. what a creepy thing.. may no one ever have to go through it..


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you Kenny Shariff!! I am just amazed and dismayed and hopeful and thankful that so many women have gotten in touch with me behind the scenes!! I am glad that India does not have the stalking problem we have here in the U.S.!! Is a "romantic stalker" different in India than in the U.S.?? They sure are dangerous here, too!! Thank you for your supportive comments always!! Earth Angel!!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you RFox for the comments and sharing your story!! I am so glad you knew right away that something just wasn't "right" about your neighbor!! I too know a bit about defending myself having studied street fighting and model mugging!! Alas, my stalker was more of the shoot from his car and speed off kind!! I will pray you never run into that neighbor again!! Thank you for sharing!! Every person who speaks up gives confidence to those who have remained silent too long!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!


RFox profile image

RFox 8 years ago

This is a great series to write about. It is unfortunate that you had to experience the stalking first hand. I too had problems with a neighbour in my apartment building. I knew from the beginning he was not someone I wished to know but living so close I could not avoid him. He started with the notes on the door and bumping into me etc. I stood my ground and was firm about telling him that I wanted nothing to do with him but I never felt safe. He was known to be violent to others and so I had to walk a fine line to protect myself. Luckily I was able to move away for awhile and live somewhere else. By the time I returned to my building he was gone. As I say, I was LUCKY. I do know how to defend myself but I really don't want to be in that position. Hopefully I will never run into him again. Thank you for bringing to light such a difficult subject.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai

Blessings on you, too, Earth Angel! You are a survivor who's teaching others who have the problem and how not to have the problem. It's not so severe in India yet, except the romantic stalkers, who can be real dangerous!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Dear Precious AskSusanPeters, Thank you sooooooooooo much for the kind words!!! You captured it in a nutshell!! Merry Christmas Special Angel!! Merry Christmas to all!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Blessings to you Gabriella05 for the heartfelt comments!!

It took me years but yes, I do stand tall and feel like a winner!!

My "little-minded" stalker was a 6'8" part-time body builder who weighed in at 267 pounds!! Quite an imposing and intimidating figure next to my 5'3" 120 pound frame!!

He may have had it on me physically, but I could stay one step ahead of him mentally!! Plus, I knew the Angels were on my side!!

Thank you again for your wonderful comments!! They are appreciated from the bottom of my heart!!

Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you Brandy Owens!!

Thank you for sharing!!

I am sorry your neighbor bothers you with their nosey intrusion!! Never take it lightly!!

It is one thing for a neighborhood, like the one I am blessed to live in, to watch out for each other and report on anything suspicious!! And certainly, there are people in the world that are just bored and do not even know their overt behavior is annoying!!

Again, if something is making you angry, it must be going beyond that point!!

There are people who are not quite fully stable, mentally or emotionally, and can snap on a neighbor who has done nothing to provoke them!! It could just be that you remind your neighbor of someone from another time!!

Again, keep your eyes open, your doors locked and pay attention!!

Thank you again for sharing!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you again Compu-Smart!!

Yes, it was 24/7 for years and years!! And it was awful!!

I know what you mean about getting that awful feeling when you think someone is following you!!

Actually, the Papparazzi did play an indirect role!! At the time I was stalked I was fairly well known in my neck of the woods!! Which was GREAT for business!! Alas, the local media reported on where and when I was speaking, what awards I was receiving, how fast the company I founded was growing, who and where I was dining, and where I was volunteering!! All of that had to stop!!

I am so glad it is mostly behind me now!!

If I can help others avoid similar circumstances, I will feel the Divine is using me for good!!

Thanks again Compu-Smart!!

Blessings to you that "stalking" may never touch your life!

Earth Angel!!


AskSusanPeters profile image

AskSusanPeters 8 years ago from Oklahoma

A Christmas present to all!

Thanks, Earth Angel

Susan


gabriella05 profile image

gabriella05 8 years ago from Oldham

Earth angel just remember that you are a strong person and it shoos in the way that you can talk about, that makes you a winner and thus sad, little minded people that goes around doing things like that, are a looser. So stand strait and teal the world that you are the winner a hundreds time over


Brandy Owens profile image

Brandy Owens 8 years ago from Wherever life takes me

Thank you! This is very important information, and I had no idea that something mild could be considered stalking. All I know is that my neighbor routinely makes me angry and uncomfortable by monitoring our comings and goings. I'll definitely read your other hubs on stalking as they present themselves.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Your welcome:) Even i get worried when i think i am being followed! even for a moment!! and to have this happen to you 24-7 would be a nightmare!! The Paparazzi are practiaclly legal stalkers just by having a camera hanging around their neck and think tighter laws should be imposed on the press!!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you sooooooooooooo much Compu-Smart!! I sooooooooooo appreciate your positive comments and compliments!! Thank you for sharing!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

I LOVE this Hub. Important info. i LOVE the way you write and EXPRESS yourself with your words. BIG THUMBS UP:)

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