What is stalking and what to do if you’re experiencing it
Stalking can happen to anyone, by anyone.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust defines it as ‘a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.’
Often, stalking can evoke images of those who are obsessed with celebrities, or creepy strangers lurking in dark alleyways, however, people who experience stalking often know the person who’s doing it and the signs might not always be obvious.
Examples of stalking could be, but are not limited to:
- Tracking your car and devices
- Consistently following you and/or spying/monitoring you
- Threats and continuing to make unwanted communication
- Damaging property
- Regulatory giving unwanted gifts
Examples of cyberstalking could be, but are not limited to:
- Liking every single one of your social media posts
- Commenting on social media pictures from a long time ago
- Creating fake profiles of you and/or hacking your accounts
- Tagging you constantly in photos
- Hacking into your accounts and restricting access
- Hacking into your smart devices
- Using location trackers to monitor and/or track you e.g. Snapchat maps
- Receiving direct threats via social media or emails.
How to be vigilant against cyberstalking
There’s several things you can do to prevent cyberstalking, and the following quick-fire tips apply to most social networks and online activity:
- avoid responding to private messages if you don’t know the sender;
- turn on a VPN when using the internet in public to protect your personal information;
- always install antivirus software and keep both it and your operating system up-to-date;
- use strong, unique passwords for each service and turn on two-factor authentication if it’s offered (this will force a ‘double’ log-in, usually by sending a code to your phone); and
- take time to become familiar with social media privacy settings and tune them to your advantage.
Lastly, always think twice before you upload something to social media, be it a photo, video, link or status update. Remember – you don’t have to share everything.
What to do if you think you’re being stalked
Often stalking is made up of multiple incidents which can make it difficult for the police and the victim to deal with. However, by building up a bigger picture, it can help the police with their investigations. Always remember to:
- Keep a diary of incidents
- Keep copies of any letters, emails, direct messages etc
- Collect any evidence you can if it’s safe to do so
You can also report incidents to the police online at www.northants.police.uk or by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.
If you’re experiencing a crime, we’re here to help you whenever you’re ready.
Charlotte Gunn, Senior Service Delivery Manager with Voice said: “We have specialist advisors at Voice who are experienced in supporting victims of stalking. We listen to their experience, and understand the trauma and emotional impact of stalking. We can help them to stay safe by looking at the risks and supporting them to develop personal safety plans.”