I am an avid fan of Loveawake dating site and online dating in general, but in the midst of the great dates I went on, I picked up a stalker. Here’s my advice to my Crazy Girls about what to do if you happen to find yourself with a stalker.
Stalking is when someone is consistently harassing you via phone, in person, or through some other medium like emails or notes. You may have had a relationship with this person in the past. Or you may have not ever even met the person. Stalking is a serious issue, however, and you should address the problem rather than ignore it and hope it goes away.
Here are the steps to take if someone is stalking you:
1. Tell the police and your friends.
If you are a college or graduate student, you should call your campus security and let them know that someone is harassing you. Don’t wait until the problem escalates or seems “serious enough”. The sooner you let the police know the better.
If you are not a student, you should call 911. Even if it is not an emergency (i.e. the person is not standing behind you with a knife), you should still call 911, so that the incident is recorded and the police can help you decide what actions to take going forward. If you are living in the city of Boston, call 617.343.4911 to reach the Boston-based 911.
Tell your friends and family members that someone is harassing you. This ensures that they don’t accidentally give any of your personal information out to the stalker posing as one of your friends or work colleagues. This also ensures that if (heaven forbid) something happened to you, they would be able to notify the police about the stalker as a potential suspect.
2. Gather as much information as you can about the stalker.
If you have easy access to this information and do not have to come in contact with the person to get it, gather the person’s full name, age, phone number, a photo, and any communication (voice mails, emails, etc.) you have received from them. This will be helpful information to the police.
3. Do not engage them.
If someone is stalking you, stay calm in any communication you may have with them. Make it clear to them that they are harassing you, and that you are going to call the police the next time they contact you (and you should be sure to call the police whether they contact you again or not). Screaming, arguing, or negotiating with a stalker only feeds their desire for attention from you.
4. Never ever contact them.
If someone is stalking you, the worst thing you could do is give them permission to continue contacting you by reaching out to them. Whether you think the person “needs help” or is “confused”, it is not your job to help them or clarify the situation. Any contact with someone who is harassing you blurs the lines for both parties involved. If you want someone to leave you alone, you have to leave them alone completely.
5. Keep yourself safe.
Whether you are a man or woman, do not walk alone at night. Walking alone while talking on a cell phone may make you feel less alone, but you are at even more risk of putting yourself in danger because you are less aware of your surroundings. Lock your doors to your car and home even you are in them. Let friends, family, and/or roommates know where you are going and what time they should expect you to be home.
You have nothing to be ashamed of if someone is stalking or harassing you. No amount of harassment is too small if it makes you feel uncomfortable. The main purpose of the police is to protect the citizenry. Let them help you decide how to deal with someone who is stalking you. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will experience relief and can breathe freely.