Regardless of how commonplace it is, stalking remains a criminal behaviour that is punishable by law. It compromises the victim’s sense of security and often degenerates into physical harm. A stalker is anyone who consistently willfully threatens the safety and peace of another person by contacting them against their will, following them and harassing them.
While most stalkers often have some history with the victims, perhaps as former love interests, partners, colleagues or neighbours; incidences of cyberstalking degenerating into physical attacks have become more popular and incessant.
Studies reveal that 75-80% of stalkers are men who range from dangerous sexual predators to obsessed discarded intimate partners in search of another chance at intimacy. As with most crimes, prevention remains the best way to prevent stalkers from finding your home.
How to reduce your chances of being stalked
● Share with care
It’s a social world, and sharing is fun, but you never know who is keeping tabs and what intentions they have. Be careful with sharing personal information such as addresses online or displaying pictures and updates that make it easy for people to decipher your residence or routine.
● Find a safe place for pick up/drop off
While it may be quite convenient, having delivery people and taxis pick up or drop off things or people at your actual doorstep may be akin to opening your doors to danger. It is always wiser to find a neutral location that is close enough for you but too populated to be narrowed down to you.
● Switch up your routine
A perpetually consistent routine makes it easy for anyone who is watching to find you. If they know where you will be every hour of the day, planning their attack becomes easier. While certain things like your resumption time at work may be fixed, changing your routes, ensemble, lunch spot and other details might contribute to making you more difficult to target.
● Change passwords frequently
Passwords should be protected, be it the access code to your condo, your social media passwords or computer passwords. Complex passwords can be the redeeming factor when cyber stalkers attempt to penetrate your security system. Changing your passwords often means that even if your password has been compromised, you have a chance to throw off your assailant.
● Improve your security
A well-secured door might not be enough, especially if you are concerned that intruders may be targeting you. Consider introducing simple technology fixes that can improve your security. Small details like a surveillance camera or access control system could make a world of difference.
If you suspect that you are a stalker’s target, do not wish it away or become paranoid. A few strategic and informed steps could nip the situation in the bud and return your sense of safety.
● Create a safety plan
It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Little things like emergency numbers to call if the situation goes out of hands or informing someone close enough to check on you periodically can ensure that you are less likely to fall, the victim if a stalker becomes bold enough to attack.
● Alert security agencies
Raising a false alarm is much better than dying in silence. Inform your condo security personnel of your concerns or even get a restraining order. It is always safer to be many steps ahead.
● Change your location
If you are beginning to lose sleep and your mental health is being compromised, it might be time to change your location. You can consider a temporary relocation to somewhere where you would be surrounded by trusted people or, in extreme cases, find another condo on a different side of town.
As much as possible, do not keep such suspicions to yourself. Speaking up about observations and fears has saved many lives and could save yours as well. Be very observant of your environment and refuse to discard cues. If it doesn’t feel right, it just may be wrong. It’s better to be wrong than to be a victim.