Healthy relationships are built on fundamental tenants of respect, honesty, support and equality. The beginning of the year is a great time to check in on your interpersonal relationships with your friends, family and peers to set healthy boundaries. Recognizing and responding to unhealthy behaviors in your interpersonal relationships is critical to your emotional and relationship health. January marks National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to educate yourself and others about stalking.
Recognized as a crime in all 50 states, the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women defines stalking as “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.” In 2015, The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that nearly 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men were victims of stalking.
Stalking can be difficult to recognize, especially when the entertainment industry often romanticizes persistence in relationships as a form of flattery. The National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource center outlines the following behaviors of stalkers:
- Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or e-mails.
- Damage your home, car, or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records or on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
To learn more about stalking and other unhealthy relationship behaviors, visit the following resources:
- What to Do If You are Being Stalked, Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center
- Stalking Incident and Behavior Log, Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center
- A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Stalking Fact Sheet, The National Center for Victims of Crime (Stalking Resource Center)
- The Use of Technology to Stalk and the Workplace, The National Center for Victims of Crime (Stalking Resource Center)
- Safety Tips for Stalking Victims, WomensLaw.org
If you or someone you know needs help, utilize the following hotlines:
- National Center for Victims of Crime: 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)