Do You Really Know if You're Being Stalked?

In honor of Netflix’s new hit show, You, I think it is a fine time to address the ever-growing threat to women’s safety: stalking. Due to dramatizations and the stigma attached to such a phrase, stalking usually holds a mental image of intense effort, constant following, and evil men with cameras ready to pounce. While this image can be a reality, more often than not, the signs are much subtler.

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So, how do you really know if you’re being stalked?

What do you think? Which of these do you believe are stalking behaviors?

  1. Person frequently asks specifics about you to other people, including professors, friends, colleagues, etc.

  2. Person makes repeated non-threatening contact through social media, texting, phone-calls, emails, or notes

  3. Person is insistent in gift giving, including small things like knick-knacks, notes, or flowers.

  4. Person is often around in your day to day activities, claiming coincidence as you frequently see them around

  5. Person often brings up that they’ve seen you around “saw you at the park the other day,” “saw you in the cafeteria.”

  6. Person will wait outside of your class or by your car.

  7. Person will make false reports to authorities, spread rumors, giving misinformation or secrets to friends, family, professors, or supervisors about you.

  8. Person will disparage messages or images on the web and discussion groups.

  9. Person will vandalize or destroy property, like schoolwork.

  10. As tensions escalate, person will engage in threatening behavior, such as aggressive mail, email, notes, text messages and/or phone calls.

  11. Person will break into your private property, such as your home, car, or social media outlets, leaving evidence or trying to defame

(Behaviors are taken from CU Boulder's OVA.)

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If you picked all of them as behaviors of stalking, then you are correct! The Office of Victim Assistance (or OVA for short) here at CU Boulder has outlined examples of stalking behavior, all listed above.

Dramatizations and ignorance of the effects of stalking shown in the media have lead to a skewed view that often bleeds into the victim's perception of the situation. Despite signs and warnings, many victims are reluctant to perceive what is occurring as genuinely threatening or worthy of alarm until the situation escalates out of control. This is often only heightened by others disbelief to perceive the lesser threatening of these signs as actually dangerous and not just “flattering” behavior. Make sure to pay attention to both yourself and your friends as these signs show up. Not every stalker is a madman ready to kill. But every stalker should be stopped.

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