Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Trigger Word: Stalking

Stalking is one of the scariest, and most prevalent, forms of harassment and intimidation. In fact, one in four women are stalked during the course of their lifetimes. As the victim of a stalker, you may lay in bed hoping that when you wake up he will have forgotten about you, hoping that he will move onto something more productive with his time, hoping that he will finally leave you alone. But stalkers usually just don’t decide to stop one day. Some stalkers don’t ever decide to stop on their own.

Being stalked by someone who was basically a complete stranger brought immense stress into my life. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find a way to put a stop to it. I let it go on for too long — a year to be exact. I saw all the red flags, but I made up excuses for not taking some kind of affirmative action to stop it. I should have done something when he got my number from a friend and then repeatedly texted me asking me to go on a date with him, even after I said no and stopped answering him. I should have done something when he insisted that since we had mutual friends on Facebook, I was obligated to give him a chance. I should have done something when after I blocked him from all social media he found me on LinkedIn and repeatedly viewed my profile. I should have done something when he told my friend (who had sincerely apologized for giving him my number in the first place) that if I reported him he would confront me in person.

After a few months, he graduated and I thought the repeated attempts to contact me were over and done with. I was relieved that I would never have to worry about seeing him around campus again. Toward the middle of the summer, however, I noticed that he was again repeatedly viewing my LinkedIn profile. I thought this was strange, but was not too concerned about it because I thought he was gone and out of my life.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. During the first few weeks of my sophomore year, I received fifteen calls from a blocked number. The first few calls didn’t worry me; I thought it was a telemarketer or something of the sort. But as the calls continued, I knew something wasn’t right. They began coming in at all hours of the day and night — sometimes at precise one hour intervals.

One night as I was watching a movie with my roommates, I received a call around 9 p.m which I answered. The caller hung up immediately. I received another call an hour later. The caller did not say anything and I warned him,“if you ever call me again I’m going to get the police to track your number.” Unsurprisingly, later that night I received another call. When I picked up the phone, a song  I did not recognize was playing on the other end. I had finally had enough.

I downloaded a paid software app on my phone that allows blocked numbers to be tracked if the call is declined. I then waited patiently for another call, and sure enough one came at around 11:30 p.m. I declined it, and a text from the software app was sent to my phone with the blocked caller’s name, number and address. The blocked caller was indeed my stalker. I was shocked at first. Although I guess I should have realized it was him, I could not understand why he was continuing to contact me after he had graduated and moved back home, and why he was calling me on a blocked number without saying anything. It was as if he kept calling to find out whether I was in class or in my room, or perhaps he was just calling to hear my voice. Both options made me shake.

Over the next few days the calls and the texts from the software indicating that those calls were from my stalker continued rolling in. I became more and more scared. Although I did not know him well, I had heard from others that he had done these types of things to girls before. Then, one of my friends told me that she had seen him on campus. He was still around. I started to became frightened every time I left my dorm, fearing that he might be waiting somewhere for me. At that point, I knew I had to do something.

I met with the victim services counselor at my school. I knew that a restraining order was an option, but I was afraid getting one would have negative consequences and only enrage my stalker further. The services counselor was extremely helpful and understood why I was afraid to get a restraining order. She created a safety plan for me and signed me up for self defense classes. She also explained to me several other options which she thought might get him to stop contacting me. I took her advice, and one of those options actually seems to have worked: my stalker has not contacted me since.

I still have a nagging feeling that this is not the end of it. I have since learned that my stalker has actually moved back to the area and is working near campus. Even though I don’t think about him as much as I did when I was receiving the calls, I am still somewhat nervous every single day. I don’t feel completely safe walking alone on campus, even though I carry mace. Thankfully, the victim services counselor at my school ensured that I have the opportunity to have a police escort. I have not taken advantage of that option yet because my roommates and friends have been extremely helpful in walking with me around campus when I am afraid. My victim services counselor, friends, and family have provided me with so much emotional support, and I will never be able to express how grateful I am for that.

I consider myself a very strong person. I am not afraid of many things, however, I had my doubts about sharing this story. A voice in the back of my head kept telling me that my stalker might see it and want revenge. But I know I cannot let him control my life and my decisions. Some of you may have had experiences with stalkers that involved threats of imminent physical violence, destruction of property, or something else much more serious and physically threatening than my experience. I can’t even imagine how scary and debilitating that must be. To those of you who have had experiences similar to mine, however, I understand how you feel. I know how scary it is to walk around campus in fear that you will run into him. I know you wish he would just stop. I know it’s not easy. None of us deserve to be treated like this.

There are a few takeaways from this story. If you are a student, utilize safety options at your school as I did. I was hesitant at first because I was afraid he would be notified, but most schools have a confidential counselor you can talk to. Tell your friends and family about what you are experiencing so they can be on alert when need be. Come up with a safe word so if you are cornered, you can text it to your roommates or family so they know you are in trouble. Keep an accurate log of every encounter with the stalker, and save all incriminating phone messages and texts. Take a self-defense class like I did. Or, contact the authorities and get a restraining order (stalking is a crime in all 50 states). And if you are in immediate danger, call 911. Don’t be ashamed to get professional mental health counseling. Statistics show that stalking victims suffer much higher levels of anxiety, insomnia and depression than the general population. Whatever you do, please do not suffer stalking alone.

I am a sophomore at The George Washington University majoring in political communication and double minoring in women's, gender, and sexuality studies, and public policy.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️