Signs of Stalking 101

Signs of Stalking 101

By Karry Smardon, MHlth Comm, Social Worker and Recovery Coach

January was National Stalking Awareness Month, a call to action to educate, recognize, and respond to this unlawful, traumatic, and dangerous abuse. With a conference on Human Trafficking in New Hampshire coming up in March, Karry Smardon, Social Worker and Recovery Coach at Alice Peck Day, shares some insight about stalking, how it can escalate, and the available community resources.

What is stalking?

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear or emotional distress.

     Related article: APD Conference about Human Trafficking in NH

What types of tactics do stalkers use?

Most stalkers use technology and in-person tactics to watch, contact, threaten, sabotage, or otherwise frighten their victims. Common stalking tactics include unwanted calls/texts/emails/messages, showing up uninvited, spreading rumors, and being followed and watched. 

As fear is highly personal, so is stalking; stalkers often engage in behaviors that seem benevolent to outsiders but are terrifying in context. For example, many people would welcome an unexpected flower delivery, but when a victim has relocated to escape a stalker, that flower delivery can be a threatening message the offender has found them.

Who do stalkers target?

Most stalkers target people they know, and the majority of stalkers are partners or associates who often have intimate knowledge about the victim’s vulnerabilities and fears.

How common is stalking?

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) report, stalking impacts nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men in the United States.

Is stalking the first step to additional violence?

Stalking often meets with physical and sexual violence. Stalking increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by three times, and 1 in 5 stalkers use weapons to threaten or harm victims.

How does stalking impact a victim?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), survivors often struggle with anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression as an effect of their victimization, and many miss work and/or relocate.

Stalking can impact every aspect of someone’s life, yet many underestimate its danger and urgency. The majority of victims tell friends or family about their circumstances first, and how we respond influences whether they seek further help or not.

Who do I contact if I need help?

If you or someone you know is a victim of stalking behavior, contact:

  • WISE: 866-348-9473
  • Turning Points: (603) 543-0155
  • Safeline VT: 1-800-639-7233

Karry Smardon is a Social Worker and Recovery Coach at Alice Peck Day. She will be lending her expertise and support at APD’s Helping Humans: Human Trafficking in NH educational conference on Saturday, March 30. Learn more.