An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Commentaries : Display
NEWS | Jan. 8, 2009

Stalking is not classy

By Julie Couture Family Advocacy

Most people don't think that they could be stalked, but over 1 million people each year report being victims of this crime. January 2009 marks the sixth consecutive year that National Stalking Awareness Month is observed.

In the beginning of a relationship, it's normal to want to spend your waking hours talking, texting and spending time with your new special someone. However, it isn't so normal when he or she treats you in a not so special way by constantly texting you, leaving multiple voicemails, or electronically tracking your location so they can know your whereabouts at all times.

In the past, stalking was pretty obvious - stalkers would physically follow their prey and check on them to make sure they were where they said they were going to be. Phones were also used to verify a person's whereabouts. In extreme situations, stalkers would employ the use of their friends

Today stalking has gone high tech. Many people are constantly connected via their personal digital assistant or phones. In addition to physically stalking, people now have a choice and can either go on the move or do it from the comfort of their own home or office. People use text messages, voicemail, instant messaging, and e-mail to keep tabs. If there isn't a response, the volume of messages can be enough to shut down the system.

Stalking is a form of emotional abuse as it is a way to have control over someone without physically hurting them. With the increase in communication devices being used in stalking, other forms of emotional abuse also increase. 

The first text message might seem kind or nonchalant in nature, asking where you are or what you're up to. The first text is followed up with 10 more messages - odds are good that the 10th message won't be so endearing and concerning. It's more likely that the person who was naively checking on you becomes obsessed and now must know where you are, and more importantly, why you are not responding. In their minds, the reasons you are not responding rarely consist of things such as sickness, meetings, or the need for quiet time. Instead, there can be accusations, name calling, and threats. 

This can not only be frustrating to the recipient of the texts or IM's, but frightening. After all, this is a person you care about - and someone you thought cared about you.

Extreme cases involve the use of global positioning devices, Spyware, and other surveillance devices. Even though the person isn't physically following you, all stalking methods are illegal. If you feel that you are being stalked, keep records of texts, e-mails, and voicemails, even if it is painful to look or listen to them. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if someone is stalking you, as other people contact you throughout the day.

Check your stalker knowledge with the questions below by answering true or false:

- Three of four women murdered by their intimate partner were stalked by them.
- 13 percent of stalkers are women.
- Nearly one in four stalking victims is male.
- Stalkers may increase their stalking behavior if you ignore them.

The answer to all of them is true. Go with your gut. If you feel that someone is constantly keeping tabs on you, conveniently showing up at locations you're at, even though you never told him or her of your plans, or harassing you, contact the police. Active duty can contact Family Advocacy at 764-2427 for counseling services.

For more information, go to