Did You Know This Crime Is A Class 4 Felony In Illinois?
It's National Stalking Awareness Month in America and it happens more often than we think. Let's talk about it.
Living in a digital-focused society can be extremely beneficial reconnecting with family and friends who live far away, but it can also lead to very scary situations you never thought you would ever encounter, like stalking.
Yes, stalking comes in many different forms. From following you in real life to watching your every post behind a computer screen, there are so many ways someone can follow your entire day-to-day life without you even knowing.
"Stalking is more than just going through the statuses or photos of a person. It is following them around to discover every intimate detail about the life of the victim. Stalking includes phone calls, obsessive text messages, notes left on cars, creepy gifts, or messages on social media platforms." [NationalToday]
Sadly, I'm a victim of stalking. It sucks and strips away your independence.
Being very public online, as a digital creator, means you are bound to receive weird messages from people, but sometimes it escalates even further than that.
Back in November, I received a text from a phone number I didn't recognize. The person refused to tell me who they were, but kept sending me intimate details about my life, including my exact address.
Every thought goes through your head on who it could be:
Was it someone I knew?
Was this person actually watching/following me from a distance?
How long have they been monitoring me?
Am I in danger and should I contact the police?
When will I be able to sleep again?
After blocking the number, they made new numbers to call, text, and harass me.
Realizing it wasn't a friend playing a sick joke on me, I went completely incognito for over a month until it blew over. Eventually it all stopped, but that doesn't mean my paranoia went away. It probably never will.
If you feel that you're being stalked by someone you know or a complete stranger, here are some signs to look out for.
- Repeated calls, text messages, e-mails, or posts via social media
- Following the victim or showing up where they are (e.g., near home, work, school, or other places the victim might frequent)
- Using technology to track, find out and/or disseminate personal information about the victim
- Threatening to hurt the victim and/or people they care about
Stalking is a Class 4 Felony in Illinois and even though most stalkers are ex-partners or acquaintances, it can lead to very serious encounters overtime... like murder. Terrifying.
Related Story: Creepy Man With “Stiff One” Lurking Around Illinois Stores
I found out that 3.4 million people are stalked each year in the US. 15% of women and 6% of men have experienced some sort of stalking in their lifetime. Young people are at a higher risk of being stalked; 50% of women survivors and over 30% of men survivors were first stalked before the age of 25. [SafeHorizon]
Don't hesitate reporting any suspicious behavior to your local police department. Don't feel embarrassed or that you're wasting their time, you're not!
Be vigilant, change up your schedule, and stay safe in this world. Your safety is a high priority and your life matters. Read all about National Stalking Awareness Month here.