Signs that you have a stalker and how to deal with them

We all love the attention. But when it's unwanted, it's time to draw boundaries.

05 June, 2024
Signs that you have a stalker and how to deal with them

Once may be a chance meeting, twice a coincidence, but when you keep running into the same person every now and then, it doesn’t feel so random anymore. The same applies to the digital realm when one like turns into someone commenting on every single picture of you, or worse, harassing or threatening you through electronic communication. It’s time to open your eyes and realise that you may be a victim of stalking or cyber-stalking.

No one should have to endure such a terrifying experience. This is why it’s crucial to stay educated and informed about what stalking is and recognise the signs. If you notice someone you speak to knowing a bit too much about your personal life, it's best to keep a distance and protect yourself from such individuals.

Here are a few warning signs that you may have a stalker. 

They know where you are

A stalker is someone who is obsessed with you; they display an abnormal fixation on your life and personal details. They track your movements by following you, showing up at places you frequent, or turning up uninvited at events you attend. This could include your residence, school, college, or workplace. Stalkers know your schedule and where to find you, often gathering this information from your friends, family members, or colleagues. Pay attention if someone asks too many questions about your whereabouts. Stalkers often try to sound natural when inquiring about your plans, but their questions usually have a hidden agenda.

They have no boundaries

They would repeatedly attempt to establish (unwanted) contact through calls, messages, emails, and social media, despite being told to stop. Even if you block them, they will find a way to reach you, acting on their fantasy of speaking to you. And it’s not just the medium; the content of these messages, whether online or by word of mouth, is often threatening, targeting you, your family, or friends, and may include information or pictures taken without your consent. They might also vandalise or damage your property or leave signs to let you know they've been around.

Most people are wired to be polite when surrounded by people. A stalker will use this to their advantage and manipulate you into interacting with them. They’ll approach you in situations where you can’t easily say no or cause a scene, for example at a public event, even if you have clearly expressed a desire to be left alone.

Shower you with unwanted gifts or messages

A stalker would stop at nothing, continuing to send you gifts even after being told to stop. Initially, you might think their actions are harmless and innocent, but if/when ignored, the situation can escalate to being more inappropriate and uncomfortable, especially when receiving such attention from someone you don’t know very well.

How to deal with a stalker

Trust your gut feeling when you start feeling uncomfortable or afraid if you’re being stalked. Dealing with a stalker can be a very uncomfortable experience, but here are a few things that you can do.

Set clear boundaries

Be firm and adamant about ending contact when you confront the stalker. It’s also important to do this at the very first instance of their intrusive behaviour. Remember that the conversation is about how their actions have made you feel. Don't worry about hurting their feelings; it was their intrusive behaviour that created this situation. You have to protect yourself by setting boundaries, and when it comes to a stalker, you need them more than ever.

But it doesn’t end there; you have to stay consistent in your actions by not responding to any communications, as doing so would only encourage them to continue stalking you. Do not say you’re going to go to the police unless you fully intend to. Not following through will only give your stalker a boost of confidence, knowing you don’t act on your words.

Change your routine and privacy settings

Stalkers are predictable because they know you and your routine. Alter your daily routine whenever possible by using different routes or timings for work, school, and other activities. Restrict their access to you online by reviewing and modifying your social media privacy settings. Be careful about the kind of information you share online and what you allow your friends to tag you in.

Involve others

Don’t keep the feelings and emotions of being stalked to yourself. Confide in people you trust and involve your small, intimate support system by talking about your situation. Doing so can provide reassurance as well as assistance.

Document and save evidence

You never know when the situation might escalate. This is why it’s important to meticulously document and keep a log of all interactions. This includes emails, text messages, and screenshots of posts and comments on social media as evidence of the stalking.

All images: Netflix 

Also read: Here’s how to not confuse healthy boundaries with ultimatums in a relationship

Also read: How important is it to set boundaries in your relationship?