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Your stalker may be someone you know

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The story of the Houston anchor that had been stalked for years sent chills up and down the neck of many women and men. Although the majority of stalkers are men, women stalk too and no matter who is the stalker, the threat to the person being stalked is the same. In the past police protection was limited until the stalker hurt the victim's property, but laws are changing and police are still the best source of protection for the victim being stalked. I have heard women joke about doing the drive by with a past boyfriend, but when those drive bys grow more intense and you are sneaking into the person's house or following them to work and harassing their new love, it is time to seek help.

Understanding the way a stalker thinks is important in understanding what you should do as a person being stalked. There are several kinds of stalkers and some of them are more dangerous to their victims than others. One thing is pretty universal. It begins with an obsession. Stalkers are usually socially alone, most likely live alone, and they can be very charming when they first meet you. This is why they are unexpected. The most common time to stalk is after a breakup and they begin by being a rejected stalker. Their perception of feeling insulted after the breakup and their need to get even is what motivates them to begin harassing their ex.

2. The intimacy-seeking stalker is usually delusional. They actually get it into their head that the victim loves them or will love them if they pursue her/him.

3. The socially backward stalker is socially awkward and has no idea what the social norms are with dating. Their stalking is more a result of their social ineptness.

4. The predator. This stalker is the most dangerous and he uses sexual gratification and violence to get his way. He is abusive and many times has never met his obsession. This guy is disturbing because he plans meticulously how he will stalk, and he experiences sexual fantasies with the planning and rehearsing of his plan.

If you begin getting any of these warning signs from someone you dated or someone you don't know, but work in a visible field such as media, medical staff, post office employee, teacher, or other related fields, it is wise to take caution.

1. You begin getting phone calls or numerous emails immediately after seeing the person.

2. They become clingy and somewhat forceful with wanting to see you, and are upset if you aren't available.

3. They make demands that are unreasonable for the amount of time you know them (don't be flattered by thinking you are so delightful they cannot help themselves).

There are things you can do immediately with these red flags that will help you in the future. The first thing is to recognize it isn't normal behavior. Some stalkers are charming and can fool you.

1. Tell everyone you know what's going on. Tell your friends, parents, employer, or anyone who makes you feel safer.

2. If the stalker begins making any threats toward, you call the police. Thinking it's no big deal or that you can handle it is not wise. No one can know the extremes a stalker will attempt, so it is better safe than sorry.

3. Don't allow yourself to entertain the stalker by conversing with them. Be firm that you want nothing to do with them. When the stalker perceives you are rejecting him/her, they may use violence against you (stalkers are not emotionally healthy), so this is an excellent time to talk to the police and let them know of any conversations you have had.

4. Save everything written or said by the stalker. If you press charges, the more evidence you have of his/her threats and behavior, the more likely he/she will be held accountable.

As I mentioned early in this article, stalking is sometimes related to funny stories, but there is nothing funny about stalking. It is a form of harassment and can lead to death. If you have stalking tendencies, there are things you can do to prevent yourself from being a stalker as well. The majority of them have an obsessive pattern which they lose control of. They become co-dependent upon the person, which means they believe they cannot exist without the other person. Going to a Co-Dependency group can help as can going to AA or Al-Anon. Stalkers usually self medicate with drugs and/or drinking as well. Building a social network is important also, as many stalkers live isolated lives. With all problems, the first step is to look inside and be honest with yourself that you have a problem. With this situation, being honest with yourself may save your life as well as the person you are having a relationship with.

– Mary Jo Rapini

• In Texas a great co-dependency support group is CoDA of Texas. Search for the group on Google to find dates and times of support groups.

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