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20% of High School and College Students Victims of Being Stalked: What to Do If You're Stalked

When you think of someone being stalked, chances are that a celebrity or other famous figure comes to mind. So it may surprise you to learn that, according to recent studies, college and high school campuses are prime targets for stalkers. That's right -- some 20 percent of high school and college students, both men and women, have been victims of stalkings.

Many of the college and high school students don't reveal this for various reasons to their parents, so if you have a child who is or will be in this age-range, it can definitely pay to discuss this with them. If you are a college or high school student, read on for key strategies on what to do if you are ever stalked.

Stalking is much more than being followed by a stranger -- it can even be, at the most extreme end, deadly. According to one Department of Justice study, 10 percent of college-age stalking victims had their stalker attempt or force sexual contact, while the stalker threatened or attempted to hurt the victim in 15 percent of cases.

20 percent of high school and
college students say they've
been victimized by stalkers.
Read the tips below to find out
what to do if you're being stalked.

Stalking can include many unsettling behaviors like telephone harassment, sending unwanted gifts, pursuing or surveillance. Stalkers have various reasons for their behaviors, but there is often an underlying psychological disorder or delusional motivation.

Researchers have discerned five major types of stalkers, and it helps to be aware of the characteristics:

    The Rejected
    • Results from broken relationships with friends, parents, coworkers, lover
    • Stalker seeks reconciliation and/or revenge
    • Stalker often feels frustrated, angry, jealous and depressed

    The Intimacy Seeker
    • Stalker perceives victim as his/her true love and pursues an intimate relationship
    • Stalker often has a delusional or other disorder including schizophrenia or mania and may hold morbid infatuations

    The Incompetent
    • Stalker is often intellectually and socially incompetent
    • Desires intimacy with victim but lacks knowledge of courting rituals
    • May have stalked others in the past
    • Stalker may believe they are entitled to the victim but don't typically feel the victim is attracted to them in return

    The Resentful
    • Stalker wants to frighten or distress the victim
    • Stalker may feel an injustice has occurred against them and seek revenge

    The Predatory
    • Stalker enjoys the control and power of stalking a victim
    • Stalker tries to learn about the victim and may mentally rehearse a plan of attack
    • Is more likely than the other categories to have a history of sexual offenses

How Common is Stalking, Really?
One of the biggest myths of stalking is that it is something that rarely happens, and if it does it happens to celebrities. As such, most people do not take stalking seriously even though it can result in serious crimes like rape and murder.

Yet according to a study of 800 students, one out of five high school and college students have been victims of stalkings.

Linda Manning, director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center at Vanderbilt University, said, "As a general attitude, I think people are amazed when they hear how frequent this kind of situation is ... so we (as a society) deny that it happens; we minimize its impact, and we sort of don't want to know. And I think that's the way in which we don't do a very good job of addressing this."

What to Do if You Are Being Stalked
Being stalked is a very frightening experience, and educating yourself on what to do if you become a victim is your best defense.

Stalking victims need all the
added security they can get,
and the Los Angeles Police
Department says getting a dog
is one of the most effective
alarm systems out there.

Orders of protection issued by law enforcement, which legally prohibit stalkers from contacting their victims, are the first step victims should take, says Valerie Wynn, executive director of a center for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Nashville, Tenn.

According to Wynn, "They do work in 80 percent of cases. They stop the behavior and they keep the victim safe."

Contact your local law enforcement department as a first step to explain your situation and to find out how such an order of protection can be issued.

"I Know You Really Love Me" is a
must for anyone who is or has the
potential to be a victim of stalking. It
reads like a white-knuckle thriller but
"Can save your life, or the life of
someone you love," according to
one critic. Available at an
exceptional price now!

I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist's Account of Stalking and Obsessive Love lists other precautions that you can take. Beyond the order of protection, here are other keys:
  • Only say "no" to the stalker once. Any further reactions will reinforce the stalking.

  • Get a guard dog. According to the Los Angeles Police Department's Threat Management Unit, this is "one of the least expensive but most effective alarm systems."

  • Never give out your home address or telephone number, and block them at the DMV and voter registration, where they are easily accessible to anyone.

  • Use a post office box and put this number on your checks.

  • Document everything the stalker does in the event you decide to take legal action (save gifts, phone messages, letters and keep a record of attempts to contact you, etc.)

  • Don't accept packages that you haven't ordered.

  • Keep a cell phone with you at all times, even when you are inside your home.

  • If you think you're being followed, drive to the nearest police station -- NEVER to your home or friend's home. Use your horn and lights to attract attention if the situation seems particularly urgent.

  • Don't keep it a secret -- tell those around you that you're being stalked so they're on the lookout for suspicious people.

  • Put a locking gas cap, one that can only be unlocked from inside the car, on your gas tank.

  • Consider moving to a new location (research how to keep your new destination secret, first).


Stalking Behavior

The Detroit News

The Antistalking Web site

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