Our intern Sara continues to reflect on what she is learning through the 70 hour Peer Counselor Training program she is participating in as part of her intership and future volunteering commitment.
In today’s social media climate, stalking has become something that many of us adults joke about, as well as the younger population. With a “Who Is Stalking You?” Facebook app that has ten thousand monthly users, it may not seem like that big of a deal, like it really is just a joke. However there are also three separate stalking interest pages on Facebook that can be found really easily; Stalking Interest, with almost forty thousand likes, Facebook stalking… admit it, you do it a community page with almost fifty thousand likes and a Facebook Stalking interest page with almost two million likes. Now does it seem like just a big joke? Facebook and other social media sites make stalking in the digital age that much easier. No longer does an ex-significant other need to follow you around town in order to keep an eye on you, but they can just ‘stalk your Facebook page’ to see what you are up to, who you are hanging out with, where you are going, and just your general thoughts on life.
Media portrays stalking as something cool; it’s just what you do when you love someone and they say they don’t reciprocate the feelings. If you stalk someone long enough it proves your love and eventually they will fall in love with you too, after all this is what happens in movies and even cartoons dating back to my early childhood. It may seem silly, but think about Pepe LaPue chasing that poor cat around trying to make it love him back; it seems funny, but these are the messages that we are engraining into our children’s heads. Even popular music depicts the loving side of stalking; everyone loves The Police, or maybe I am dating myself here. Every Breath You Take was at one point the most popular song used at weddings for the first dance, but just take a moment to look at the lyrics. “Every breath… move… bond… step… you take… make… break… I’ll be watching you… Since you’ve gone I been lost without a trace, I dream at night I can only see your face, I look around but it’s you I can’t replace, I feel so cold and I long for your embrace, I keep crying baby, baby, please…” This song is about a person who is no longer with the person they are singing about, this song is a catchy melody for sure, but it is about stalking not love, and certainly not the type of love that you want a healthy marriage to be based around.
Victims of stalking are not wooed by their stalker; they are terrified of their stalker. Stalking is an obsessive and harassing behavior that creates an intense feeling of fear and can have victims of stalking looking over their shoulder for years after the incident ends. 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 19 men have been stalked at some point in their lifetime, which means that it has likely happened to people you know. So, who are the stalkers? If it were that easy to pinpoint and identify them, I don’t think it would be such a prevalent problem, because most of us would just steer clear from them. There is no true prevention when it comes to stalking, we just have to be careful what we share with people we don’t really know, but this also means we need to
take time to really get to know people.
When it comes to social media, keep your page as private as possible and
even then, be cautious what you post.
If you are being stalked, or think you are being stalked, there are
things you can do. First and for most
also think about your safety first; be aware of your surroundings, keep your
doors locked on your home and vehicle, and let your neighbors and your employer
know of your concerns. Documentation is
so important; keep a log of stalking incidents and even keep a telephone
log. This will help show a pattern of
behavior and really help to show what it is you are experiencing. You can also contact WEAVE’s 24 hour Support
Line for further assistance about stalking.