Saturday, August 2, 2008

"How to handle being stalked?"

Merriam-Webster's third definition as a transitive verb applies here:
"To pursue obsessively and to the point of harrassment."

According to the on-line "Ask a Lawyer Now" (Just Ask)

"Stalking is the willful and malicious act of following, viewing, harassing, communicating with, or moving threateningly toward another person. Stalking behaviors may be expressed by written and verbal communications, unsolicited and unrecognized claims of romantic involvement on the part of the victims, obsessive surveillance, harassment, loitering, and following that may produce intense fear and psychological distress to the victim. Stalkers use telephone calls, conventional and electronic mail, and vandalism to communicate these obsessional interests."

That sounds pretty comprehensive to me.

There have been stalkers who have made headlines because they have stalked celebrities -- Mark David Chapman who ultimately killed John Lennon; Margaret Ray who stalked David Letterman and broke into his house many times; John Hinkley, Jr. who ended up shooting President Reagan to impress Jodi Foster.

That being said, I strongly suspect that the majority of stalkers we never hear about on tv or radio or the newspaper. They are the ones who stalk the likes of you and me.

It poses a very real danger and too often leads to fatal consequences. Time and time again I hear stories about law enforcement and others in position of authority failing to take such complaints seriously and then the unthinkable happens.

I believe that, just as there has been a "push" to educate people about what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere, there needs to be such education in the area of what constitutes stalking. And it needs to begin at an early age. And what it means when someone says, "NO."

Just one more thing. There are red flags. If an individual is suspected of having tendencies toward stalking, there certainly needs to be earlier intervention so that this individual can be given the necessary help before psychological and/or physical harm is done to anyone.

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