Washingtonians we know have been hurt — and even killed — by unmerciful pursuers of love. But their loss is nothing compared to the mental anguish some women endure every day. In some cases, they are “chasing fakes,” say experts, “blowing” it by looking the other way. “Don’t engage in the search. And if you start to catch up with the ‘stalker,’ do not engage,” says Susan Grant, author of “Stalking: A Survival Guide for Women in Constant Danger.”
Who falls victim?
“Sex offenders, cultists, stalkers who show no remorse. In the United States, an average of 25,000 women are stalked each year,” says Laura Brown, director of education and research for the National Safe Futures Program.
Why people follow
According to mental health experts, curiosity can turn obsessive, leading people to take their partner for an instant who, in reality, could be a serial killer. While women are hit hardest, experts say, nearly all stalkers are male. “They do not display signs. Because of their intense emotions, they can sometimes become very frustrated and shocked,” says Brown. But it’s important to know the signs. Watch out for boyfriend-girlfriend relationships that seem all but romantic but turn sexual. The gregarious, hyper-social can become addicted to the social and the attention.
Which signs are important?
“I’ve seen the person change dramatically, and the whole relationship changes. With Facebook, I often find people who are just there to get the material,” says Grant. And watch out for people who say, “I’ll look after her, and she’ll be safe.” Experts recommend visiting a victim’s home, talk to friends and neighbors and generally stay away from the person. “I’ve found that some victims are now wearing police-style sunglasses,” says Brown. “You won’t be able to recognize them.”
Questions to ask
You want to know the rest of the story. Do the following questions sound like someone who is following you?
-Do you notice the person only stopping to pick up or drop off someone else?
-Do you have fears about saying no or leaving at any time or failing to communicate properly?
-Do you have a friend who says you are making things more difficult or even dangerous for yourself?
-Do you have suspicions about possible financial crimes?
-Are you aware that there is someone’s name on your driveway or you can see through your garage door in certain states of the nation?
-If you have any plan to hide, do you have one in writing?
-Are you paying for anything that appears to be personal or important, especially if you have children?
-Does the person seem to know what you do and when you do it?
-What is the motive behind anything you do?
-What do you do when the person goes to work or to the grocery store?
-What is the person doing where you are?
-Have you ever left town or turned up late at night?
-Have you ever left town or turned up late at night before?
-Do you ever do anything where you are alone with someone?
-What is the person doing when the person is alone with you?
Source: Washington Post article