When persistence becomes creepy

“What sort of actions cross the line of what is considered stalking?”

In short, stalking is when the repeated actions of one person toward another are unwanted and cause the victim to feel fearful. Another way to identify if a person is crossing that line is if their actions are considered harassment. Stalking can happen between couples and friends, not just acquaintances or ex-partners. Victims can be female or male.

There is the stereotypical following of the victim to or from home, work or other regular “hangouts.” One example would be the perpetrator showing up at your work with the sole purpose of watching you or being around you.

At school, it could be waiting for you to go in to or come out of class when they have no other reason to be in the area (and you haven’t agreed to meet up). This doesn’t mean that someone who needs to talk to you about homework or a project is a stalker—that person has an objective.

Similar to this, would be the victim finding unwanted gifts from the perpetrator. Flowers, jewelry, poems or other items that show up repeatedly are not symbols of love when it makes the receiver uncomfortable.

It is also not about love when one member of a couple uses money spent on the other as a way to manipulate or guilt the recipient. Even though it’s not necessarily stalking, I feel the need to mention that. All of the gift-giving behavior is about power.

Repeated communication from the perpetrator through any channels, such as phone, email and social media, that is unwanted and frightening would be considered stalking. Threats to harm the victim, the victim’s family, friends, pets or property would fall under communication.

Communication can be direct or indirect. Direct would be the perpetrator calling the victim or sending messages. Because indirect is, well… indirect, I think many people overlook it or don’t think it is considered to be stalking.

Indirect forms of communication would be the perpetrator talking to or asking family, friends or acquaintances about the victim. It can also be spreading rumors or information about the victim to as many people as they can either by word of mouth or the Internet.

A perpetrator can try to obtain information about a victim by going through their trash, following the victim, searching the Internet for records or hiring a private investigator. Facebook and other social media sites are easy places for stalkers to look.

If you think you are being stalked, trust yourself. Record any incidences—what happened, who did it, pictures if you can and the date and time. Save all correspondences from the perpetrator, such as text messages and emails.

If you feel like you are in immediate danger, call the police. If a police officer makes any remarks about overreacting or does not offer much assistance, find another officer when you are done talking to the first. This creates a paper trail and evidence of the situation for your protection.

Finally, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. In McMinnville, the local center for domestic violence is The Henderson House, located on First and Ford streets.

Kourtney Bailey

Kourtney Bailey can be reached at
linfieldreviewbailey@gmail.com.