What is Stalking?
According to New Mexico law (NMSA 30-3A-3), “Stalking consists of a person knowingly pursuing a pattern of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated or threatened. The alleged stalker must intend to place another person in reasonable apprehension of death, bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint or the alleged stalker must intend to cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of a household member.”
A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Stalking is a gender-neutral crime, with both male and female perpetrators and victims. Majority of stalking cases are men stalking women, but men do stalk men (sometimes the current boyfriend of their ex-girlfriends). In some cases, women can also be perpetrators against other women or against men.
Are You Being Stalked?
Stalking may occur before, during and after a relationship, or in spite of one. For some, the stalking begins when trying to leave a bad relationship.
According to the Stalking Resource Center, if you are being stalked, you may:
- Feel fear of what the stalker will do.
- Feel vulnerable, unsafe, and not know who to trust.
- Feel anxious, irritable, impatient, or on edge.
- Feel depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, tearful, or angry.
- Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping, or remembering things.
- Have eating problems, such as appetite loss, forgetting to eat, or overeating.
- Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories.
- Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid.
- Follow you and show up wherever you are
- Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.
- Damage your home, car, or other property.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or emails.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras, location services, or gps, to track where you go/ are.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records or on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and unfortunately, the things that are making our daily lives easier are also making it easier for stalkers to exploit their victims.
- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other online social networks make it easy for stalkers to find out personal information about you. Be careful how much information you post on the web; remember, cyberspace is public.
- Search Engines can turn up all kinds of information about people. Be careful which web sites you choose to list your personal information on, including SS#, credit card number, and /or address.
- Email and Chat can be a great way to connect with friends, but it can also be a way for stalkers to invade your privacy.
- Don’t open mail from people you don’t know.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Be careful about what personal details you share in a chat room.
Things You Can Do
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, and taking precautions does not mean it will not happen to you. Yet there are steps to increase your safety.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Trust your instincts . Don’t downplay danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or domestic violence program like La Casa, INC . They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, refer you to other services, and weigh options such as seeking a protective order.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, and arranging a place to stay.
- Keep records of all stalking/harassing behavior . Keep accurate dates, times, and locations of where events took place. Make sure you get the names and phone numbers of witnesses. Keep all copies of letters, envelopes, and all packing materials. The more evidence you have, the more the police can help you.
- Consider getting a restraining order that prohibits the stalker to stay away from you, your work and/or school.
- Tell family, friends, roommates and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them not to release your personal information to others.
Ways to help
If you someone says they are being stalked, take them seriously.
Connect them to resources.
Use Bystander Intervention if you see an act of stalking happening.
Always call 911 if you feel like you or they are in immediate danger.
For More Information on Stalking:
24-hour Crisis line (575) 526-9513 or 1-800-376-2272
Las Cruces Police Department Victim Assistance Unit
The National Center for Victims of Crime
1-800-FYI-CALL (24-hour hotline)