” …Imagine each time you receive an alert, your mind goes blank, and your body becomes paralyzed in fear and you can’t breathe — because each of these alerts is caused by a person who is threatening to harm you, and everyone you know.”
These are words from our client, Francesca Rossi, at the sentencing of her stalker, Juan Thompson.
For close to a year, Thompson’s days centered around one goal – find new ways to torment his ex-girlfriend. He impersonated her, made up false accusations, and sent death threats. Her nightmare finally ended in Thompson’s arrest after he’d called in several fake bomb threats in her name.
Stalkers are driven by a cruel and obsessive need to make their victims pay for some perceived wrongdoing. They thrive off of their targets’ suffering and disruption to their lives.
If you suspect you are a victim of stalking, we urge you to read on to see how can protect yourself and make the madness stop.
1. Do. Not. Engage.
These days, using technology and social media as weapons to destroy a person’s life is fairly uncomplicated. VPNs, Tor browser, the ability to generate scores of fake phone numbers, spyware apps – the potential tools available to stalk are numerous and terrifyingly effective.
While technological innovation has inspired cruel and more creative ways to terrorize another person, stalkers’ desperate need to be noticed remains the same. They don’t care if it’s positive or negative attention. Many get sick pleasure from the tiniest morsel of confirmation that their actions have had an effect; they will uncover and deploy every manipulation they can find to provoke another reaction.
It’s only natural for victims to want to defend themselves against damaging lies and menacing behavior. But by doing so, they’re giving stalkers what they want – acknowledgement.
If someone is making unwanted and repeated attempts to contact you after you’ve firmly requested them to stop, don’t respond. Even if they threaten to distribute intimate photos, contact your employer, friends, or family – don’t respond. Focus your energy into gathering the evidence.
2. Resist blaming yourself.
Stalkers are determined to impose their will onto every aspect of their victims’ lives, especially their thoughts. They hope that if they can just make their victims see things their way, they may empathize or even let them back in their lives.
If someone is trying to convince you that you are the reason why they can’t get a grip on themselves — maybe you broke up with them or rejected an offer to date or confided in mutual friends about their unhinged behavior — remember that whatever reasons they conjure up to excuse their cruelty is the work of a master manipulator.
You are not responsible for your stalker’s criminal actions. Therefore, you are not responsible for carrying the shame and embarrassment of those actions.
3. Inform and assemble your support team.
Telling loved ones what’s happening is beneficially in two crucial ways.
First, it is mentally and emotionally torturous to be the target of someone’s obsessive rage. Being surrounded by friends and family who care is a continuous reminder of what respectful, unconditional love truly looks like.
Secondly, it’s an issue of safety. Your happiness is deeply offensive to your stalker. In their minds, you should be distraught and unable to function without them. Any evidence proving otherwise is a trigger. Your friends and family should keep in mind that anything they tag you in your stalker can potentially see. Ideally, they’ll also block your stalker on their social media as well. Finally, it may also be prudent to distance yourself from any mutual acquaintances who express sympathy to the offender, especially if you suspect they are cluing your stalker into your whereabouts.
4. Fortify your social media.
Change your passwords to social media, phone apps, email, iCloud and always choose the option to log out of other browsers after resetting just in case you signed into that account on a device your stalker has access to.
Set up privacy features to ask for approval before anything you’re tagged in can be posted to your timeline.
Block your stalker on social media. Any efforts to get around that blocking, such as creating new accounts to add you, calling from blocked or unknown numbers, indicates their escalating obsession. These fervent attempts should be documented and included in any statement you give to the police or a lawyer.
5. Use all resources available to get help.
Finally, don’t let others excuse stalking behavior as “not that serious” or diminish your feelings. If you are afraid to perform quotidian tasks outside the home, are consumed with fear over your safety, or sense that your stalker is only growing more obsessed, call the police and find a lawyer to help you.
If you are a victim, click the green button on the top-right side of this page to access our contact form and tell us what’s going on. We will be in touch right away!