Instagram vs Reality - Stalking
by Mandy Moore, Teens Climb High Program Assistant
Instagram filters present a glamorous but unreal image of ourselves and the world. Our social culture and media can similarly distorted the dangerous reality of stalking and it's impact on teens. We consume memes, sensational movie plots and jokes that glamorize and trivialize stalking. If we don't see dangerous behavior for what it is then we likely won't see the ways we can support each other and stop the real harm.
That cat wearing a tie is funny but misguided if they think Stalking = Love. Stalking is not cute or romantic or sexy. In its many forms, stalking is dangerous, causes lasting harm to the victims, and it's against the law. In reality. . .
Stalking can be defined as Any repeated, unwanted contact that makes you feel afraid or harassed.
What is Stalking? You may be a victim of stalking if someone:
Repeatedly calls your phone
Sends unwanted gifts, letters,messages or emails
Damages your property
Monitors your phone calls or computer use
Follows you around or v work uninvited
Uses technology to track where you go without your enthusiastic consent
Drives by or lingers near your home, school, or work
Threatens to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets
Performs any other actions that control, track, or frighten you
Uses other people to try to communicate with you, like family or friends
If you are being stalked you may:
Be fearful of what the stalker is capable of doing
Feel vulnerable, unsafe, or not know who to trust
Feel depressed, hopeless, angry, anxious, irritable, on-edge, and hyper-vigilant
Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories
Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid
Miss work or school for fear of seeing your stalker
Find yourself making life changes to avoid the stalkers behaviors
Is this happening to you? To Someone you know?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Stalking and Teens
Nearly HALF of US youth have been experienced stalking or harassment. More than 80% of survivors know the person who is stalking them. They could be a family friend or someone you are in a relationship with.
Young people are at an increased risk for stalking.
Let's be real - It's normal for for dating to be awkward sometimes but its not normal for it to be abusive. A recent study published in the journal Youth & Society, showed that 48% of 12-18 year-olds who have been in a relationship have been stalked or harassed by a partner, and 42 percent have been the person who stalked or harassed a partner. It is difficult to report accurate statistics when stalking can look like so many things. Imagine how much more difficult it is to track if we are then mislabeling these dangerous behaviors as quirky flirting or passionate romance. Or not believe people when they share their fears.
CYBER STALKING -
Repeatedly receiving unwanted telephone calls, voice or text messages is the most commonly experienced stalking tactic for both female and male victims of stalking.
Unfortunately, cyber stalking is commonly a part of abusive teen relationships.
How many tech devices are near you right now? Your phone, laptop, smart watch, Air Tags, video game consoles, Apple TV’s and the list goes on. Many teens are attached to multiple devices with endless apps and with that access comes more access points for cyber stalking.
Ongoing quarantines in 2020 sent us inside to physically distance ourselves from each other. Of course we turned to the virtual world to close that gap socially. While these habits may have protected us from the virus we should be mindful of the vulnerabilities we are now exposed to in the cyber world.
Cyberstalking is a violation of boundaries and people’s freedom and right to privacy and ultimately their safety and sense of safety.
What can you do if this is happening to you or a friend?
Stalking is a a crime that can with early intervention we can prevent or minimize trauma, escalating violence and even death. Harassing and stalking behaviors like going through social media accounts and destroying personal belongings is a part of a pattern that can lead to physical violence. Everyone deserves to feel safe at school and at home. Here’s some things that you can do ….
Take those early signs seriously,
If you see something, say something. If it is safe, tell the individual that they’re behavior is inappropriate (and possibly illegal). If you do not feel safe doing that, engage a trusted adult to figure out your next steps.
Believe victims and connect them to resources .
Resources for help include:
Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
Trusted Professional in your community [School Counselor, Title IX coordinator, Campus Advocate]