A stalker on your back is anyone’s worst nightmare. You feel helpless, unsafe and terrified. There is a constant feeling of being watched all the time and followed everywhere, and even your own home isn’t a safe haven anymore. When you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, double-checking the locks on your door, and find it hard to enjoy a good night’s peaceful sleep, the question of how to get rid of a stalker begins to weigh on your mind at all times.
And with good reason too. With cyberstalking cases are going up in the US, nowhere do people feel safe, not even at home. If we look at stalking statistics in the US, one out of every 12 women (8.2 million) and one out of every 45 men (2 million) have been stalked at some time in their lives.
Stalking is a gender-neutral crime but according to the survey, 78% of victims are women. Do girls also stalk? It’s obvious that they do but in far lesser numbers than men. The survey showed 87% of stalkers are men and 60% of stalkers identified by male victims were men.
What’s more, stalkers are typically people the victim has had a close connection with. The most common kind of stalking is when ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends, ex-husbands or ex-wives, or former cohabiting partners started keeping tabs on and following their victims’ every movement.
Since you’ve shared an intimate connection with this person, figuring out how to get rid of a stalker ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend or former spouse can become that much harder. We bring you the answers in consultation with advocate Siddhartha Mishra (BA, LLB), a lawyer practicing at the Supreme Court of India.
What To Do If You Are Being Stalked
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Stalkers are not hard to come by. You hear about your neighbor or your friend being stalked by some guy who is desperate to have her, celebrities being stalked by their fans, crazy exes stalking their girlfriend/boyfriend to get back together or take revenge. Their actions lead to severe mental trauma for the victim and could cause suicidal tendencies.
The National Violence Against Women Survey in the US defines stalking as instances where the victim felt a high level of fear. Stalking stems from a person’s need to control or instill fear in a victim’s mind. They could take recourse to vandalize property, following the victim around, threatening to harm family members or even killing a pet to hurt the victim’s feelings.
If you’re being stalked by someone, do not let it slide thinking that ignoring the offender’s actions will somehow get them to back off. These stalkers are sick-minded people who are obsessed with their victims. They build a world of their own that is far from reality. Their fantasies and imaginations show them what they want to see and justify each action of theirs. Today, in the age of the internet and social media, it has become easier than ever to keep tabs on a person’s every move.
Cyberstalking has emerged as an easier alternative to real-life stalking, which also means more and more people are falling into the trap of obsessively tracking every move of an ex or someone they’re fixated with. Even though it may happen in the virtual space, cyberstalking is just as harmful and can escalate to potentially dangerous levels.
So, whether you’re trying to get rid of a stalker on Facebook, Instagram or in real life, the key is to remember that stalking is a crime, and the person at the other end, an offender. Siddhartha says, “Stalking is a crime where the wrongdoer is liable to punishment and prosecution of the case is initiated by the state. It was added to the criminal laws of India after the 2013 Criminal Amendment Act passed by the Justice Verma Committee due to the increasing number of crimes against modesty of women in society.
“The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 amended the Indian Penal Code and inserted ‘stalking’ as a crime under Section 354D(1)(1). Under the provision, stalking is defined as ‘an act where any man repeatedly follows and contacts a woman so as to foster personal interaction despite a clear indication of interest by such woman’.”
Likewise, in the US, there are several legal provisions against stalking. After the state of California became the first to enact a specific stalking law in 1990, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted stringent laws to protect the victims of stalking. In 1996, the Interstate Stalking Act was brought into effect. Under US Code 18, section 2261A, it’s a federal crime to “travel across state lines with the intent to injure or harass another person and, in the course thereof, places that person or a member of that person’s family in a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury”.
The bottom line is, you should always report stalking to the police. If you are in imminent danger, call the emergency helpline number of your country or area – 911 for the US, 1091 or 100 for India, for example – to seek immediate assistance and protection.
Related Reading: Are you stalking your ex on social media?
Signs You Have A Stalker Who Is Following You Everywhere
How to get rid of a stalker? Well, as with any other problem, the first step toward remedying the situation is to recognize that you are, in fact, a victim of stalking. “Stalking may not make headlines, but it is more common than most people think and happens when a jilted lover or spouse becomes obsessed with his or her ex-lover or spouse, or if a person becomes obsessed with a complete stranger or coworker,” says Siddhartha.
So, how do you know if you’re being stalked? Remember that stalking can happen in different forms and varying degrees. A stalker may try to get in touch with you through digital modes such as calling and texting you from different numbers. This is called digital stalking.
Then there is cyberstalking, where they may harass you on social media, via emails and other online platforms. Yes, stalking an ex on social media also falls under this category. Then there is physical stalking – which is, by far, the worst – where the stalker follows you around everywhere, may try to establish contact and even passes on some twisted gifts to frighten you. No matter what the form, stalking always has a common theme – an obsessive need to track and follow the victim.
Too many accidental run-ins with that ex? Getting notifications of them liking your social media posts or photographs from 2 years ago? You’re right in thinking of ways to get rid of a stalker ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. While exes or former partners are the most common suspects, a stalker can also be someone unknown, your utility provider, a friend, an acquaintance or even a family member.
For greater clarity on whether someone’s seemingly intrusive actions qualify as stalking, let’s look at these signs that you have a stalker who is following you everywhere:
- A familiar face everywhere: You see the same person wherever you go. Whether or not you know this person, you will begin to recognize that this person is always in your vicinity. You feel that you are not alone and someone is watching you
- Creepy texts and calls: You get creepy texts and calls. You may dismiss them as a prank at first, but their frequency keeps on increasing, leaving you feeling unsettled
- Anonymous gifts: You find gifts at your doorstep or your office from some ‘secret lover’. That secret lover knows the addresses of the two places you spend most of your time. Think about what else they may know about you
- Unusual online activities: You start getting friend requests and creepy messages from several unknown IDs, all confessing their feelings for you or threatening you
- A helping hand: The same person is always there to help you out with your heavy bags or fixing your tyres. Who knows, he could have been the person to damage them at first
Related Reading: 12 Signs That You Are Dating A Stalker and need To Breakup
15 Tips To Get Rid Of A Stalker And Be Safe
Many people ignore their stalkers, thinking that they will soon get tired of their actions and stop stalking them. But instead, these stalkers take your silence as a sign of encouragement and go far beyond the line. The frequency of their activities increases and it eventually leads to far worse crime.
Stalking is a crime and it should be stopped at its early stages. These stalkers could be mentally ill or potential kidnappers, rapists and even murderers. Don’t take them lightly. If you are being stalked, it’s time to put an end to it. Be brave and follow these tips to get rid of your stalker for good:
1. Tell your family and all other people that need to know
Whether you’re trying to figure out ways to get rid of a stalker online or in real life, you need to confide in people closest to you. Your family is the first that needs to know that you are not safe. Don’t hide it from your parents because you don’t want to worry them unnecessarily or you fear that they’d freak out and put you under house arrest.
“Stalking is a particularly terrifying crime because it is unclear if the stalker plans to escalate the harassment to actual physical violence or will simply continue to be a presence. Most victims are not only annoyed by what appears to be unwelcome attention but worry that they will soon be exposed to far more unwelcome advances,” says Siddhartha.
It is this terrifying nature that makes having the right kind of support system crucial. If you’re being stalked, your close friends, boss and other people who see you on a daily basis need to know so that they can be of help and check on you regularly.
2. Upgrade your house security
As Siddhartha says, the scariest part about stalking is that you don’t know the intent of the stalker or the extent to which they’re willing to escalate their actions. When you don’t know how dangerous this person could be, figuring out how to get rid of a stalker becomes a secondary concern. Your first and foremost focus must be protecting yourself.
One day your stalker is following you, and the next, they could be threatening you at your doorstep. So, you need to make sure that you’re safe inside your house, especially if you live alone. Warn your security guard about this person and install CCTV cameras in front of your main door. If necessary, change your house locks to ensure that they cannot reach you when you are at home.
3. Avoid going out alone
Want to get rid of a stalker ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend? One way of doing it is minimizing the opportunities where they can escalate their actions, and go from following you to actually establishing contact. Make sure that whenever you go out, there is someone with you to look out for you.
Ideally, ask someone who is physically stronger than your stalker for help to minimize the chances of any attacks. It may seem like an overreach, however, with so many incidents of acid attacks by heartbroken ‘lovers’ being reported across the world, especially in countries like India, you can never be too sure. It’s best to err on the side of caution.
4. Be prepared for an attack
It’s one thing to get rid of a stalker on Facebook or other social media platforms and quite another to deal with one in real life. In the virtual space, you can simply block them and upgrade your account’s security settings to rule out the risk of them scanning your social media activity. However, in the real world, things can escalate quickly.
What if the stalker tries to approach you and you turn down their advances, which sends them in a fit of rage and they attack you? What if they try to violate your personal space and make unwelcome advances? It’s imperative that you’re prepared to protect yourself in such situations.
Carry some kind of weapons in your bag like a Swiss knife or the very popular and handy pepper spray. A stalker has predatory traits and will watch closely to find an opportunity to communicate with you or harm you when you are in a vulnerable position. Make sure that it’s not you who is the victim and don’t refrain from physically hurting them if it comes to it. Self-defense is your right.
Related Reading: 13 Warning Signs Of Being Obsessed With Someone
5. Ensure that your family is safe
“Stalking is not ‘usual’ conduct, even for a jilted lover. It is a demonstration of serious mental issues, and that’s why counseling requirements are imposed by the court on stalkers many a time,” says Siddhartha. This goes on to show that stalkers are never really harmless.
Even if you’re trying to figure out ways to get rid of a stalker ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend or estranged spouse, don’t give them the benefit of the doubt or let your past connection with them cloud your judgment. When a stalker faces any kind of rejection, their anger and obsession grow even more.
That’s when they look for your weaknesses to hurt you. Your family and your friends could be their first target. Ensure that they too are being cautious and taking protective measures for their safety.
6. Change your contact number
How to get rid of a stalker ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend? You have to be prepared to follow the no-contact rule in the most extreme form and sever all channels of communication with them. If the stalker is a former partner, they’d know your phone number and may harass you with continuous calls and lewd texts.
Even if you block their number, they’d use other numbers to get to you. In such a case, it is better to change your phone number and share it only with people who you need to contact on a daily basis. It will help you get rid of a stalker ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend if they don’t have any other way to reach you.
7. Go invisible on the internet
“Cyberstalkers are driven by the same intention as non-digital stalkers which is to threaten or embarrass their victims. The difference is that they rely on technology such as social media, instant messaging and emails to do this. Everything on the internet can be used by cyberstalkers to make unwanted contact with their victims,” says Siddhartha.
To get rid of a stalker online, you may need to take a break from social media for some time. Deactivate all your social media profiles for some time or at the very least, log out and stop using them. If that sounds extreme, then the least you can do is make your profile private and unfriend all unknown contacts from your friend list.
We sometimes accept requests from unknown profiles just because we see they have mutual friends or common interests. One of these profiles could be of the stalker, and you have unwittingly let a predator into your life. It’s time to clean up the mess. “In terms of social media, you should review your privacy settings and limit the visibility of your account so that only your friends and followers can see your updates, personal information and photos,” he adds.
Related Reading: How Does A Guy Behave After A Breakup? 11 Things You Didn’t Know
8. Cry out for help
While you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of a stalker, it’s important to stay vigilant and not let your guard down. If your stalker tries to corner you on the road, then you can shout for help and make people around you know that you are being harassed.
Stalkers usually feed on fear and by showing them that you are not afraid to turn them in, you can get them to back off. Use this measure only if they try to force you into a conversation or establish physical contact. This is a good way to get rid of a stalker, albeit temporarily.
9. Go out of town for some time
To get rid of a stalker ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, consider a change of scene. Take some time off and get out of town. You could consider taking a trip, visiting your parents or living with a sibling or a friend for some time. Now don’t think that by doing so you’d send out the signal that you are scared of your stalker.
Taking time off will give you a much-needed respite from the continued harassment and stress. This can work wonders for your mental health and peace of mind and will give you time to think clearly. Make sure you don’t tell anyone other than your most trusted people about your travel plans. Before going away, ensure that your family is safe, because he may go after your family.
10. Make your stance clear
Handling a stalker can be tricky business, especially if they’re a former partner. The best approach is to make your stance on the equation clear. Staying in touch with an ex can often lead to muddled, confusing feelings on both ends, and when you finally do try to pull back and move on, their stalking tendencies may kick in or become stronger.
The best approach to get rid of a stalker ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend is to nip the evil in the bud. When they first try to contact you after the breakup, tell them straight up that you will not tolerate any unwelcome advances.
Make sure that they know that you are not interested in them. Avoid any kind of further communication once you have told them your side of the story. Ensure to discourage them as much as possible. If they don’t get the message and stop, don’t hesitate in turning them in.
11. Tweak your daily routine
How to get rid of a stalker? By being as unpredictable as possible. If you are being followed, then it’s important for you to ensure that your stalker doesn’t know about all your whereabouts. Take different routes while commuting to work and back, and hang out in different places.
Go out with different people so that they aren’t able to narrow down who are the closest people in your life. Also, don’t have a set time for going out or coming back home. This can be hard as human beings are creatures of habit. However, by consciously making an effort to break your own patterns, you’d be throwing your stalker a curveball too. That is the easiest way to throw them off your scent.
12. Try hanging out in public places
Hanging out in public places will make you less accessible to the stalker, and in turn, less susceptible to potential harm. The fear of drawing public attention will prevent your stalker from escalating their actions and they may eventually go away. Even if it is for the night.
You will feel relieved and will be able to enjoy your time without the fear of being watched. This is a good way of getting rid of a stalker at least temporarily. At the same time, it’s vital to avoid any dark alleys or deserted roads and not travel alone late at night or early in the morning to minimize any risk to your safety.
13. Collect as much evidence as possible
Do not delete any message, email or call from your phone. Record all the calls they make to you and keep track of the gifts they send you. Just collecting evidence is not enough; ensure that you have a way to link all the evidence to your stalker or else it will be of no use.
Instead, your stalker could get alerted and try to destroy the evidence you had. Make several copies of the evidence and send it to two or more friends to be on the safe side. The ultimate answer to how to get rid of a stalker is to seek help from the authorities, and all this evidence will help make your case stronger.
Related Reading: 15 Clever Ways to Turn Down An Ex Who Wants To Be Friends
14. Contact the police
Stalking is a crime. Now that you have gathered enough evidence to put your stalker behind bars, go to the police and file an FIR. Ensure that you and your family get police protection as long as the proceedings are underway. Make sure that the police understand the gravity of the situation and are of immediate assistance.
Siddhartha advises, “A criminal lawyer can be hired to take legal action against stalking. A lawyer can draft a strong criminal complaint and file it with the enforcement authorities. Apart from the police, a complaint can also be filed with the National Commission for Women.”
15. Go public with your issue
Share your experience on all social media platforms to make people aware of your story. This will help others to know how dangerous this person can be and you will have many more people to support you. Sharing your experience will also motivate others to take steps against their stalkers. You will be surprised to know how many people are going through something similar.
We know that just the fact that you have a stalker can numb your feet. You feel afraid of the consequences of going against him. The truth is that if you don’t do anything about it in its early stages, it is just going to grow and affect other people in your life too. Even five minutes of courage can change your life. It is for you to decide whether you want to be the victim or the survivor.