People everywhere have been talking about Netflix’s new show “You,” which documents a man’s process of stalking in pursuit of a romance with a girl he meets at his bookshop. Ultimately, the stalker’s behavior begins to escalate, as he murders several people throughout the first season. Stalking and murdering—sounds pretty awful right?
But the reaction to the show has not solely been repulsion for the stalker, but rather a sense of romance for some, which highlights the dangers of how people may romanticize stalking behavior rather than stop or report it.
By definition, stalking is any behavior that can cause someone to fear for his or her safety as a result of another person exhibiting an unwanted pattern of behavior that may cause disruption of one’s daily life or emotional/mental state. On average, 7.5 million women and men are stalked each year in the United States alone. Typically, as Netflix depicts, a stalker usually will date or be involved with those that they stalk, although they can be a stranger as well.
In order to prevent this from happening, it’s important to know some of the big red flags if you suspect that you may have a stalker:
- Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts or emails.
- Damage your home, car or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or GPS, to track where you go.
- 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, online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage or contacting friends, family, neighbors or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track or frighten you.
By law, stalking is a crime in all 50 states and should be reported if you suspect that you or someone you know is being stalked or exhibiting stalking behaviors. Here are some steps you should take if you need to help a friend that is being stalked:
- Show support
- Do not blame the victim for the crime
- Remember that every situation is different, and allow the person being stalked to make choices about how to handle the situation
- Find someone you can talk to about the situation
- Take steps to ensure your own safety
When actively reporting stalking behavior, here’s what you should do to ensure that you remain safe:
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger.
- Take threats seriously. Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. 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 protection order.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Tell people how they can help you.
- Do not communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
- Keep evidence of the stalking.
- It is important to remember that you should keep evidence of the stalking regardless of whether or not the police were contacted.
- Remember, to be granted a restraining order, you must be able to provide documentation that stalking is occurring.
- Contact the police and find out about your state’s stalking laws.
- Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
- Tell family, friends, roommates and co-workers about the stalking.
Here are some resources that you can reach out to when reporting a stalker:
- Clemson University Police Department (CUPD)
- Title IX Office
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
- Office of Advocacy and Success
- CARE Network: If you know student is being stalked on campus or in the Clemson area, file a CARE Report
- Clemson University’s Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy
- Safe Horizon: Stalking
- Stalking Resource Center
Remember, stalking is not romantic, is not okay and is not a joke. It’s a crime. Please contact one of the above sources if you suspect that you or someone you know is being stalked.
Stalking Resource Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL
By Emily Martin Clemson University '21 | Health Science B.S. Calhoun Honors College Healthy Campus Communications and Marketing Intern