Despite what you may think, you don’t have to be a celebrity to have a stalker. Often, stalkers are people we know, like a colleague or ex-partner. So what may start as a keen interest in you could quickly turn into an unpleasant situation, as they become controlling over your life. But if you can pick up the signs early enough, you can learn how to avoid these types of people and move on with your life.
At Bright Side, we have researched some of the early signs of stalking to help you stay safe and alert.
1. Seeing the same person hanging around
Noticing someone lurking around your workplace or neighborhood can be one of the first telltale signs of a stalker. Perhaps you are bumping into the same person in the grocery store or they are parking next to you on the street or in the garage.
Of course, bumping into the same person occasionally doesn’t instantly mean that they’re following you. But repeated “random” meetings could signal that you have a stalker. For instance, you may bump into them at the store and then later at the gym — such coincidences could be a reason for concern if they are repeated.
2. Knowing more about you than what you’ve told them
Perhaps you are getting to know a neighbor or a colleague and they let information slip that you haven’t told them. Stalkers will use your online accounts to get as much information about you as possible, from accessing your private emails and social media to tracking your movements. They may also reach out to your family, friends, or place of work for more information.
3. Manipulating you into interaction
One major sign of a stalker is that they will find any way to contact you and keep you interacting. This often involves manipulation to draw you in, such as guilting you or threatening you. For instance, they may corner you at a party and not leave you alone, knowing that you probably won’t want to make a scene in front of a crowd.
4. Damaging your property
While damage to your property does happen, if it’s repeated, then it can be a sign of stalking. This can include forced entry into your home, arson to your property, as well as graffiti. They’re also known to leave signs to let you know that they’ve been to your home, from kicking over bins to rearranging your stuff to send you a message.
5. Spreading personal (mis)information about you
Stalkers can spread rumors about you, both online as a cyberstalker or face-to-face. It is common for stalkers to create online accounts or hack into your personal ones to assume your identity. They do this to embarrass you and spread misinformation in any way that they can.
This means that you may start to notice people acting differently around you, or you notice activity in your online accounts that you didn’t do.
6. Contacting your friends and family
You may find that an early sign of you having a stalker is the person contacting your friends and family without good reason or your knowledge. This may even involve manipulating your family and friends or threatening them, as the stalker tries to get control over your life. This will help them to get more involved in your life, as well as getting more information about you from those closest to you.
7. Coming to your rescue in emergencies
Of course, anyone’s car can break down and stop working at any point, but many stalkers like to play the hero. They can create situations where they can come sweeping in to rescue you, like a knight in shining armor. They will “just happen” to be passing by to offer you a helping hand.
Such incidents can be anything from a suspiciously sudden flat tire, your car not starting, or running out of gas unexpectedly. Although it may be tempting to accept, it’s best to decline their help and say that you have already called a mechanic.
8. Unwanted or inappropriate gifts
This can be quite an early red flag, especially if you have told them that you are not romantically interested in them. They typically try to manipulate you into accepting their gifts, such as putting you in social situations where it’s difficult to refuse. They will push your boundaries and not respect you and will obsess over you with “love bombing.”
What other signs do you think should be added to the list? What precautions do you take to protect yourself?