How does it feel to be stalked? Does it make the victims feel good about themselves and their appearance? Or does it make them feel scared of not knowing what the stalker can do to them? With so many cases of stalking coming up and many different ways available to stalk someone, these questions need to be thought about. There is a “casual stalking” trend going on among the youngsters and being a teenager myself I must say that it does get a bit creepy when you find people from school or college you’ve never talked to casually stalk you on social media, but it also brings this little feeling of being “popular” in mind, at least that’s what my experience till now has told me. Casual stalking can escalate to something worse, into an actual case of cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking has led to many dire consequences. A woman was literally robbed of all her money by her ex; her cyberstalker, with whom she had previously been in an abusive relationship. The victim has no idea about who the stalker could be and the stress and anxiety that they go through is unimaginable. The stalker sends them requests, messages on every social media and this escalates into them texting and calling, threatening them to be with them. And even when the victim blocks them, they find new ways to contact their victim; it’s like a never-ending cycle. And even if the stalker does get caught, the fear stays. ‘The fear never leaves me. It’s always going to be there and I’m always going to have to worry about something like this happening.’ This is what Miss Pratt has to say even after her perpetrator got convicted. The stalkers also target their victim’s social reputation. “It started off innocuous enough, then expanded to writing that I was into sado-masochistic sex and posted my home address and phone number. It took me 10 years to get justice, but I finally did”, says Jayne Hitchcock (a cyberstalking victim and now a cyberstalking expert). Physical stalking and cyberstalking have caused many deaths in recent history and an example of this is the heart-wrenching story of Amanda Todd, who committed suicide at the age of only 15. When you know that there is someone out there, constantly keeping a watch on everything that you do, it’s the most unsettling thing. You have no privacy, that someone is there wherever you go. You don’t know what to expect from them. And things do get violent. There’s a feeling of confusion in the beginning, you don’t know if you’re actually being stalked or not. “Am I over-reacting?” this is the question many people in such situations ask themselves. Frustrations starts taking over, you have no idea about what to expect from the future. And then the stalking gets worse, and in India, the victim mostly doesn’t speak up because they’re girls (mostly) and they know that they would be blamed for being stalked, and they end up doubting, questioning and blaming themselves for it. The stalking then goes on to threatening, the stalker threatens you to do whatever they want; it’s all about them and nothing about you. There’s constant fear, fear for yourself and for the people close to you. What if they get hurt because me? This question adds up more to the feeling of self-blame and is much worse when someone does actually get hurt. Everything is a lot more difficult when the victim can’t speak up, like in our own country, and this is true also for the boys as we expect a lot from them also and feeling unsettled by anything goes against the whole meaning of a mard. When someone knows that they can’t stop what is happening to them, they become trapped in all the negative feelings that arise from that particular thing. They can’t tell anyone that they’re being stalked, they can’t share the worry with anyone, then the anxiety level is bound to be very high. Sleeplessness, depression, panic-attacks and what-not? And these then cause physical weaknesses. Feeling unsafe wherever you go, knowing that someone might be there, watching you, just the thought is enough to give you chills down the spine. Imagine the ordeal of an actual stalking victim. All these negative feelings then lead to homicidal and suicidal thoughts and many times to actual homicides and suicides. And to get away from these thoughts, the victim many times turns to drugs and alcohol, further deteriorating their mental and physical health. To avoid the stalking, many victims keep moving to different places, making their career and/or studies suffer, leading to financial problems. At a stage, the victim just stops going out. Because of the fear and insecurity they stop interacting with people, they stop trusting people. All this just because we don’t give them a chance to speak up. All we need to do as a society is to realize that stalking is not what the victim invites to themselves, but it is an illegal activity that someone does, which needs to be punished by the law. It’s just a simple truth that we need to realize which can lead to a lot of lives being saved.
-Contributed by our volunteer Naz Gul