An Emporia man was recently charged with stalking 21 women. While this may seem like a snicker-worthy thing for many people our age, the fact of the matter is that stalking is a very scary, often traumatic experience for the victim(s). What better time to have a discussion about this than January – National Stalking Awareness Month.
I think we’ve been trained to assume stalking is reserved for celebrities and the creepy people who idolize them. Stars who live in California and eccentrics that follow their every move may seem like distant problems, but stalking can happen anytime and anywhere.
We also tend to use the word “stalking” wantonly, especially when we call Facebook “Stalkerbook” and such. But jealously searching through others’ superficial information pages for hours is not criminal activity – it’s just pitiful.
And while some may argue that stalking does not lead to anyone being physically harmed, which is not always true, the criminal does steal something from the victim – their sense of security. Feeling safe is priceless, and to have it taken away for no good reason is entirely unfair.
It is also understandable why someone might not be sure if they are being stalked or not. After all, how are you supposed to recognize something if you’ve never experienced it before?
I would guess, however, that the feeling of having one’s privacy invaded is innate. It should be understood that we have a right to a certain amount of privacy from the government – and from each other. If or when we get that gut feeling, no one should feel shame in seeking help and standing up for themselves.
There is a definite lesson to learn here: be protective of your personal information. It is personal, after all.
For example, there are certain features on Facebook that are just plain unnecessary, like the “places” application. No one needs a record of where their “friends” are or have gone, unless they are specifically trying to find ways to feel left out.
In my unprofessional, but common-sense opinion, if we use preventative measures, stay educated and stand up for ourselves, we can work as a team to keep stalking from furthering itself as a problem in our community.