It can be incredibly worrying when you think someone might be stalking you. When one reader wrote to us with concerns that a male ‘friend’ may now be stalking her after she blocked him, our agony aunt, Mary Fenwick, took the time to explain the key signs of stalking behaviour and how to identify them..
Is my male ‘friend’ stalking me? What are the key signs of stalking behaviour and what should I do?
‘I’m happily married with small children. For several years, I’ve been part of a social club and developed a friendship with another member, a single man. At the start of lockdown, things got weird. He began calling and texting a lot – some days I’d have five missed calls.
‘I told him to back off, which he seemed to accept, until lockdown eased and he grasped every opportunity to see me. I blocked him on social media, but his inability to get the message unnerved me and, at times, I have wondered whether he is stalking me. Am I being unreasonable?’
Mary’s tips on identifying and dealing with stalking behaviour:
‘You are not unreasonable. The fact that you asked this man not to contact you should be clear enough to anyone rational. I wouldn’t like you to get so hung up on the definition of words (is it stalking; is it harassment?) that it stops you from taking action.
‘The best place to get help is the police non-emergency number 101. This connects you to the police, who will offer advice, and will also create a record of events and your concerns. The Metropolitan Police website says of social media harassment: “messages do not necessarily have to be violent in nature, but would need to have caused some alarm or distress”.
‘It sounds as if you have been mulling this over and I wonder if there’s a part of you that feels you ‘asked for it’ by being friendly. Perhaps you haven’t thought of it like this, but feeling responsible for his unwanted attention is victim-blaming, turned on yourself.
‘This is the tendency to focus on what you might have done to avoid being targeted, instead of remembering that you are dealing with an adult (he has better options to deal with his loneliness). It’s worth remembering that you did not choose this, you don’t deserve it, and you can take action now.’