Romance or Stalking?
“Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I'll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I'll be watching you”
The Police, 1983
Romance or Stalking?
The media (film, tv shows, books and music) have for years misinterpreted romantic behaviour and have promoted stalking behaviours instead. Following someone, making exaggerated expressions of affection, calling, sending messages, gifts and watching someone out of sight have all been normalised as part of the courtship. Stalking is also found is cases where a couple has separated or divorced, and one of the two parties wishes for the relationship to continue so he or she will conduct “grant gestures” or “persist” until they win the other person back. What is never discussed in these romantic films or tv shows or musical lyrics is how the person who is being pursued feels about this unwanted attention.
What is stalking?
Stalking is a complex crime that has no unanimous definition. One definition for this crime was created by the National Center for Victims of Crime (2007). It defines stalking as a crime of psychological terror and of intimidation that can potentially escalate with the offender being violent towards the victim; the victims can be affected by serious health consequences from stalking.
Who is affected by stalking?
Anyone can be a victim of stalking it is a gender-neutral crime, The Office for National Statistics (2013) stated that in the UK 1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men are stalked every year. In Greece 12% of women have experience stalking from the age of 15 onwards according to the study the European Union (2012) conducted on violence against women. If women are more effected by this crime why is it considered gender neutral? The answer to this question is as complex as the crime itself and it is has become one of the most significant areas of research in stalking which is stalking acknowledgment.
What is stalking acknowledgement?
Jordan et al. (2007) defined stalking acknowledgement as the probability of a victim labeling their experience as stalking. Many people do not label their experience as stalking even though legally they meet the criteria of two or more incidents of stalking behaviours and they become fearful through those interactions (Protection Against Freedom Act 2012). This leads to the average stalking case lasting approximately 1.8 years.
Why does this happen?
Let’s go back to the start of this article and to the song lyrics of “Every breath you take” this song has been considered for many years as one of the most romantic songs and people use it as their wedding song. If someone closely looks at the lyrics a very different picture emerges one of a stalker that is constantly watching over their victim. Normalizing and romanticizing these kind of behaviours will make the victim hesitant to ask for help. After all should they not be flattered by this kind of attention by another? The answer is NO this is not romance this is a serious a dangerous crime that can escalate to assault and murder.
What should you do if you are being stalked?
Ask for help from your friends and family, document all the calls, messages, emails, gifts, record the phone calls if they are threatening in nature. The more evidence you have the easier it will be for you to show a pattern of behaviour from that individual towards you. Finally go to the police and ask for help with the evidence you have gathered even if the provide a caution towards that individual you have set things in motion and there is a record of that. Do not wait to ask for help until things escalate. Private all your social media accounts and do not use the GPS locations when you upload photos on social media.