Being the victim of stalking and harassment can leave a person feeling very vulnerable. There’s this common thread of disbelief that no one is actually *hurting* you therefore you shouldn’t feel quite so stressed. Realistically, being on the receiving end of stalking and harassing behaviour can leave a person experiencing a wide range of thoughts and emotions that can be difficult to know how to deal with. It’s all normal for the circumstances.
Stalking behaviour does not need to include physical assault to cause harm. The constant wondering if this person is going to hurt you (or your family) someday can take its toll. Being scared to open your blinds or scared to go to the store can lead some victims to start to fear going out. In fact, many victims start to limit their social outings and lose touch with friends and family as a result.
Some possible symptoms a victim of stalking and harassment might feel include;
- denial, confusion and self-doubt due to wondering if you are over-reacting or if this is really happening (you’re not)
- frustration, anger
- guilt, embarrassment, self-blame, wondering what you’ve done to deserve this or to cause this
- constant fear and a desire to not want to be alone
- heightened degree of stress, anxiety, panic attacks
- school or work performance can deteriorate due to difficulty paying attention or concentrating
- hyper-vigilance (always on the lookout), easily startled
- lowered self-concept
- distrust towards others
- sleeplessness, nightmares
- loss of appetite
- feeling violated
- becoming emotionally numb
- headaches, hypertension, fatigue
- gastrointestinal problems
- problems with physical and / or emotional intimacy
- increased sick leave, unable to work
- flashbacks, post traumatic stress symptoms
- self-medication through drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs
Your emotional health and sense of self-worth are important. Talk to your friends and get support from someone you trust such as a doctor, religious leader, or counselor. It is important that you get help for yourself and for others close to you when dealing with the trauma caused by stalking & harassment. While you can’t control the person who is stalking or harassing you, you can find ways to take control of your life and emotions once again and ultimately, minimize the harm and disruption their behaviour causes.