January is National Stalker Awareness Month, but it can be hard to identify a stalker at any time of year. COVID has made domestic violence more prevalent, and close proximity to abusers has made it easier than ever to enact digital stalking. We put together 5 quick indicators of digital stalking and tips for breaking free of it before it escalates.
You notice strange apps on your phone or other devices, or the apps you do have seem to change slightly without you altering them.
Solution: Remove strange apps, consider changing the lock code on phone or using biometric or two-factor verification, sign out of all linked accounts, change your passwords. Don’t use touch ID on your device.
You notice your alerts appear ‘glitchy’ or sometimes seem ‘read’ before you read them, or disappear altogether occasionally.
Solution: Check notification settings to determine if something was changed. Adjust to preferred settings if necessary. Remove any apps that appear to be altered if not necessary. Consider changing the lock code on the phone or using biometric or two-factor verification. Sign out of all joint accounts. Change passwords.
The person you suspect of stalking you seems aware of information you are confident was never shared to them, such as recent Google searches, text messages, or phone calls you’ve made.
Solution: Practice using privacy settings such as Incognito Mode when Google searching. Change as many passwords as possible. Unlink any joint accounts. Change the lock code on the phone or consider using biometric or two-factor authentication.
The person you suspect of stalking you asks lots of questions that appear to be extremely engaged in personal details of your life, such as information about your childhood or preferences.
Solution: Change security questions for any accounts and apps where this is possible. If it isn’t possible, monitor these accounts daily and consider contacting your bank or other institutions if you think your information has been compromised.
You notice someone that may be stalking you appears to run into you coincidentally far more often than chances allow, but you know you didn’t tell them your schedule, and you trust your friends and family wouldn’t reveal it either.
Solution: Assess apps on phone, especially those containing your appointments or calendars, to ensure that on one has shared access to it. Change all possible passwords. Remove any apps that you don’t need.
Remember, every situation is different. If you think you’re being stalked by someone you’re in a relationship with, it can be helpful to safety plan with your local domestic violence shelter or to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline from a secure phone. It’s common for people who are abusive to become escalated when they lose power and control so some of these options may not be safe to follow without extensive planning in a secure location.
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