Stalking is no laughing matter. 3.4 million Americans experienced stalking in 2019, which accounts for 1.3% of the population.
Many people are aware of stalking and ask themselves, “Am I being stalked by my neighbor?” Yet they confuse stalking behavior with media depictions, assuming that stalking is about a guy in a hoodie following them. In reality, stalkers do far more than follow people around.
What are the most common signs of stalking? When does innocent behavior become stalking behavior? What should you do when you encounter a stalker?
Answer these questions and you can keep yourself safe from stalkers today. Here are five signs your neighbor is stalking you.
1. You Keep Bumping Into Your Neighbor
It’s okay to bump into your neighbor at the grocery store every now and again. You and they live close to each other, so it makes sense that you would see each other at the same locations.
However, you should set boundaries. If you are running into your neighbor every day, you may be encountering stalker behavior. You should never encounter your neighbor at private events or locations they should not know about, like your doctor’s office.
2. Your Neighbor Keeps Calling You
Your neighbor may call you with a request to check their residence or to give you a head’s up about something. They should not call you multiple times, especially if you have no social or romantic involvement with them.
If you keep getting calls from numbers you don’t recognize, you should backtrace them. They may come from your neighbor or one of their friends.
3. You Receive a Weird Gift
Stalking behavior can begin with unusual presents. A stalker may send a gift in the hopes of winning someone over. If the recipient does not respond, they may send further gifts, including inappropriate ones.
When you get a weird gift, you should put it off to the side. Anything you find disturbing should go to the police so they can investigate it.
4. You Get Rescued
Other stalkers try to win someone over by playing the hero. They may slash your tires and then approach you, offering to replace them.
If you keep encountering difficulties and your neighbor keeps showing up, they may be stalking you. You should contact a private investigator who can monitor your home and keep your stalker away from you.
5. You Are Threatened
When stalkers do not receive the interest they expect, their tactics can escalate. They may ask you out for casual dating or for sex. If you decline, they may threaten you or your family with force.
This is never okay. You should contact the police and tell your neighbor not to approach you.
So Am I Being Stalked by My Neighbor?
Millions of people ask, “Am I being stalked by my neighbor?” Bumping into your neighbor or receiving a call from them does not mean you are being stalked. Encountering them repeatedly does, especially if they are calling you for no apparent reason.
You should never receive an unusual or sexual gift from your neighbor. They should not create situations where they interact with you. Under no circumstances should they make an advance or threaten you, and you should get help if that happens.
Your safety must be your top priority. Read more personal safety guides by following our coverage.
Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.