Did you know that 6.6 million people are stalked each year in the United States? It’s true! According to The National Center for Victims of Crime:

A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but men do stalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.

How to Know for Certain That You’re Being Stalked

The first thing to remember is that you did not cause anyone to stalk you. If someone is stalking you, it’s not your fault. Still, you’ll need to know for sure that this is really happening, and there are some clues that you can watch out for. Here’s how to know if you are being stalked seriously:

• You’ve seen the individual follow you.

• You have seen the individual show up at random places where you happen to be, like the store or the post office.

• The individual has done damage to your car, home, or other property.

• You’ve seen signs that someone is monitoring your computer use or phone calls.

• You found hidden cameras or tracking systems on your car or in your house.

• You have seen the individual drive by where you live, where you work, or where you go to school or spend your time.

• You’ve received letters, e-mails, text messages, phone calls, or other communication regularly from this individual.

• You’ve experienced other actions that try to track, control, intimidate, or frighten you.

• You’ve noticed that someone is looking you up online or using public records to find information about you.

• Your friends, coworkers, family members, or neighbors have been contacted by this individual and asked questions about you.

• Someone is going through your garbage.

• A private investigator was hired to follow you.

• You’ve been sent unwanted gifts.

3 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Here’s some helpful advice for protecting yourself if you think you’re being stalked.

Set up a home security system.

Setting up a home security system is a great idea if you are worried about a stalker. It can help you feel safer and give you video or picture evidence if a stalked is indeed coming to your house. ­Interested in monitored home security? Get a free quote from Protect America.

Have a safety plan in place.

You want to avoid this person being anywhere near you, so have a safety plan in place. Arrange a place to stay if you need to, stay with friends or family members if you are frightened, change your routes and other routines, always have your phone with you, and finally, notify friends and family members of what’s going on.

Learn some self-defense.

It’s never a bad idea to learn self-defense. Self-defense classes are available, or you can also purchase a small container of pepper spray, a blinding flashlight, or a rape whistle to have with you. Just make sure the laws in your state allows this.

When to Get Help From Professional Law Enforcement

Here’s one last piece of advice: Make sure you have evidence that you are being stalked. All states have their own stalking laws, but you’ll need to prove that it’s happening.

If you know that your stalker has been following or watching you, write down the place and time that it happened. If you’ve been receiving emails, texts, letters, or anything else from a stalker, keep these things. For material items like letters, keep them in separate Ziploc bags, and write the date, time, place, and anything else that is relevant on the bag.

This may seem like a rather morbid thing to do, and it certainly won’t be comfortable. But again, the police will not follow up on a case of stalking that has no evidence to support it.

Finally, if you are ever in immediate danger, always contact the police right away by calling 9-1-1. Trust your instincts!