We’ve all done something crazy in the name of getting a crush’s attention, but how crazy is too crazy? “How I Met Your Mother” explains this phenomenon perfectly with the Dobbler-Dahmer theory. It states that major romantic gestures are only considered “sweet” when both parties are interested in one another. For instance, Lloyd Dobbler holding up a boombox at the end of “Say Anything.” But when only one party is interested, this grand gesture can come off creepy or “Dahmer-like.” Big romantic gestures make all the difference when the attention is wanted. Valentine’s Day is often associated with love and romance, but for some, it can also bring fear and anxiety due to stalking.
Aside from the grandeur romantic gestures, society seems to believe stalking is that eerie feeling that someone’s always watching you. We tend to believe that a stalker is a creepy ex who just can’t let go, but stalking can take on a multitude of different forms. Stalking can include things such as surveilling, threatening, communicating with/about someone, obstructing a person’s property and harassment —whether over the phone, online or through mail among other things. These behaviors must occur on more than two occasions in order establish a pattern of behavior. All these behaviors are defined as a pattern of repeated unwanted attention.
We may think that stalking is only defined as being followed, when in reality it is a complete breach of privacy in the victim’s life. The lack of awareness of stalking has left victims feeling hopeless that they will ever feel safe again. Being stalked can leave a person feeling anxious, intimidated and paranoid among other things. It can severely impact a person’s mental health and overall well-being.
Somepeople think that stalking only happens to big celebrities such as the Kardashian-Jenner family, Selena Gomez, Rihanna and even recently to Keanu Reeves. Yet stalking can happen to anyone, in fact,1 out of 6 women and 1 out of 19 men have experienced being stalked in their lifetime in the United States. Many also report being stalked by an ex-partner, and the majority of stalking cases are in fact done by someone that the victim knows.
In order to protect themselves, many victims of stalking take various measures including getting a restraining order, changing their daily routines, installing security systems in their home and much more. They can also contact local law enforcement and seek support from victim advocacy organizations. Although people who have been stalked may take these measures, it’s difficult for cases of stalking to be taken seriously. Oftentimes police cannot take action unless a physical act of violence has occurred, or a law has been broken.
On top of this, stalking is not seen as a serious or dangerous offense in the eyes of the law. For example, in the state of North Carolina, stalking is considered a class A1 misdemeanor, which is only punishable by up to 150 days in county jail, that is if it’s your first offense. If a stalker stays persistent then they can be punished for up to 25 months in prison.
Valentine’s Day should be a time for love, romance and happiness, not fear and anxiety. If you or someone you know is currently dealing with a stalker, do not hesitate to seek help and take steps to protect your safety.
Additional resources include:
NC State’s 24/7 Sexual Assault Helpline
National Center for Victims of Crimes (NCVC)
+1 202 467 8700
National Domestic Violence Hotline
NC State Police