The Indian community in the United States is alarmed after a man stalked several families in Ohio for days before uploading a video of them on a local anti-immigration website. The video features photos and videos of Indian families and argues that Indians have “taken over” the area and pushed out Americans by taking away their jobs.
The episode has disturbed many, especially because of the persistent stalking of the families that went unnoticed. This also comes days after the shooting of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas and similar race attacks elsewhere.
If you’re in the United States, here’s what you should do when you sense someone is stalking you—as suggested by the National Center for Victims of Crime, which partnered with the US Department of Justice office on violence against women to create the Stalking Resource Center.
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
• If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
• Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
• Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
• Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.
• Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you. Click here to learn more about safety plans.
• Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
• Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw.
• Contact the police. Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
• Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
• Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.
• Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
(Source: Stalking Resource Center, a programme of the US National Center for Victims of Crime)