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stalking behavior

Did You Know? You Might Be a Stalker

Stalking is sadly a very common problem. But have you ever considered you might be a stalker yourself? Well, perhaps you should—because a survey released yesterday (July 9) has revealed more of us are stalkers than we think.

A team at SafeHome.org interviewed 2,000 men and women and asked them to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets. The results made for some intriguing reading.

For example, 30 percent of those interviewed have ‘jokingly’ been called a stalker; 25 percent of the interviewees admitted they’d hacked into someone’s email and 22 percent had driven by an ex’s house.

What is stalking?

Stalking is defined as a pattern of on-going and unwarranted attention, harassment, contact, or other behaviors directed at someone causing them to be reasonably fearful.

Simply poking your nose in someone else’s affairs (whether the person is love interest or a neighbor) isn’t technically stalking—unless the actions legitimately make the target afraid. In other words, exhibiting stalker-like behavior is one thing, criminal stalking is quite another.

The stalker in us all

The persona of the stalker is deep-rooted in the American psyche and entrenched in our popular culture. Take, for example, the immortal words of Sting, ‘Every step you take, every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you’; or the abundance of classic movies—from Psycho (1960) to Cape Fear (1962)—where the archetypal stalker is brought to the fore in cinematic terms.

In both the movies and chart-topping tunes, references to stalker-like behavior are both allusory and blatant, pervasive and resonant.

Is this, perhaps, because—whether we like it or not—we can all identify with stalker traits? Is there a stalker within us all? After digesting the results from the SafeHome.org survey, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was.

That’s right, more than a third of the people interviewed admitted they had watched someone else without them knowing about it. And a shocking 22 percent of people confessed they had created a fake social media account to keep track of someone. Creepy!

But it gets worse. 20 percent of people said they’d sent someone a gift and not signed their name on purpose and 20 percent admitted they’d broken or ruined something that belonged to someone else.

Meanwhile, 19 percent revealed an ex had told them to stop contacting them. And, astonishingly, 16 percent of interviewees disclosed they had persistently messaged, phoned or texted someone after they had been asked to stop.

However spooky this data may seem, as long as the people carrying out these behaviors are not doing so with the intent to threaten or scare another person, the behavior is not technically stalking.

info graphic about stalking
Image courtesy: SafeHome

Who is most likely to be your stalker?

The SafeHome survey also revealed who was most likely to be your stalker, and what relationship they were most likely to have with you.

Your ex is most likely to be your stalker, with 26 percent of the people interviewed having been stalked by an ex. Close behind, however, was a ‘significant other’, with 25 percent of those surveyed confessing this was the relationship they’d previously had with their stalker.

Co-workers were the least likely to be a stalker, with just 5 percent of people saying they were stalked by one.

The gender factor

According to the SafeHome survey, men and women have different ideas about what constitutes creepy behavior.

When it comes to sexes and exes, men are more creeped out than women by the thought of a former partner hacking into their online life or following them in the real world.

Meanwhile, impersonating someone in real life—or online—disturbed women more than men. Whereas both sexes equally agreed that going into an ex’s house without permission was definitely on the spooky-scale.

Image courtesy: SafeHome

The age of creepiness

SafeHome broke down stalking targets by age. The youngest group they surveyed (aged 18 – 24 years old) said they stalked their friends more than any other group. Non-romantic friendships are more important to college-aged adults as they strive to find their place in the wider community. This factor could explain why friendship groups are common targets of stalkerish behavior within this age demographic.

Among those aged 25 to 64 years old, significant others and exes were most likely to be sneakily investigated. For those aged 65 and older, it was friends.

Image courtesy: SafeHome

The state of stalking

Does where we live in the U.S. influence our tendency to stalk? SafeHome’s survey found it does.

Those living in the West were the least likely to obsessively pursue their exes by following them or driving by their homes, while those living in the South were the most likely to do so. East Central U.S. fell in the middle.

SafeHome’s findings are in line with traditional U.S. stereotypes about regional personality differences.

The West Coast is often characterized as relaxed and laid back, while we consider the American South as somewhat more aggressive or confrontational. Whether these stereotypes hold true is a matter of endless debate —although some studies have shown that personality differences are, in fact, regional.

Image courtesy: SafeHome

When can we expect privacy?

When does stalker-like behavior develop into a serious crime? In some cases, the answer is very straightforward. Trespassing on someone else’s property, or breaking into their home, is a criminal act. Period.

It is also a crime to harass someone—this can apply to a lot of stalkerish behaviors from hacking into an online account to sending unwanted gifts.

High-profile celebrity court cases demonstrate that, in every state, stalking is a serious crime, whether it’s carried out online otherwise.

Curiosity is all well and good, but if you end up making the object of your attention justifiably fearful, you could also end up in jail.

Information courtesy of safehome.org.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures TV Series in Development

Fans of Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures (2017) rejoice; entertainment news site Variety has reported that a TV series inspired by the film is currently in development.

According to Variety, the TV series, which is currently in the early stages of development, is to appear exclusively on the National Geographic channel in a bid to produce more scripted fare. Producing alongside the major channel will be Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping from Chernin Entertainment. Chernin and Topping were the original executive producers of Hidden Figures.

The film was based on a book by the same name written by author Margot Lee Shetterly. Hidden Figures tells the true story of the black female mathematicians who were crucial to the success of the NASA American space program in its early years—despite the challenges they faced because of the color of their skin.

The slate for the film boasted an all-star cast including Tarahi P.Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as the film’s protagonists.

Hidden Figures was nominated for three Oscars this year including Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.

Further reading: ‘Black Panther’ to Break Saudi Arabia’s 35-year Cinema Ban

San Diego Coach Arrest

Lamont Smith Resigns as San Diego Coach after Arrest

Lamont Smith resigns as San Diego Coach on Wednesday March 7, just shy of two weeks after his arrest following suspicion of domestic violence.

USA Today reported that the men’s basketball coach at the University of San Diego was placed on administrative leave by the school the day after the arrest.

“We appreciate Coach Smith’s contributions to Torero Athletics and to the men’s basketball program since he joined us three years ago.

“Coach Smith elevated the level of competitiveness of our program, recruited an outstanding group of student-athletes and established a strong foundation for future success.

“This situation has been difficult for all concerned and our prayers continue to remain with everyone,” said the school in a statement announcing Smith’s resignation.

Smith had been arrested just hours after the Toreros played against the University of San Francisco on 25 February. Police arrived at a hotel where a woman, whose identity remains anonymous, had visible marks of injury who said that Smith had caused the marks.

“As a result of the evidence obtained from the investigation, Mr Smith will not be charged at this time,” said Alex Bastian, a spokesperson for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office in an email to USA Today Sports.

A statement by Gail Shifman, Smith’s attorney, states: “After reviewing all the evidence and completing their investigation, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office has discharged the matter and has declined to file any charges against Coach Smith.

“An arrest in California is not the same as being charged with a crime. The San Francisco District Attorney’ Office has declined to file charges because there is insufficient evidence and there are no court proceedings.”

Smith had played for San Diego from 1995-1999. The 42-year-old was initially hired to coach the basketball team in 2015, and had two years remaining on his contract.

Charles Manson Cult Leader

Cult Leader Charles Manson Dies Aged 83

Infamous cult leader Charles Manson has died aged 83. The California Department of Corrections confirmed that Manson died of natural causes at the Bakersfield Hospital in California this Sunday.

Manson rose to irrevocable infamy in the 1960s when his followers—the so-called “Manson Family”—committed violent, bloody murders that would both devastate and fascinate the world for decades to come. The shocking crimes took place on two consecutive nights late in the summer of 1969.

The Family first went to film director Roman Polanski’s mansion, murdering 26-year-old actress and wife to Polanski, Sharon Tate who was eight months pregnant at the time. Other victims were celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32, 25-year-old coffee heiress, Abigail Folger and Steven Parent, 18. Polanski was not present at the house. The next evening, Manson’s followers continued their rampage in the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, killing them both before scrawling “Death to Pigs” in blood on their front door. Prosecutors of the trial had said that Manson was trying to incite a race war.

Initially sentenced to death, Manson’s conviction was changed to life imprisonment following the abolishment of the death penalty in 1972 by the California Supreme Court. Manson was sentenced to nine life terms with the possibility of parole, but was refused parole on 12 occasions. While the cult leader had ordered the deaths of the victims, he was not found responsible for murdering anyone personally.

The cult leader and the Family’s murderous rampage have been the subject of books, films and plays for decades since. The trial was re-told in the TV film Helter Skelter (1976) based on a book of the same name written by prosecutors Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. The film was adapted again for television in 2004. Charles Manson and the Summer Murders were also re-told in a recent episode of American Horror Story: Cult.

Louis C.K. Admits to Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

The latest celebrity to be “outed” for grossly inappropriate sexual behaviour is Louis C. K., the Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian, producer, actor and director.

On November 10, he made a statement to the press admitting to all of the accusations of sexual misconduct made against him. This confession has followed an avalanche of revelations to hit the press recently on the topic.

In early October, Harvey Weinstein—infamous film producer and movie mogul—was accused of numerous counts of sexual harassment, assault and rape spanning three decades. The details of the abhorrent actions of the producer have shaken the industry to its very core. Rumours of manipulation and wrongdoing that have circulated for years have finally been substantiated—unveiling the dark reality behind the deceptive glimmer of “tinsel town”. The collapse of Weinstein’s career has had a catalytic effect, urging victims of other sexual predators within the industry to come forward. Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven and Oliver Stone are just a few of the names to be added to the list of shamed males. Each case has been met with varying consequences; mostly, the repercussions have been swift and visible.

Now, Louis C.K. is one of the latest celebrity figures to be dragged into the spotlight for sexual misconduct. In a report published by The New York Times on Friday, four women recounted their unsettling interactions with the Mexican-American comedian. The accusers experienced similar exchanges that included the same grotesque punch line, but in this case, nobody was laughing. One of the incidents occurred in 2002 at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Chicago. The comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov had landed their big break and were performing at the event. After the show, Louise C. K. suggested a seemingly cordial invitation to share a nightcap with the women. They were both appalled by the comedian’s request to take out his penis and his speedy removal of his clothes.

In an interview with The New York Times, Goodman described the encounter. “He proceeded to take all of his clothes off and get completely naked and started masturbating,” she said. Various other women have gone on the record, mirroring similar experiences of sexual misconduct and advances from the comedian. Each instance has involved Louis C. K. masturbating over the phone, undressing and masturbating in front of them or asking if he could masturbate in front of them.

A history of sexual misconduct ignored

Since The New York Time’s article was published, an increasing number of public figures have confirmed their long-standing knowledge of Louis C. K.’s tendencies. It appears that he has gained a notorious reputation through the years, especially within the comedic sphere. Even after gaining global acclaim, rumours of the performer’s behaviour persisted. This begs the question: If Louis C. K.’s misconduct and abuse of power was widely known, why was no action taken before? Claims are circulating that the comedy world closed ranks if anybody threatened to speak out about his behaviour.

Editor and TV writer, Nicole Silverberg, relayed her negative experience of tweeting about the comedian’s sexual misconduct. “I was told to delete a tweet I wrote about Louis C. K. abusing women before I applied to a high-profile comedy job because the people conducting the hiring process might not like it,” she remarked. Other figures have confirmed that their attempts to speak out about Louis C. K. had led to a career-threatening decision. In 2015, Jen Kirkman said on her popular podcast, I Seem Fun, “There’s a lockdown on talking about him.” Without naming Louis C. K. directly, many gathered that this conversation was in reference to him. “I’ve been told by people, ‘Well, then, say it then. Say it if it’s true.’ If I say it, my career is over.”

While Louis C. K. has admitted to accusations of sexual misconduct, many people are exceedingly unsatisfied by the mode of his address. In an open statement he said: “I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.” He continued, “These stories are true.” Within his almost 500-word address, Louis C. K. went on to describe his attempt to validate his actions because he had asked for permission each time. He stated that he had discovered “too late” that his requests weren’t questions; they presented a terrible predicament for the women involved. “The power I had over these women is that they admired me and I wielded that power irresponsibly.”

In light of the accusations of sexual misconduct, the distributors of Louis C. K.’s latest film, I Love You, Daddy have announced that they will no longer distribute the blockbuster. But this isn’t the only consequence to come of the idolised comic’s actions. Netflix have also announced their decision to axe all plans for a stand-up special with the comic. FX Networks—who had previously aired his show Louie in 2015—have also broken ties with Louis C. K.

A new Hollywood?

Hollywood’s landscape now appears to be shifting dramatically as a result of the brave sources that have spoken out. Since the first allegations of sexual misconduct and assault began several weeks ago, the topic has remained at the forefront of social interest. It has even sparked the #MeToo movement on social media that has been used to highlight the extent of global sexual misconduct. While the major focus is on female victims, male accounts of sexual harassment are also coming to light.

Those who had tried to uncover Louise C. K.’s secrets previously have shown contempt for the system. “Hollywood is only woke when it’s politically convenient”, comedian and journalist, Megan Koester, commented. “I feel disdain for the fact that people only started giving a sh*t about decades of allegations once women’s victimhood started trending. While I appreciate the fact that things are changing, I fear for the longevity of it,” she added.

Further reading: Quentin Tarantino on Harvey Weinstein: “I Wish I had Taken Responsibility”