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Gang stalking, a term that describes the orchestrated harassment and intimidation by a collective against an individual or smaller group, is a disturbing phenomenon with real-world implications. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, stalking affects 6-7.5 million people in the U.S. each year, with a subset potentially experiencing the group-based tactics characteristic of gang stalking. While comprehensive statistics on gang stalking specifically are elusive, its impact can be profound, leading to severe psychological distress. Laws vary by jurisdiction, with some states classifying gang stalking as a felony, reflecting its seriousness. Understanding what gang stalking is crucial for recognizing its signs and providing support to those affected.
The number of people involved in the gang varies. Individuals might receive gang intimidation from a handful of people in a work environment, or they may be targeted by an entire community. Victims relaying claims of gang stalking perceive the attackers as well-organized groups of people, who not only communicate with one another in a certain location but also pursue the target in other areas by means of extensive contacts. Leaders generally enlist the aid of other individuals in the gang by various methods, which typically include providing false information about the victim, manipulating potential members, or employing those with similar criminal backgrounds.
Victims may be from any gender or socioeconomic background. These persons may outperform other co-workers, or have a set of standards that separates them from other people in an environment. Gang stalking frequently uses practices meant to destroy the victim’s qualities. These acts might include blaming the target for a gang member’s mistakes or taking credit for what the victim accomplished. In an effort to discredit a person or to add to the weaponry for the attack gang stalkers may perpetuate the notion that the target is mentally impaired or dangerous in some manner, forcing the person to undergo evaluation.
The list of physical tactics used against victims generally includes stalking behavior and unwanted attention. The majority of persons under attack report that stalkers frequently mirror the victim’s behavior. Gang stalking might include mirroring physical gestures or verbal comments. Many victims relay that gang members often enter or leave properties and other locations at the same time as the target. Victims also frequently report that stalkers often repeat private conversations occurring in a home environment or over the phone.
Gang stalking targets might also experience hang-up calls or calls from wrong phone numbers throughout the day. Attackers may enter homes illegally or employ the assistance of the target’s friends or family. In an attempt to confuse the victim or to cause them to doubt their own logic and reasoning, stalkers might rearrange or steal personal items in the work place or home. The criminal offenses of stalkers may become more aggressive or violent against the target, family members or pets.
Is Gang Stalking Real?
"Gang stalking" does not necessarily mean you are being stalked by a street gang (they usually have bigger fish to fry, unless you have crossed them in some way). The term simply refers to a form of bullying by groups against an individual or smaller groups. Sadly, this behavior is common among school children and teens, especially when the victims are different or stand out in some way. However, it can also happen with adults in the workplace, on college campuses and other places.
There are all kinds of motivations for gang stalking. Intolerance, prejudice, homophobia and racism are certainly among them, but often, the reasons are more personal. Envy or jealousy, fear of "the other," intimidation and exclusion or ostracization are also common motivators. So are vindictiveness and revenge. Sometimes, there is no apparent reason. This kind of behavior, known to behaviorists and biologists and as "mobbing," appears to happen among most mammal species.
Gang stalking can take multiple forms. It may be perpetrated by a loose association of people who just happen to have it in for the victim(s), or it can be a highly orchestrated campaign by a larger group, or even an entire community. Gang stalking usually happens in the brick-and-mortar world, but thanks to social media and the Internet, it can happen online as well. It needn't be threats of physical violence; under the cloak of Web-based anonymity, stalkers can continue to harass and post libelous stories about their victims. Victims may also receive relentless, harassing telephone calls.
Gang stalking is considered a crime, though it may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the jurisdiction and what form the stalking/bullying takes. If factors such as racism or antisemitism come into the equation, it may be considered a hate crime, which is a Federal offense.
Although gang stalking appears to be on the rise, it only seems that way. The good news is that more victims are speaking out and reporting such behavior when it affects them.
How To Stop Gang Stalking
One tactic that gang stalkers use is referred to as "gaslighting." The phrase comes from an old movie in which a murderer marries his victim's niece, then uses a series of lies, half-truths and other kinds of manipulation in order to convince her that she is going insane. The victim may find themselves the target of blame, or the gang might attempt to publicly discredit them or insinuate that they suffer from some mental disorder or delusion. Understand that it is not your imagination, that what you are being put through is very real. Have confidence (which can be challenging under the circumstances) and learn to trust yourself.
After that, the most important thing you can do is to document everything. Fortunately, modern technology has given us a plethora of tools for recording all kinds of events. It has often been said that sunlight is the best disinfectant; shine as much light on the situation as possible. If you can, enlist the aid of trusted friends and family to help in keeping records of what is going on.
Although gang stalkers are not always violent, it's a good idea to protect yourself. Were a helmet if you are out cycling, and carry pepper spray if it is legal in your jurisdiction, or some kind of an alarm. When out and about, whether in public, campus or the office, stay in heavily-trafficked areas where everyone can see what is happening.
What to Do About Gang Stalking
If you find that you are being harassed because of your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexuality, you should know that you have allies and support. For example, if you are African-American, you can turn to the NAACP, or even the ACLU for help and resources. Similar organizations for frequently-targeted groups include:
- Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
- Black Lives Matter
- Anti-Defamation League
Those who find themselves stalked, harassed and bullied for other reasons also have options. Most companies and academic institutions have personnel whose job it is to address such problems. Otherwise, the adage, "If you see something, say something" still applies. Even if you are not the victim, if you know of someone who is a victim of gang stalking, report it to law enforcement. If you are being harassed over the phone, contact your carrier, as they may be able to take some action (although these days of caller ID, phone harassment is much easier to avoid).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most common gang stalking techniques?
Gang stalking strategies include following the victim, monitoring, spreading false rumors, gaslighting, systematic harassment, and even physical attack. The goal is to make the victim feel untrustworthy, suspicious, and isolated. These methods can be carried out by a single person or by a group of people working together.
Who are the gang stalking perpetrators?
Gang stalkers might be strangers, acquaintances, or somebody the victim knows well, such as family members or employees. They may be motivated by vengeance, jealousy, or a desire for power and control. Gang stalkers are sometimes part of organized groups like hate groups or cults.
What are the consequences of gang stalking on victims?
Victims of gang stalking may have a wide range of emotional, psychological, and physical consequences. They may suffer fear, anxiety, paranoia, and feelings of isolation. Victims may have sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, and somatic symptoms such as headaches and nausea. What types of methods are commonly used in gang stalking?
Gang stalking can take many forms, but some of the more common ones include following the victim about, performing surveillance, spreading false rumors, gaslighting, coordinated harassment, and even physically assaulting the victim. The goal is to make the victim feel isolated from everyone else, paranoid, and unable to trust anyone. These strategies can be implemented by a single individual or by a group of people working together.
Who are the people that are responsible for gang stalking?
Group stalking can be performed by anyone, including strangers, acquaintances, or even people the victim knows well, such as family members or coworkers at their workplace. They may be motivated by vengeance, envy, or a desire to assert power and control over others. Occasionally, members of organized groups, such as hate groups or cults, are the perpetrators of gang stalking against others.
What are the ramifications of gang stalking on the people it targets?
Victims of gang stalking may suffer from a wide range of emotional, psychological, and physical consequences. They might experience fear, anxiety, paranoia, and loneliness. Victims may also endure difficulties sleeping, loss of appetite, and a variety of unpleasant physiological symptoms such as headaches and nausea. The victim's ability to work, interact with others, and carry out daily duties may be impeded as a result of the harassment.
Is gang stalking a crime?
Although gang stalking is unlikely to constitute a criminal offense in and of itself, many of the activities used in gang stalking are prohibited, including harassment, stalking, and destruction. A criminal conspiracy could be formed if the criminals work together in a coordinated manner. People who have been the victim of gang stalking should keep a record of all harassment episodes and report them to the appropriate authorities.
How can victims of group stalking protect themselves?
Victims of gang stalking should alter their routines, travel routes, and home security. Every harassment event must be documented, including the date, time, and location, and reported to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Mental health specialists can assist victims in coping with the psychological impacts of harassment. Organizations also help victims of gang stalking.