Stalking is a series of actions a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” While each individual action that the stalker takes may not be illegal, it is the pattern, accumulation, and context of these behaviors that add up to the crime of stalking. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time (Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime, www.ncvc.org).
Stalking is a crime in all states that affects 3.4 million victims a year. A stalker can be someone you know well or can be a stranger or acquaintance. Many domestic violence or sexual assault victims have also experienced stalking as part of the abuse.
20-minute You Tube Video: Stalking: Real Fear, Real Crime- Part 1 of 3:Warning: This adult-themed video contains difficult, violent situations and is not appropriate for young children.
Tactics that a stalker uses can include:
Following you and/or showing up at various places where you are
Sending unsolicited or unwanted gifts, cards, emails, etc.
Vandalizing your property
Using technology to monitor your location and communications
Spreading rumors about you
Threatening you and/or your family and friends
Asking people in your life for information about you
Monitoring your accounts; searching public records for information about you
Entering your home when you aren’t there
Photographing you when you are with your friends or family
Assaulting or restraining you
Reporting you to the authorities for crimes you did not commit
In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims. Stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships.
What to do: By their very nature, stalkers are dangerous and unpredictable. There is no one response that is effective for everyone in stopping stalking. Below are some ideas of things that may work to increase your safety.
If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
Trust your instincts. If you sense you are in danger, you probably are.
Tell the stalker “no” only once. Repeatedly saying “no” only serves to reinforce the stalking by keeping the stalker engaged. Do not confront or try to bargain with a stalker.
Get an answering machine and leave it on your old phone line. Get another unlisted number for your family and friends. Have a friend monitor the answering machine if it is difficult for you. If you close off an avenue to a stalker they will find another which may be worse.
Develop a safety plan. Safety plans can includes such things as changing your routes to work, arranging for others to accompany you in public, temporarily staying with friends, planning what you can say if you run into the stalker, keeping an emergency phone nearby, etc.
Try to secure your accounts so your stalker cannot access information about you. Change your passwords frequently. Contact the utility companies and set up a password for your account. Block your address at Department of Motor Vehicles. Check with the Secretary of State’s office to see if you are eligible for a confidential address.
Document everything even if you have not decided whether to go to the police. Photograph injuries and damages. Ask witnesses to write down what they say while it is still fresh. Keep a log of dates, times, places, and witnesses.
Tell others that you are being stalked so that neighbors and co-workers will be alerted not to divulge information and will inform you when he is around.
Seek support of a victim services agency, stalking support group or private counseling.
Types of Stalkers While there are different types of stalking, stalking is about power and control. The stalker demands the victim’s attention and distorts the victim’s sense of reality.
Intimate partner stalkers: People do not recognize that a relationship has ended. Often other people, and even victims, feel sorry for them. Studies show that the vast majority of these stalkers were emotionally and/or physically abusive during the relationship, and many have criminal histories. More than half of stalkers are former intimate partners.
Delusional stalkers: They likely have had little or no contact with their victims. They may have mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, manic-depression, or erotomania. There is some false belief that keeps them tied to their victims. In the case of erotomania, the stalker believes that the victim loves him and may believe that they are having a relationship with the victim, even though they might never have met. Or, they may believe that if they pursue the victim long enough, the victim will realize they were destined to be together. Some studies show that delusional stalkers often pursue a victim for an average of 10 years.
Vengeful stalkers become angry with their victims over some slight, real or imagined. Some of these stalkers are psychopaths (people without conscience or remorse). Some are also delusional and believe that they are the victims. They all stalk to get even.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) 24/7: To be connected to the rape crisis center nearest to you, dial 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 24/7: 1-866-331-9474, 1-866-331-8453 (TTY) You can also chat live on-line with a trained Peer Advocate from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (CST) daily.
Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer, call The Advocates hotline 208-788-6070 or toll free 888-676-0066.
To immediately leave our site and redirect to an unrated site, click the orange escape button (shown above) in the top right corner on our website. Please test this feature RIGHT NOW to ensure that it works properly and that you are familiar with its function.