Things You Need To Know About Stalking
- Stalking is a crime.
Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that places a reasonable person in fear for her/his safety. It is against the law. Stalking across state lines or in federal territories is illegal under federal law.
- Many people are stalked.
1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetimes. 1.4 million people are stalked every year in the United States. Stalking happens to people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
- Stalking can occur during a relationship, after a relationship, or in the absence of a relationship.
Stalking often begins during a relationship. Stalkers may keep the victim under surveillance or threaten her/him. Others begin stalking after the victim has ended the relationship, and the stalker feels desperate to maintain or regain control. Still others become fixated on a victim without ever having had any relationship with the person. This may be an obsessed admirer who wants to be in a relationship with you. The attention may flatter you at first — until the person won’t take no for an answer.
- Stalking often follows a pattern.
It may start as unwanted attention: calling, leaving messages, unwanted letters, emails, gifts, following you, showing up at your work or home uninvited, and spying on you.
- Stalking can be very dangerous. 76 percent of women killed by their intimate partners were stalked by these partners before they were killed. All stalkers should be considered unpredictable and very dangerous. There is no way to know if a stalker will become violent.
- Technology can be used to stalk. Although newly-developed technology enhances our lives, it can also empower criminals. Cell phones, computers, and surveillance equipment are just some of the technologies stalkers now use.
- The difference between harassment and stalking is:
Harassment is an intentional series of acts that alarm, annoy, torment, or terrorize the person it is directed at. Stalking includes harassment but also includes a credible threat. A “credible threat” is a threat made “with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out that threat so as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety”.
Stalking or Harassment Safety Tips
- Listen to your intuition. Use your internal radar to pick up signals that something might be wrong.
- Avoid all contact. Clearly and directly say NO if you’re not interested in a relationship and then avoid all contact. Handle any unexpected or unavoidable contact calmly so as not to escalate the situation.
- Don’t react to the stalker, no matter how frightened or angry you are. Stalkers thrive on your energy. They want to elicit attention – positive or negative — from you. Don’t try to bargain with them.
- Take privacy and safety precautions. Install deadbolt locks. Keep your doors, windows, and garage locked. Install curtains or blinds to make it impossible to see movement or people in your house. Prepare an evacuation route just in case. Keep a Stalking Log of incidents and behaviors.
- Change your routes and routines. Vary the daily routes you take, whether by car or by foot. Keep your car locked and park in well-lit areas.
- Inform others. Let people around you — including family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, school officials, and police – know what’s going on and enlist their help. Contact a victim advocate.
- You can apply for a Harassment Restraining Order. It is possible that a protective order may increase the stalker’s behavior. Do your best to cut off the stalker’s access to you, as well as the energy he/she will try to elicit from you. Keep as much evidence as possible: messages, emails, a written journal of every time the stalker bothers you. Talk to a victim advocate about the risks and benefits of getting an order.
No matter why someone is stalking or harassing you, remember — it’s not your fault.
Additional Resources on Stalking
Stalking Resource Center
Stalking Response Program