Stalking can be defined as a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking is against the law in every state. Stalking across state lines or in federal territories is illegal under federal law.
Stalking is a course of conduct that can include:
- Repeated, unwanted, intrusive, and frightening communications from the perpetrator by phone, mail, and/or email.
- Repeatedly leaving or sending the victim unwanted items or presents.
- Following or laying in wait for the victim at places such as home, school, work, or recreation place.
- Making direct or indirect threats to harm the victim, the victim’s children, relatives, friends, or pets.
- Damaging or threatening to damage the victim’s property.
- Harassing victim through the internet.
- Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
- Obtaining personal information about the victim by accessing public records, using internet search services, hiring private investigators, going through the victim’s garbage, following the victim, contacting victim’s friends, family work, or neighbors, etc.
- Technology can be used to stalk. Although newly-developed technology enhances our lives, it can also empower criminals. Cell phones, computers, networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, and surveillance equipment are just some of the technologies stalkers now use.
- To an outsider, stalking behavior can appear friendly and unthreatening, such as showering the victim with gifts or flattering messages. These acts, however, are intrusive and frightening if they are unwelcome to the victim
Who is at Risk
- Anyone can be stalked- not just celebrities.
- The vast majority of stalking victims are ordinary people.
- Most stalkers are not strangers and are known by their victim.
- A minority of victims are stalked by strangers.
- The majority of victims (approximately 80 %) are women.
- While the most common type of stalking is by a person in a former personal or romantic relationship, stalking can occur during a relationship, after a relationship, or in the absence of a relationship.
- Stalkers may keep the victim under surveillance or threaten him/her.
- Others begin stalking after the victim has ended the relationship, and the stalker feels desperate to maintain or regain control.
- Others become fixated on a victim without ever having had any relationship with the person.