What is Stalking?
Stalking is defined as a repetitive pattern of unwanted, harassing or threatening behavior that is committed by one person against another. Acts that could be considered stalking include: being physically followed, repeated watching, harassment via telephone, receiving unwanted gifts, and other similar forms of intrusive behavior. Definitions of stalking found in state anti-stalking statutes typically define stalking as “the willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing of another person that threatens his or her safety”. Victims live in constant fear that they are being watch and that they may be harmed at any time.
Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk someone. Cyberstalking has been defined as the use of information and communications technology, particularly the Internet, by an individual or group of individuals, to harass another individual, group of individuals, or organization.
Cyberstalking behavior includes false accusations, monitoring, the transmission of threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sexual purposes, and gathering information for harassment purposes. The harassment must be such that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress.
Research shows that men are typically the ones who engage in this behavior and it is typically committed between people who know each other. Only one in four cases of stalking are committed by a stranger. In fact, most stalking cases involve a former intimate partner.
Suggestions for Dealing With a Stalker
- Gather as much evidence as possible to document the behavior of the person who is bothering you
- Examples of such evidence include: phone records, copies of letters, pictures of injuries, pictures of the person as they are following you (if possible), statements from witnesses corroborating the behavior
- Familiarize yourself with the anti-stalking statutes in your state to understand your rights and the actions you can take to protect yourself
- Notify local law enforcement and provide them with any evidence you have gathered to help support your claim
- Consider contacting an attorney to discuss obtaining a restraining order against the individual
- Consider contacting a state agency that provides support to victims
- Develop a plan to keep yourself safe by informing your family members, friends, co-worker, and neighbors
- Have a safe place to go in case of emergency
- Consider changing your phone number to be unlisted to prevent future phone calls
- Program important emergency contact numbers into your cell phone or carry them with you
- Consider obtaining a personal protection device such as mace, pepper spray or a TASER® gun
- Watch out for people who are loitering around your neighborhood or business – Do you see the same guy around your home or workplace? Someone that doesn’t belong there. Maybe they park next to you or you are constantly seeing them at a store, you see them at the gym or you happen to bump into them at a parking lot. Look there may very well be a coincidence, but there is no reason for you to see the same person at all the different places you frequent.
- Be aware if someone is watching you – This is different than a “lurker”. The watcher will keep an eye on you from a distance. They will gather personal information from people who are close to you. I have seen people actually hire a private investigator to do the nasty deed for them. They will get private details from you. As far as women go they also have a sixth sense when it comes to someone watching from distance. It’s a sickening feeling; if you are a woman you know what I am talking about. You cannot put your finger on it, but you just feel it.
- Make note of repeated telephone calls. Calls that come not from someone you are seeing that’s just checking in on you, but from someone you know casually. Why are they constantly calling you? Odd behavior. The scary ones, are when they just hang up, or are silent on the other end. Threatening to call the police may be a good tactic, but more often than not if they are psycho then it may instigate a situation you are not ready to handle.
- Beware of Manipulation. The stalker is looking for some way to interact with you. They may have contact by using legal measure like frivolous lawsuits. Some could be on the range of ridiculous. Some may even threaten suicide if you don’t return their affection. If you are being manipulated with this sort of behavior call the police.
- Notice the signs of Cyberstalking – These are the ones that send you several emails a day, or private messages when you are at work. Some will even send you links to inappropriate website. Some may only know the victim from their online profile. The good news is most law enforcement agencies have cyber-crime unit that are prepared to deal with those types of stalkers. I am sure you have seen one or two shows on TV where this has become apparent in today’s society. I am not saying don’t participate in online social networking but please make sure all your personal information is protected.
Stalking / Anti-Stalking Websites
- National Center for Victims of Crimes – The National Center for Victims of Crime is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. Since its inception in 1985, the National Center has worked with grassroots organizations and criminal justice agencies throughout the United States serving millions of crime victims.
- Sex Offender Search – Make sure the person stalking you is not a sexual offender. Search the National Alert Registry to find sexual offenders in your neighborhood.
- Stalking Victims – Anti-stalking resources and information.
- Stalking Resource Center – A program of the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Stalking Resource Center is committed to public education and implementation of multidisciplinary responses in local communities across the country.
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