Stalking is defined as the willful and repeated following, watching, and/or harassing of another person. In most cases, the purpose of stalking is to
force a relationship with an unwilling or unavailable target. It is a crime of power and control and is often a part of abusive relationships either during or after the relationship has ended.
Stalking is illegal (as in being a crime) but can involve actions which in themselves are legal, such as gathering information, calling on the phone, or
sending gifts or emails. Even filling your car with roses, when unwanted, can be viewed as stalking, when it has been made clear that you want to be left alone. It is important to document all behaviors and call us as soon as possible to determine if a protective order may be necessary to make it stop. Behaviors to look for include (but are not limited to):
- Waiting at the victim's workplace or in their neighborhood
- Persistent phone calls, text messages, emails, letters or notes
- Placing messages in the media
- Sending gifts from the seemingly "romantic" (i.e. flowers and/or candy) to the bizarre (i.e. pornographic gifts)
- Breaking into the victim's home or car
- Gathering information on the victim: contacting people who know the victim; searching public or personal records, or the trash, for information;
- persistently watching the individual
- employing detective agencies to watch the victim
- using cameras, audio equipment, phone tapping, or bugging the victim's home or workplace
- installing spyware on the victim's computer
- installing GPS tracking systems on the victim's car or cellphone;
- Manipulative behavior (for example: bringing legal action against the victim, or threatening to commit suicide in order to coerce the victim to intervene--all methods of forcing contact with the abuser/stalker)
- Defamation of character: the stalker will often lie to others about the victim, trying to limit their options and weaken their support network. This isolates the victim, making them seem more vulnerable, and gives the stalker a feeling of power and control.
- Threats and violence: the stalker uses threats to frighten the victim; vandalism and property damage (usually to the victims car); physical attacks that leave abrasions and bruises (mostly meant to frighten); less common--physical attacks that leave serious physical injuries, or sexual assaults
- Gang stalking: stalking by multiple perpetrators, or one perpetrator is able to convince others to assist in his/her stalking and harassing activities against a victim
Recent Stalking Statistics--The 2009 U.S. Department of Justice Report
In January of 2009, The U.S. Department of Justice released a report based on a national crime victims survey of stalking and harassment victims. Below are just a few of the statistics in this report:
- During a 12-month period an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking.
- About half (46%) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week, and 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more.
- The risk of stalking victimization was highest for individuals who were divorced or separated—34 per 1,000 individuals.
- Women were at greater risk than men for stalking.
- About 43% of victims stated that police were contacted at least once regarding the stalking.
- Male (37%) and female (41%) stalking victimizations were equally likely to be reported to the police.
- Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%). Electronic monitoring was used to stalk 1 in 13 victims (i.e. GPS monitoring, bugs, phone tapping, video).
- 46% of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next.
- Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.
Download the report: Stalking Victimization in the United States