Stalking is 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. Victims of stalking can obtain anti-stalking protection orders.
- 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 recreational places.
- 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 and social-networking sites.
- 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, social-networking sites like 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.
Responding to Stalking
- Do not negotiate
- Keep law enforcement involvement to specific incidents that are actionable
- The way to stop contact is to stop contact
- Document everything—keep a journal
Documenting Stalking Incidents
- Date and time of the incident
- The length of duration of the incident
- The location of the incident
- Pictures of injuries or damage that resulted from stalker’s behavior
- Names, addresses and contact information for witnesses to the incident
- Tape recordings of messages left on voice mail or answering machine
- Written statement of what the stalker did or said, and how he acted while doing it
- How do all the parties involved feel as a result of the incident
- How have your daily activities or procedures changed as a result of the stalker’s behavior
- The names and badge numbers of officers who responded to the scene
- Copies of the police reports that resulted from incidents
- Copies of protection orders that exist for anyone involved