What is stalking?
Stalking is repeated unwanted contact intended to cause a specific person to fear harm or death. This could take the form of a fear of harm, injury or death for themselves, a relative, or any third party. Abusers who use stalking to terrorize and threaten create substantial emotional distress for their victims, family members and third parties.
What does stalking look like?
A stalker may:
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
- Damage your home, car, or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
If you are being stalked, you may:
- Feel fear of what the stalker will do.
- Feel vulnerable, unsafe, and not know who to trust.
- Feel anxious, irritable, impatient, or on edge.
- Feel depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, tearful, or angry.
- Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping, or remembering things.
- Have eating problems, such as appetite loss, forgetting to eat, or overeating.
- Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories.
- Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid.
If you are being stalked, what can you do?
You may feel safer developing a safety plan that includes:
- Knowledge of, and quick access to, critical telephone numbers, including:
- Law enforcement numbers and locations;
- Safe places (such as friends, domestic violence shelters, etc.);
- Contact numbers for use after safety is secured (such as neighbors/family, attorneys, prosecutors, medical care, child care, pet care, etc.) and
- Accessible reserve of necessities.
Alert critical people to the situation who may be useful in formulating a safety plan, such as:
- Law enforcement
- Family, friends, or neighbors
- Security personnel
Documentation of stalking should be saved and given to law enforcement. Documentation of the actions of the perpetrator may be useful in future complaints or proceedings, for evidentiary or credibility purposes.
If you think you are being stalked your primary goal should be to locate a safe place for yourself. Safety for stalking victims can often be found in the following places:
- Police stations;
- Residences of family/friends (location unknown to perpetrators);
- Domestic violence shelters or local churches, etc.; and/or
- Public areas (stalkers may be less inclined toward violence or creating a disturbance in public places).