The National Center for Victims of Crime: www.victimsofcrime.org

What is Stalking?

While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.

Stalking Victimization

  • 7.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
  • 15% of women and 6% of men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know: 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, 25% of female victims and 32% of male victims are stalked by an acquaintance.
  • Approaching the victim or showing up in places when the victim didn’t want them to be there; making unwanted telephone calls; leaving the victim unwanted messages (text or voice); and watching or following the victim from a distance, or spying on the victim with a listening device, camera, or global positioning system were the most commonly reported stalker tactics by both female and male victims of stalking.
    [Matthew J. Breiding et al., “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization - National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 63, No. 8 (2014)]
  • 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
  • 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
    [Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).]

Impact of Stalking on Victims

  • 46% of stalking victims fear not knowing what will happen next.
  • 29% of stalking victims fear the stalking will never stop.
  • 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result of their victimization and more than half lose 5 days of work or more.
  • 1 in 7 stalking victims move as a result of their victimization. [Baum et al.]
  • The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves be­ing followed or having one’s property destroyed.

Recon Study of Stalkers

  • 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method.
  • 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach.
  • Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases.
  • Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before.
  • Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly.

[Kris Mohandie et al.,“The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Based upon a   Large Sample of North American Stalkers,” Journal of Forensic Sciences, 51, no. 1 (2006).]

Some things stalkers do:

  • 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.

Things you can do if you are being stalked

  • Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
  • Take threats seriously. Danger is generally higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end relationship
  • Contact Valley Crisis Center,  24 Hour Crisis Line - 209-722-HELP (4357).
  • Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a relative or friend go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school or somewhere else.
  • Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
  • Keep evidence of the stalking.  When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date and place. Keep emails, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes.
  • Contact the police. Every state has stalking laws.
  • Get a court order.
  • Tell family, friends, roommates, and coworkers about the stalking and seek their support.