“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,” according to the Department of Justice.
The State of New Mexico defines stalking as: knowingly pursuing a pattern of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated, or threatened. Stalker must intend to cause reasonable apprehension. Stalker must follow, surveil, or harass. Aggravated stalking: stalking when it violates a restraining order, while possessing a deadly weapon, or when the victim is less than 16 yrs. old.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, during a 12-month period approximately 14 out of every 1,000 individuals age 18 and older are victims of stalking. Half of all stalking victims experience one or more unwanted contacts a week and 11% off all stalking victims state that they have been stalked for at least 5 years. About 3 out of 4 stalking victims know their perpetrators in some way.
Stalking is a gender neutral crime, with both male and female perpetrators and victims. However, men commit most stalking with 4 out of 5 stalking victims being women. Stalkers come from every walk of life and every socio-economic background. Virtually anyone can be a stalker, just as anyone can be a stalking survivor.
Examples of Stalking Behavior:
Common behaviors and tactics used by stalkers include, but are not limited to:
- Following, spying, or appearing within one’s sight.
- Approaching or confronting someone in a public place or on private property.
- Appearing at one’s workplace, home, or school.
- Entering onto property someone owns, leases, or occupies.
- Contacting someone by phone, postal mail, email, text, social networking sites, etc.
- Leaving unwanted items, presents or flowers at a property that someone own, leases, occupies, or works.
- Verbal threats.
One of the ways perpetrators stalk victims is through the use of technology, known as cyberstalking. One out of every four stalking victims report cyberstalking.
Some uses of technology to stalk include:
- Persistently sending unwanted communication through the internet, such as spamming someone’s email inbox or social media platform
- Posting threatening or personal information about someone on public internet forums
- Video-voyeurism, or installing video cameras that give the stalker access to someone’s personal life
- Using GPS or other software tracking systems to monitor someone without their knowledge or consent
- Using someone’s computer and/or spyware to track their computer activity
Technology and digital platforms are a growing medium, which means that the likelihood that someone could interact with you in an unwanted, cyberstalking manner, greater as well.
What is the cost/consequence of stalking?
- Stalking victims experience disruptive psychological affects including fear and safety concerns, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
- Stalking victims report missing 11 days of work or classes due to stalking.
- While homicide only occurs in 2% of stalking cases, it is a high cost, and is typically a former intimate partner.
What should you do if you suspect you are being stalked?
If you think you are being stalked, please know you are right to be concerned. Stalking may escalate in behavior. Below are some tips to increase your safety and effectively report the crime.
- Try to avoid the person stalking you.
- If you are being cyberstalked via email or text messaging, make it clear that you wish to stop contact. Once you’ve made it clear, do not respond to further communication.
- Keep any evidence received from the stalker such as text messages, voicemails, letters, packages, emails, etc., but do not respond. You can do this by taking screenshots of conversations or even printing out email exchanges.
- Inform family, friends, supervisors, and co-workers of the situation.
- Consider reporting the stalking to local law enforcement.
- Keeping an accurate journal or log of all incidents connected to the stalking.
- Become familiar with computer safety and ways to stay safe online.