Stalking is a pattern of behavior that makes you feel afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. It is when someone repeatedly contacts you, follows you, sends you things, talks to you when you do not want them to, or threatens you.
Stalking behaviors can include:
- Sending e-mail and pictures
- Creating a Web site about you
- Sending gifts
- Stealing things from you
- Calling you repeatedly
- Any other actions taken to contact, harass, or frighten you
You can be stalked by someone you know casually, a current boyfriend or girlfriend, someone you dated in the past, or a stranger. Getting notes and gifts at your home, in your locker, or other places might seem sweet and harmless to other people, but if you do not want the gifts, phone calls, messages, letters, or e-mails, it does not feel sweet or harmless. It can be scary and frustrating.
Sometimes people stalk their boyfriends or girlfriends while they are dating. They check up on them, page or call them all the time and expect instant responses, follow them, and generally keep track of them even when they have not made plans to be together. These stalking behaviors can be part of an abusive relationship. If this is happening to you or someone you know, you should talk to someone.
Stalking is a crime and can be dangerous. The legal definition of stalking and possible punishment for it is different in every state. Contact a victim service provider or your local police to learn about stalking laws in your state and how you can protect yourself.
If you are being stalked, you might:
Feel helpless, anxious, fearful, angry or de-
Feel like you can never get away from the
Think the stalker is always watching you
Feel frustrated that the stalker will not leave
Have difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
Not know what might happen next
You are not alone
- 1,006,970 women and 370, 990 men are stalked annually in the United States.
- 77% of female and 64% of male victims know their stalker.
- The average length of time victims are stalked is 1.3 years.
- One study of stalker found that 82% of stalkers who pursued female victims followed them, spied on them, stood outside their home, workplace, or place of recreation; 61% of stalkers made unwanted phone calls; 33% sent or left unwanted letters or items; 29% percent vandalized property; and 9% killed or threatened to kill a family pet.
- A survey of university undergraduates revealed that 20% had been stalked or harassed by a former dating partner; 8% had initiated stalking or harassment; and 1% had been both the target and the initiator.
If you are stalked, it is not your fault. Stalkers are responsible for their behavior, not the victims.
If you believe that someone is stalking you, you can contact the police. Documentation is key!