What is Stalking?
The term "stalking" is most commonly used to describe specific kinds of behaviour directed at a particular person, such as harassing or threatening another person. But the variety of specific strategies employed and behaviours displayed by stalkers are limited only by the creativity and ingenuity of the stalkers themselves. As such, virtually any unwanted contact between a stalker and their victim which directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can generally be referred to as stalking. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time.
Facts on Stalking
- Stalking is a crime.
- Stalking can be very dangerous. 76% of women killed by their intimate partners were stalked by these partners before they were killed. All stalkers should be considered unpredictable and very dangerous.
- 1 in 12 women will become targets of stalking behaviour in their lifetime.
- 80% of female college victims know their stalker.
- 81% of female victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner are also physically assaulted by that partner.
- 31% of female victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner are also sexually assaulted by that partner.
- The average duration of stalking is 1.8 years. If stalking involves intimate partners, the average duration of stalking increases to 2.2 years.
- 3 in 10 college women reported being injured emotionally or psychologically from being stalked.
- 26% of stalking victims lost time from work/school as a result of their victimization
- Anyone can be stalked – not just celebrities. The vast majority of stalking victims are ordinary people.
- Stalking can occur during a relationship, after a relationship, or in the absence of a relationship.
- Technology can be used to stalk. Cell phones, computers, and surveillance equipment are just some of the technologies stalkers now use.
What do stalkers do?
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Repeatedly sends letters, emails and unwanted gifts.
- Repeatedly asks you out.
- Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.
- Damage your home, car, or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras and computers to track you down.
- 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 on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting your friends, family, neighbours, or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
To an outsider, the stalker's behaviour can appear friendly and unthreatening, for example, showering the victim with gifts or flattering messages. But, these acts are intrusive and frightening if they are unwelcome to the victim.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence crisis program. They can help you get the help you need.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else.
- Do not communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you. You may want to consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
- Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep e-mails, phone messages, letters, or notes.
- Contact the police. The stalker may have broken other laws such as assault.
- Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.
- Install solid core doors with dead bolts. If you cannot account for all keys, change locks and secure spare keys.
- If possible, install adequate outside lighting. Trim back bushes and vegetation around residence.
- Maintain an unlisted phone number. If harassing calls persist, notify local law enforcement, but also keep a written log of harassing calls and any answering machine tapes of calls with the stalker's voice and messages.
- Treat any threats as legitimate and inform law enforcement immediately.
- Vary travel routes, stores and restaurants, etc., which are regularly used.
- Inform a trusted neighbour and/or colleagues about the situation. Provide them with a photo or description of the suspect and any possible vehicles he/she may drive.
- Check with local police regarding a home security survey. These are usually free in most jurisdictions.
- If residing in an apartment with an on-site property manager, provide the manager with a picture of the suspect.
- Ensure that if you are listed on a building directory it show as either “occupied” or lists your last name only and an initial.
- When out of the house or work environment, try not to travel alone if at all possible, and try to stay in public areas.
- If you ever need assistance, yell "FIRE" to get immediate attention, as people more readily respond to this cry for assistance than to any other.