What is Stalking?

Stalking is generally defined as the willful, malicious and repeated following and harassment of another person.  Criminal stalking can be identified as any activity that would instill fear in a reasonable person.  Stalkers may not attack or become physically violent; however, threats are often inferred.  Meaning, even those victims who aren’t physically harmed suffer fear, anxiety and the disruption of their daily lives.

The publication of the Model Anti-Stalking Code in 1994 made law enforcement agencies recognize that threat does not require words.  For example, a hand that’s pointed at you in the shape of a gun conveys a threatening message, especially if it follows ominous correspondence or telephone calls.  Other examples of threatening messages include, but are not limited to, receiving unwanted presents such as roses or chocolates, photographs with your image crossed out, or receiving a dead animal in the mail.


  • Of people who report sexual violence, 64% of women and 16% of men were raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. This includes a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date (Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, 1998).
  • 8.1% of surveyed women and 2.2% of surveyed men reported being stalked at some time in their life (Department of Justice, 2006).
  • 80.3% of victims knew or had seen their stalker before (National College Women Sexual Victimization Survey, 2000)
  • In 15.3% of incidents, the victim reported that the stalker either threatened or attempted to harm them (National College Women Sexual Victimization Survey, 2000).

If You Are Being Stalked:

If you think that you are being stalked, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself.

Talk with an advocate.  While you can take steps on your own, it is often helpful to enlist the assistance of trained professionals.  Victim advocates are specially trained to assist you through every step of the process (i.e. reporting your stalker, seeking counseling, etc.). 

Develop a safety plan.  A safety plan is a combination of suggestions, plans, and responses created to help victims reduce their risk of harm.  It evaluates the situation, the pattern of previous behaviors, and outcomes that will positively impact the victim’s safety.  Factors that could cause risk to the victim or the victim’s loved ones are identified and interventions developed.  Plans often include: what is known about the stalker, the people who might help, how to improve safety in one’s own environment, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Document the stalking and report it to police.  You should keep a log of all the stalking behaviors you’ve experienced, including emails and phone messages.  The log, as well as any gifts or letters from the stalker, can be collected and used as evidence.  This evidence will help to prove what has been going on and assist in the application for a protective order, should you choose to apply.

Rely on trusted people.  Rely on trusted friends and family in order to help yourself feel safer and also reduce the feelings of isolation and desperation often associated with victims of stalking.  Friends may also assist in ways to make the stalking affect the victim less.  For example, friends can pick up and sort the victim’s mail, help screen phone calls, or tell the police if the stalker shows up.

Think about your technology.  Stalkers are using technology at an increasing rate.  Stalkers use the internet to contact or post things about the victim on message boards or discussion forums, or make threatening gestures through chat rooms.  Many times, stalkers will send the victims spam to fill their inbox or send computer viruses.  Stalkers have also been known to install Spyware software that sends them a copy of every keystroke make, including passwords, websites, and emails.  The use of GPS in cell phones is also a tool stalkers use to discover the location of their victim.

Be careful about giving out personal information.  Your stalker may be looking for a way to find out your protected personal information.  For example, one stalker learned of his victim’s new address by asking for it at the local oil change station where the victim serviced her car.  You should consider instruction businesses not to give out any personal information.

Don’t interact with the person stalking or harassing you.  By responding to their actions, the stalker may escalate his/her behavior.

Help a Friend:

If you have a friend who is being stalked, here are some tips for helping them through this trauma.

Listen.  Be there for your friend and take the matter seriously.  They are going through a traumatic emotional experience.

Remember the victim is not responsible for the stalker’s behavior.  Don’t blame the victim for something the stalker does.

Encourage your friend to report the stalking to law enforcement.  Your friends can file a cease and desist request, a protective order, an anti-stalking restraining order, and/or a police report.

Look for resources.  Let your friend know what resources are available for them in the community.  For example, a victim advocate would be greatly beneficial in assisting the victim through this process and developing a safety plan.

Know local and state laws.  The more you know about stalking, the better you can help your friend through this traumatic experience.

  1. I’m not sure how I happened upon your blog/ website – probably cross referencing on a different matter – However, I applaud Your effort & apparent passion for the subject. I believe that sexual violence, domestic violence, & stalking are primarily private safety issues, & secondarily public safety issues. Most people tend to rely too heavily on public safety agencies for help. Why is that a problem??? For starters, the reaction time. I have developed a process called B.L.O.C.K.E.D. that addresses the gaps in these types of violence issues.

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