What is Stalking?
Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Unlike other crimes that involve a single incident, stalking is a pattern of behavior. It is often made up of individual acts that could, by themselves, seem harmless or noncriminal, but when taken in the context of a stalking situation, could constitute criminal acts.
Signs of Stalking
- Does someone always seem to be just around the corner when you are going to work, are out with friends, or in your neighborhood?
- Does someone keep making unwanted phone calls to your home or work?
- Do you find signs that someone has been in or near your home, your car, or your workplace when you were not there?
- Are you receiving repeated letters, gifts, cards, social media posts and/or emails even though you told the sender to stop sending them?
- Has someone tried to get information about you from a third person like a family member, friend, or co-worker?
- Is someone posting information or spreading rumors about you on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth?
What can I do?
- Call 911 for Immediate Assistance – You know yourself and your situation better than anyone. Trust your instincts and call for help if you feel you are in danger.
- Alert Others – Tell trusted friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and/or your HR department to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and so they don’t mistakenly give out information to someone pretending to be a loved one.
- Connect with an Advocate – Advocates can often be found at local domestic violence and/or sexual assault agencies, police departments, and district attorney’s offices. Advocates can help explain local stalking laws, walk you through filing a protective order, connect you with local services, and help you develop a safety plan.
- Document Every Incident – Make a log of encounters with the stalker, hang-up calls, and public sightings. Save all messages, emails, and your call history. Consider using this incident log form from the Stalking Resource Center.
- End All Contact – Sometimes this is easier said than done, but try not to answer calls or messages, even if you are requesting that the stalker stop. Any contact may encourage the stalker to continue the stalking behavior.
- Take Threats Seriously –A direct threat against you is an obvious sign of danger. A stalker can also use threats of suicide or self-harm to manipulate you into staying in contact or a dangerous situation.
- Create a Safety Plan – Develop a personalized plan to keep yourself safe. Find help doing this here or connect with an advocate for assistance.
- Prepare Your Children – Teach your children what to do if there is an emergency, like where to hide if there is danger in the house, or how to call the police or a trusted person for help.
- Be Aware of Using Technology – Sometimes technology like cell phones and social media accounts can be used by someone to monitor your movements. Consider disabling location services and geotags on your phone and photos.