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Stalking & Harassment – Guide to understanding stalking

You don't have to be a celebrity or someone in the public eye to have a stalker. It's not always easy to know how to handle it when you're being pursued by an unwanted person, and there are many steps that can be taken if they decide to escalate their behavior. This post will cover what types of people typically become stalkers, some warning signs that should make you worry about your safety and how stalking is different than other types of harassment. We'll also talk about what you can do if this happens to you, including seeking legal help from a qualified professional.


Woman walking in market being stalked and harassed
Stalking is a pervasive crime.



What is stalking and harassment? Stalking is when another person makes every effort, despite your best attempts to stop them, to make contact with you in a variety of ways. Stalkers often use social media, show up at your place of employment, gps track your vehicle and other methods to harass you until they get what they want — your feedback.


Immediate Things You Should Understand About Stalking and Harassment

Victims of stalking and harassment often face unique and ongoing threats to their safety, privacy, and well-being. It's important to address these situations with a serious and informed approach. Here are some resources and steps you might consider if you or someone you know is dealing with stalking or harassment:


Immediate Safety Measures

  • Contact Local Law Enforcement: If you're in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency number. Law enforcement can provide protection, intervention, and advice on legal recourse.

  • Document Everything: Keep a record of all incidents, including dates, times, places, and descriptions of what happened. Save emails, texts, notes, voicemails, and any other evidence you have.

Legal Action

  • Restraining Orders: A restraining or protective order is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another. It can also include other conditions such as staying away from the victim’s home/work and not contacting them.

  • Legal Assistance: Contact a lawyer who specializes in stalking or harassment cases. Some organizations provide free or low-cost legal help.

Support and Counseling

  • National Helplines: Use helplines to find advice and support.

  • In the United States, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 provides support and can guide you to resources for stalking victims.

  • VictimConnect Resource Center offers a confidential helpline for victims of crime at 1-855-484-2846.

  • Counseling Services: Professional counseling can help you cope with the emotional and psychological aftermath of stalking. You might access these services through local community centers, health services, or private practitioners.

Online and Digital Safety

  • Online Safety Planning: Organizations like the National Network to End Domestic Violence offer resources on internet and tech safety for stalking victims.

  • Cyberstalking: If you’re dealing with online harassment, change all your passwords, update security on your social media accounts, and report incidents to the platform operators. Law enforcement agencies can also advise on cyberstalking cases.

Educational Resources

  • Community Seminars and Workshops: These events can offer education about stalking and harassment and can be a good way to meet others who have been through similar experiences.

  • Awareness Campaigns: Participating in or following awareness campaigns can provide additional information and support, and also help to change the public perception and laws related to stalking and harassment.

Support Networks

  • Friends and Family: Keep loved ones informed about your situation. They can provide emotional support and help watch for any suspicious activity.

  • Peer Support Groups: Speaking with others who have experienced stalking can be comforting and provide practical advice.

Privacy Protection

  • Personal Information: Be vigilant about how your personal information is shared. This can include securing your social security number, phone number, and public records. Companies like privacy protection services may help remove your information from the internet or public access.

Specialized Organizations

  • Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC): SPARC ensures that all victims of stalking have access to multi-disciplinary services and support. They provide information on understanding stalking behaviors, safety planning, and connecting with local resources.

Remember, stalking is a crime, and it's essential to take it seriously. Seek help, stay safe, and know that there are resources and people willing to support you.


What You Should Know About Stalking

f you suspect that you are being stalked, it is important to look for signs of this behavior. Some common signs include:

  • Unwanted contact, such as phone calls or emails

  • Being followed or watched

  • Receiving unwanted gifts or messages

  • Being threatened or intimidated

Definition of Stalking

According to the not for profit organization, Safe Horizon, a victim assistance organization in New York. stalking can exhibit these 4 behaviors:

  • Repeated calls, text messages, e-mails, or posts via social media

  • Following the victim or showing up where they are (e.g., near home, work, school, or other places the victim might frequent)

  • Using technology to track, find out and/or disseminate personal information about the victim

  • Threatening to hurt the victim and/or people they come in contact with

Legal Understanding of Stalking

Legal definitions of stalking vary in the United States. It is generally considered stalking when a person knowingly with malice or intent, harasses another person by contacting them repeatedly, following them, gathering intelligence about them lying-in-wait and all in a nonconsensual manner.


Most states may require that there are more than one incident to show a pattern of behavior that does not point or isolate it to a one time occurrence in order to be considered stalking. This is where hiring a private investigator may help you in the documentation of the matter.


A course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visula or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written or implied threats, or a combination there of, that would cause a reasonable person fear - Department of Justice

 

Types of Stalkers

Dr. Ronald M. Holmes, professor emeritus of criminology, puts forth that the following 7 categories are the most definitive types of stalkers: