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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:

Stalking of a woman - private investigator
Serial predators who stalk may begin as lust stalkers

  • Domestic: stalking a former spouse or paramour. This is the most prevalent kind of stalking and one which can manifest in the workplace, putting innocent bystanders at risk.

  • Lust: serial predators who stalk victim after victim. Serial rapists and murderers may begin as lust stalkers. For example, Ted Bundy.

  • Love-Scorned: an acquaintance, coworker, neighbor, etc. who desires an intimate relationship with the victim, but is rebuffed. (A sub-type of the love-scorned stalker is someone with the delusional disorder erotomania. This type of stalker—usually female—believes her target is madly in love with her. The woman who repeatedly broke into David Letterman’s home and stole his car, claiming to be his wife, is one example.)

  • Celebrity: those who stalk famous people. For example, John Hinckley.

  • Political: stalking motivated by political beliefs, which could include either agreement or disagreement with the victim. For example, Sirhan Sirhan.

  • Hit (murder for hire): stalking of a victim by a hired killer in order to commit murder.

  • Revenge: an angry former employee, an aggrieved business partner, a resentful neighbor, a vindictive relative, or any other person—usually known to the victim—whose motive for stalking is payback. One example is the ex-con Max Cady in the movie, Cape Fear, who stalks Sam Bowden, the lawyer who represented him at trial..


What To Do If You Suspect You Are Being Stalked

1. If you are being stalked, contact the police and file a report

2. Change your phone number to an unlisted or unpublished number

3. Install security cameras in public areas of your home

4. Stay alert - if someone is following you, cross the street and change directions

5. Keep your car locked at all times - don't leave it running unattended for any length of time

6. Don't give out personal information to strangers on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter

7. Speak with bonafide privacy experts that can help you find privacy amongst the chaos


Top 10 Things To Do When You Have a Stalker - Security Plan

Once you realize that you may be the victim of a stalker, you need to create a plan to manage your safety. We also highly recommend you talk to the people at Redact a privacy company that helps victims of stalking get privacy and anonymity. Follow these steps:


  1. Trust your gut. Don’t brush it off as nothing. Your instinctive feeling on the matter is most likely correct. Assume it really is happening.

  2. Take a partner. Let a close friend know immediately. Give them the written details that say who you think it is, what information you have on them, such as phone number, address, license plate number, etc. This is imperative!

  3. Go to the police, let them analyze whether there is enough information for them to work up a case. Have everything written down and be succinct in what you share with them so that they take the matter seriously.

  4. If you are not getting much help from the police, then hire a private investigator. They will give your matter the attention and detail you are paying for.

  5. Vary your daily routine as much as possible

  6. Ride share to work. Try not to travel alone.

  7. Consider how your stalker might know your next steps and avoid doing those things

  8. We recommend no leisure social media until the matter is resolved.

  9. It goes without saying…Do not engage at all with the stalker. Do not try to reason with them. It will only make the matter worse.

  10. Check your motor vehicle for any GPS tracking. A licensed private investigator can do this in a few hours.

  11. Dump social media. Really, we can't emphasize this enough. Social media leaves a trail that can give your stalker location data and ore other impetus in their desire to stalk you.


Take a Professional Stalking Risk Assessment

SHARP is a threat assessment tool that assess stalking. It was created by the University of Kentucky, Behavioral Health Outcome Studies.


You can take the threat assessment on line with the 48 questions asked in the program. This will help look at the totality of the situation in determining if you are dealing with a stalker.


Some of the assessment deals with physical harm or sexual assault, life sabotage and more.


This important assessment tool is give to our clients in order to better understand their situation and have a basis for any private investigation work we do.




 

Scope of the Stalking Problem


CDC graphic on stalking in USA
Source: Center for Disease Control

Most Common Perpetrators of Stalking

Female victims usually had known their stalker according to this report. Which states in part:


” The most common perpetrators were current or former intimate partners (43.4%) and acquaintances (40.6%) during the victims’ lifetimes (see Figure 3 and Table 6). Almost 19 percent of female victims (18.7%) reported that a stranger was their stalker. Other perpetrators were reportedly family members (8.6%), persons with whom they had

a brief encounter (8.0%), and persons of authority (3.7%) (see Table 6). In the 12 months prior to the survey, 37.2% of female victims were stalked by an acquaintance, 35.5% by a current or former intimate partner, 14.8% by a stranger, 9.7% by a family member, and 6.9% by a brief encounter (Table 6). Twelve-month estimates for perpetrators in positions of authority were not statistically stable.”


These are alarming statistics. This means that 4 out of 10 stalking cases the stalker was from a former relationship. This is a statistic that should be taken very seriously and another reason why a private investigator should be conducting a background check on anyone you plan to spend time with in an intimate relationship.


Most Common Age When First Becoming a Victim of Stalking

When we think of stalking, it is easy to think of a person with some sort of notoriety as the person who has a stalker. But what if I told you it is quite possible that your daughter has been stalked. Yes, your young daughter, sister, or niece is very likely to have dealt with a stalker.


The second largest group of people who have been stalked is the 18-24 year olds With 31% of females in this age group having reported a stalker. Under 18 years old comes in at a whopping 23% of adolescents and younger have dealt with a stalker.


The largest category in the CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2016/2017 says that women over 25 years of age have been victims at 41% of the time.


Victims knew their perpetrators. Most common stalker is a old flame or someone you once met.

With these statistics, it is easy to understand how important it is for a parent to know their children well. Even when your child is a young adult, it is never a bad idea to have the conversation on this topic of stalking. Asking someone you love if they are dealing with this issue could save their life.


Around 40% of stalking incidents go unreported. Help get those numbers up so more people are protected. Share this article.


Technology Related Stalking Is Growing Fast!

At the outset of this article we briefly touched on the use of GPS or hacking as a method stalkers use to gather intelligence about your life.


Technology is not the problem. Just like guns don’t kill people. Sick people kill people. And sick people can initiate stalking another person. But, technology is a tool that is used to initiate the stalking through technology surveillance.


What Is Technology Surveillance?

Technology surveillance is the use of a mobile phone, a GPS tracker, social media stalking, and hacking.


It has been reported that 97% of app developers are aware that their products are used to control, intimidate and harass another person.


The Pew Research Center reported that 41% of Americans have reported to have experienced online harassment which includes:

  • Offensive name-calling

  • Purposeful embarrassment

  • Stalking

  • Physical threats

  • Harassment over a sustained period of time

  • Sexual harassment


Pew research center graph online harassment
Pew Research Center - 41% experience online harassment

How You Can Prevent Technology Surveillance Stalking

Honestly, this may come as a surprise to many but having some privacy in your life is not such a bad thing.


We are giving every bit of our life away in order to become half human and half computer. Get rid of as much technology as you can. Many will scoff at this, but like all pure, honest, true, chaste things in life technology — although well meaning (or started that way) is the reason people know where you live, can look up your birthdate, find where you work, track your whereabouts.


Stop feeding the monster. Mark my words, this is what you need to do to cut the head off the snake. You need to really evaluate what your technology is used for, how important the 200 apps on your phone are, what you are sharing to the world, etc.


This is the only way to stop technology related stalking. Other methods may include hardening your current processes to ensure intrusion is not an issue, and that is best done by a cyber security investigator.


Protecting Yourself from Stalking

If you are being stalked, it is important to take steps to protect yourself. Some tips for protecting yourself include:

  • Keeping a record of all incidents

  • Telling someone you trust about what is happening

  • Changing your routine to avoid the stalker

  • Getting a restraining order

  • Installing security measures, such as locks and alarms

  • Get privacy by contacting these privacy consultants

Reporting Stalking

If you are being stalked, it is important to report it to the police. They will take steps to investigate the matter and bring the stalker to justice. It is also important to keep a record of all incidents and to provide this information to the police. This will help them build a case against the stalker and ensure that they are held accountable for their actions.


How Private Investigators Can Help You With a Stalker?

Stalkers are often someone the victim knows. If the person is unknown, a private investigator can help you make a determination as to who the person may be. Private investigators often find that the stalker may have a history of violence and abuse.


If you hire a private investigator, they can check backgrounds, provide counter-surveillance and protect you with our physical presence. Private investigators can also provide you with security and privacy consulting.


Once a private investigator has developed a strong case they can speak with authorities about the situation. A private investigator can help you identify your stalker, gather evidence against them, and protect you from harm.


If your stalking is in any way related to domestic abuse, it's imperative that you seek assistance from law enforcement immediately!


FAQs

  1. What is considered stalking? Stalking is defined as a repeated pattern of behavior that is directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. This behavior can take many forms, including following, spying, harassing phone calls, and sending unwanted gifts or emails.

  2. What are the signs of being stalked? Common signs of being stalked include unwanted contact, such as phone calls or emails, being followed or watched, receiving unwanted gifts or messages, and being threatened or intimidated.

  3. What are the effects of stalking? Stalking can have serious effects on the victim, including fear and anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, and physical harm in extreme cases.

  4. How can I protect myself from being stalked? You can protect yourself from being stalked by keeping a record of all incidents, telling someone you trust, changing your routine to avoid the stalker, getting a restraining order, and installing security measures such as locks and alarms.

  5. What should I do if I am being stalked? If you are being stalked, it is important to report it to the police and to keep a record of all incidents. You can also reach out to trusted friends and family members for support, and consider getting a restraining order to keep your stalker away from you. Additionally, you can take steps to protect yourself, such as changing your routine, installing security measures, and seeking help from a mental health professional if needed.


In Conclusion

If you are being stalked, it is important to take action. Private investigators have the expertise and experience to help guide you through this difficult process. Stalking can be a frightening thing for victims of stalking, but detectives are here to make sure that your fears don’t come true, and can offer you the peace of mind that comes with knowing what steps need to be taken in order to put an end on someone's unwanted attention.


Are you dealing with a stalking situation? If so, let us know in the comments and get help!



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