Definition of Stalking
While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
- 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked each year in the United States.
- 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
- 29% of stalking victims fear the stalking will never stop.
- 3 in 4 stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.
- 30% of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
- 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
- 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through use of some form of technology (such as e-mail or instant messaging).
- 10% of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and 8% report being monitored through video or digital cameras or listening devices.
- 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result of their victimization and more than half lose 5 days of work or more.
- 1 in 7 stalking victims more as a result of their victimization.
- The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves being followed or having one's property destroyed.
- 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once a week, many daily, using more than one method.
- Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 in 5 cases.
- Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before.
Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide
- 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by their intimate partner.
- 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
- 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their stalkers.
What to do if you suspect you are being stalked...
- The first thing one should do is to tell the unrequited person that no further contact of any kind is allowed.
- As early as possible, tell him/her that the relationship is over.
- Be as firm, assertive and direct as possible.
- Avoid using tones or phrases that could be misconstrued as implying a second chance or playing hard to get. Oftentimes, when the victim tries to "be nice" and to "spare the feelings" of the person being rejected, the unrequited lover sometimes perceives mixed messages.
- Be respectful.
- Discipline yourself to avoid contact with the stalker: This includes ANY and ALL contact (calling to ask for someone else's phone number, counter-harassing, sending letters back) which could easily be misinterpreted by the stalker.
- Documentation is one of the most important aspects of stalking threat management. For a sample stalking logbook, click here.
Learn more about...
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Stalking victimization in the United States
Stalking Safety Plan Guidelines
Use of technology to stalk
Stalking laws by state
Stalking Protective Orders
To learn more about stalking, watch Stalking: Real Fear, Real Crime or Links in the Chain.