Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear (National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center). A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but men do stalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.
Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time.
Some things stalkers do:
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
- Damage your home, car, or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
You are not to blame for a stalker's behavior.
If you are being stalked, you may:
- Feel fear of what the stalker will do.
- Feel vulnerable, unsafe, and not know who to trust.
- Feel anxious, irritable, impatient, or on edge.
- Feel depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, tearful, or angry.
- Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping, or remembering things.
- Have eating problems, such as appetite loss, forgetting to eat, or overeating.
- Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories.
- Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated because other people don't understand why you are afraid.
These are common reactions to being stalked.
If someone you know is being stalked:
Listen. Show support. Don't blame the victim for the crime. Remember that every situation is different, and allow the person being stalked to make choices about how to handle it. Find someone you can talk to about the situation. Take steps to ensure your own safety.
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Trust your instincts. Don't downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you. Click here to learn more about safety plans.
- Don't communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you. with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
- Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Click here to download a stalking incident and behavior log.
- Contact the police. Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
- Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
- Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
National Stalking Awareness Month
The History of National Stalking Awareness Month
In January 2004, the National Center for Victims of Crime launched National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM) to increase the public’s understanding of the crime of stalking. NSAM emerged from the work of the Stalking Resource Center, a National Center program funded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, to raise awareness about stalking and help develop and implement multidisciplinary responses to the crime.
NSAM began in response to a 2003 call to the Stalking Resource Center from Debbie Riddle, the sister of murdered stalking victim Peggy Klinke. Riddle wanted to transform her family’s painful tragedy into a force for good - and to help improve law enforcement’s response to stalking and save lives. Riddle’s call led to a concurrent Congressional resolution on Stalking, a national program on Lifetime Television, hosted by Erin Brockovich, featuring Peggy Klinke’s story and a Lifetime video, “Stalking: Real Fear, Real Crime,” to train law enforcement about the crime. In July 2003, the National Center for Victims of Crime, in partnership with Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Lifetime Television, told Peggy’s story at a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, which focused on strengthening law enforcement’s response to the crime.
That same day, Representative Wilson introduced a Congressional resolution to support National Stalking Awareness Month. The following January, the National Center for Victims of Crime launched the first observance of National Stalking Awareness Month and supported communities across the nation in planning the event.
In 2011, the White House issued the first Presidential Proclamation on National Stalking Awareness Month. President Obama’s proclamation stressed the millions affected by the crime, the often devastating consequences, the difficulty of identifying and investigating the crime, and the federal government’s strong commitment to combating stalking. The 2012 proclamation elaborated on the dangers of stalking, and the importance of NSAM in building awareness about the crime.
In 2012, during National Stalking Awareness Month, the White House convened its first-ever National Roundtable on Stalking, bringing together survivors, law enforcement officers, victim advocates, and researchers, to advance knowledge of the crime and help the federal government combat the crime.
The National Stalking Awareness Month website (www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org), launched in January 2009, provides a wealth of information about the crime and about the nationwide observance. Information about NSAM is also available on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/pages/National- Stalking-Awareness-Month/112815125149) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/SRC_NCVC). Both sites have generated great interest and sharing about how communities throughout the country observe NSAM.