What is Stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of behavior that involves repeated, unwanted contacts with or following of another person.
This can take many different forms, but typically stalking involves making direct or indirect threats to the safety of the victim, either verbally or through electronic communications such as email or social media.
Stalking behavior may also involve leaving or sending unwanted items or presents to the victim, or trying to manipulate them in some way (for example, by trying to get them to meet someone or see them in a different light). While stalking most often takes place in the context of a relationship between two people (such as current or former romantic partners), it can also occur in other situations, such as between family members or friends.
What are the three elements of stalking?
Stalking is a criminal behavior that can be defined as repeated, unwanted attention or communication from someone you don’t know. The three elements of stalking are:
- The stalker must be aware of the victim’s fear of him or her.
- The stalker must repeatedly pursue the victim over a period of time (3 months or more) after becoming aware of his or her fear.
- The stalker must follow, place under surveillance, or contact the victim in a way that is unreasonable under the circumstances.
Stalking is a misdemeanor in California. Aggravated stalking is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years. If the victim of a violent crime is also stalked, the crime is automatically elevated to aggravated stalking.
Early Signs of Intimate Partner Stalking
There is no one definitive way to know if someone is stalking you, but there are some early warning signs that you should be aware of. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following, it may be time to talk to someone about your concerns:
- A partner is controlling, and always wants to know where you are and what you’re doing. 2. Your partner is obsessive about checking up on you and being in constant communication.
- You begin to notice things that seem strange, like objects out of place or changes in your appearance that make you feel insecure.
- You receive unexplained gifts or money and begin receiving phone calls from people you don’t know at all.
- You are followed everywhere you go by people who look exactly like your partner or people who look like they have just seen him/her before.
- You are harassed and/or threatened in other ways on a regular basis.
- You feel constantly paranoid that someone is out to get you.
- You have received threats from your partner saying that he or she will kill himself/herself if you leave him/her or if you tell others about the abuse.
- There has been physical and/or sexual violence in your relationship.
- You have started seeing a therapist about your relationship because you want out of the relationship but your partner won’t agree to let you leave, or even if you want to end the relationship on your own.
- You have been stalked by someone you know and trust in the past, such as a friend or family member.
- You have been physically assaulted more than once by the same person.
- You have had someone break into your house and steal your things.
- You’ve been receiving threatening messages, emails, calls, etc.
- You’ve received a package that you weren’t expecting, from someone you don’t know, with no return address or contact information.
- You have received an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be a government official demanding payment for taxes or other fees, often accompanied by a threat to arrest or sue you if you don’t pay right away.
- Someone you know well is acting strangely and seems upset when you are not around.
- Someone you know well has suddenly lost interest in his or her hobbies, job, friends, and family for no apparent reason.
- Someone you know well has started acting in ways he or she has never done before, behaving in ways that are inappropriate for the person’s age or situation.
- Your partner tells you that he or she is being followed by someone who looks like him or her but no one has seen them yet.
- Your partner tells you that they have seen you on the news, in the newspaper, or on the Internet even though you have never seen yourself anywhere other than at home with your family or in a doctor’s office.
- The guilt you feel as a result of being in an abusive relationship is overwhelming at times.
- You feel as though you are a burden to your family because of all of your medical issues resulting from your abusive relationship.
- You are so depressed and angry that you cannot stop crying all the time or focusing your attention on ways to get revenge on your partner.
- You feel physically sick every time you think of your past relationship with your partner.
- You feel overwhelmed and helpless most of the time.
- You feel that you no longer have the strength to deal with all the problems in your life by yourself.
- You are afraid of your partner because he/she tends to overreact to any disagreement that you have with him/her.
- You are afraid of your partner because you feel that he/she has control over your life and he/she can change it whenever he wants to do so.
- You are afraid of your partner because he/she controls all of the finances in the family and you don’t know what bills you have to pay or what you can afford to spend on the necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing, utilities, transportation, etc.
The Effects of Stalking
Stalking is a serious criminal offense that has severe psychological and physical effects on the victim. It is a crime in which an individual willfully follows, monitors, or harasses another person without consent.
The effects of stalking range from mild to severe, and can last for years or even a lifetime depending on the situation. The effects can include psychological effects, such as fear and anxiety, as well as physical effects, such as bruises, scratches, and cuts from trying to break free of the stalker’s grip.
It can also lead to depression and post-traumatic stress, which are serious psychological disorders that can cause lasting harm to the victim. Many victims of stalking develop PTSD and have to endure years of treatment in order to recover.
There are many different types of stalking.
The most common type of stalking is criminal stalking, which involves repeated harassment of an individual by someone who does not have a legitimate relationship with them but has developed a psychological obsession with them.
Although this type of stalking is illegal in most states, it is often difficult to prosecute because the stalker is so hard to track down.
What To Do If You Think You’re Being Stalked
There are a few things that you can do if you think that someone is stalking you.
- The first thing is to talk to someone about it – a friend, family member, or trusted professional.
- If the stalking is happening online, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
- You can also contact your local police department to report the stalking.
- Finally, you can take steps to protect yourself from physical attacks. For example, if you live in a high-risk area, you can place motion-sensitive lights in your yard that turn on when someone comes close at night. If the stalker shows up at work, call the police.
- If they are a neighbor, ask them to stop. If they cannot stop the behavior themselves, they may contact the authorities.