According to the Office on Violence Against Women, stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Stalking is a crime under the laws of all 50 states and the federal government. As many as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men have experienced stalking at some point during their life and often the stalker is someone the person knows.

Stalking Examples

  • Repeated, unwanted, intrusive, and frightening communications from someone by phone, mail, and/or email.
  • Repeatedly leaving or sending someone unwanted items, presents, or flowers.
  • Following or laying in wait for the person at places such as home, school, work, or recreation place.
  • Making direct or indirect threats to harm the person, their children, relatives, friends, or pets.
  • Damaging or threatening to damage the individual's property.
  • Harassing someone through the internet or other technology.
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about the person on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
  • Obtaining personal information about the person by accessing public records, using internet search services, hiring private investigators, going through their garbage, following them, contacting their friends, family, work, or neighbors, etc.

Stalking Continuum

The majority of stalking incidences include multiple avenues of contact. A single act would not cause alarm or discomfort for a reasonable person, but when these acts are repeated the target may begin to feel afraid.‌ Follow this link to download the Stalking Continuum in PDF format.

What To Do If You Are Being Stalked

  • Clearly communicate to the individual making you uncomfortable that their gifts and interactions are unwanted.
  • People experiencing stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker's behavior, but stalking poses a real threat of harm. Your safety is paramount.
  • Call the police if you feel you are in any immediate danger. Explain why even some actions that seem harmless - like leaving you a gift - are causing you fear.
  • Keep a record or log of each contact with the stalker. Be sure to also document any police reports.
  • Stalkers often use technology to contact their victims. Save all e-mails, text messages, photos, and postings on social networking sites as evidence of the stalking behavior.
  • Get connected with local resources to talk through your options and discuss safety concerns.

Source: Stalking Resource Center, National Center for Victims of Crime

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