Stalking is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most perpetrators 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.
Some things stalkers do:
Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.
Follow you and show up wherever you are.
Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or e-mails.
Damage your home, car, or other property.
Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
Use technology, like hidden cameras or globalpositioning 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 on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
If you're being stalked, you might:
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.
How to protect yourself:
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/survivor tries to leave or end the relationship.
CONTACT VICTIM ADVOCACY SERVICES. We can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, refer you to other services, and weigh options such as seeking a protection order.
Develop a SAFETY PLAN, including things like changing your routes, 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.
DON’T COMMUNICATE 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 e-mails, 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.
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. If you have questions regarding court orders, Victim Advocacy Services can provide further information.
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.
The use of technology to stalk.
Victims/survivors report that stalkers are using many forms of technology - old and new - to control, coerce, and intimidate them during and after relationships. Some stalkers inundate former intimate partners with "dozens of emails and instant messages, often using automated senders and anonymous emailers that make it hard to identify the source" (Lamberg, 2001, Cyberstalking: A Growing Threat).
Different Technology Sources Perpetrators Commonly Use to Stalk:
Cellular & Wireless Telephones
Global Positioning Systems
Computer & Internet Technology
Computer Monitoring Software
Keystroke Logging Hardware
Email & Instant Messages
Online Databases and Information Brokers
Stalking Incidence Log
National Center for Victims of Crime: Stalking Resource Center
If you are being stalked, it may be helpful to keep a log of all stalking behaviors, including e-mails and phone messages. The log, as well as any gifts or letters the stalker sends you, can be collected and used as evidence. The evidence will help prove what has been going on if you decide to report the stalking to the police or apply for a protective order.