What is Stalking?

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.

While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking is a dangerous crime that affects 3.4 million adults in the United States each year.

Stalking can include:

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

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

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This project was supported in part by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program contract No. 2015G991540 and by Grant No. 2014-MU-AX-1204 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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