According to the Office for Victims of Crime, stalking is “virtually any unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear.”
Stalking of an intimate partner can take place during the relationship—with intense monitoring of the partner’s activities—or after a break-up.
The stalker may be trying to get their partner back, or they may wish to harm their ex as punishment for their departure.
Stalkers employ a number of threatening tactics, including:
- Making repeated phone calls, sometimes with hang-ups.
- Following and tracking the victim (possibly even with a global positioning device).
- Sending unwanted packages, cards, gifts, or letters.
- Monitoring the victim’s phone calls or computer use.
- Watching the victim with hidden cameras.
- Contacting friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors for information about the victim.
- Using public records, online searching, or paid investigators to find their victim.
- Threatening to hurt the victim or their family, friends, or pets.
- Going through the victim’s possessions or garbage.
- Damaging the victim’s home, car, or other property.
Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet, email, phone texting or phone spying to stalk another person.
Cyberstalking may be an additional form of stalking, or it may be the only method the abuser employs.
Cyberstalking is deliberate, persistent, and personal.
A cyberstalker methodically finds and contacts the victim, leaving messages that may be disturbing and inappropriate. The more you protest or respond, the more rewarded the cyberstalker feels.
The best response to cyberstalking is to ignore all attempts at communication. However, cyberstalking can progress to in-person stalking and physical violence, so you must treat it seriously and protect yourself.
Stalking is unpredictable and should always be considered dangerous.
Stalking can end in violence whether or not the stalker threatens to harm you. This can happen even if the stalker has no history of violence.
Additionally, female stalkers are just as likely to become violent as are male stalkers. Those around the stalking victim are also in danger of being hurt. For instance, a parent, spouse, or bodyguard who makes the stalking victim unattainable may be hurt or killed as the stalker pursues the object of his or her obsession.
Seek help immediately if someone is tracking you, contacting you when you do not wish to have contact, or frightening you.