January is National Stalking Awareness Month, check out the following fact sheet on stalking violence from the National Center for Victims of Crime.
What is it?
Stalking is a pattern of behavior that makes you feel afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. It is when someone repeatedly contacts you, follows you, sends you things, talks to you when you don’t want them to, or threatens you. Stalking behaviors can include:
- Writing letters
- Damaging your property
- Knowing your schedule
- Showing up at places you go
- Sending mail, e-mail, and pictures
- Creating a website about you
- Sending gifts
- Stealing things that belong to you
- Calling you repeatedly
- Or any other actions that the stalker takes to contact, harass, track, or frighten you.
You can be stalked by someone you know casually, a current boyfriend or girlfriend, someone you dated in the past, or a stranger. Getting notes and gifts at your home, in your locker, or other places might seem sweet and harmless to other people. But if you don’t want the gifts, phone calls, messages, letters, e-mails it doesn’t feel sweet or harmless. It can be scary and frustrating.
Sometimes people stalk their boyfriends or girlfriends while they’re dating. They check up on them, page or call them all the time and expect instant responses, follow them, and generally keep track of them even when they haven’t made plans to be together. These stalking behaviors can be part of an abusive relationship. If this is happening to you or someone you know, you should talk to someone.
Stalking is a crime and can be dangerous. The legal definition of stalking and possible punishment for it changes from state to state. Contact a victim service provider or your local police to learn about stalking laws in your state are and how you can protect yourself.
- Feel helpless, anxious, fearful, angry or depressed
- Feel like you can never get away from the stalker
- Think the stalker is always watching you
- Feel frustrated that the stalker won’t leave you alone
- Have difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Have nightmares
- Lose or gain weight
- Not know what might happen next
- 1,006,970 women and 370, 990 are stalked annually in the United States.
- 77 percent of female and 64 percent of male victims know their stalker.
- Most victims are stalked for 1.8 years.
- 82 percent of stalkers who pursued female victims followed them, spied on them, stood outside their home, place of work, or recreation; 61 percent of stalkers made unwanted phone calls; 33 percent sent or left unwanted letters or items; 29 percent percent vandalized property; and 9 percent killed or threatened to kill a family pet.
If you are stalked, it is not your fault. Stalkers are responsible for their behavior, not the victims. If you believe that someone is stalking you, you can:
- Contact the police.
- Tell your parent, friend, school principal or another person you can trust.
- If you don’t know where to go for help, contact us at 1-800-FYI-CALL or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think about ways you can be safer. This means thinking about what to do, where to go for help, and who to call ahead of time
- Where can you go for help?
- Who can you call?
- Who will help you?
- How will you escape a violent situation?
Here are other things you can do:
- Let friends or family members know when you are afraid or need help.
- When you go out, tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back.
- In an emergency call 911 or your local police department.
- Memorize the phone numbers of people to contact or places to go in an emergency.
- Keep spare change, calling cards, or a cell phone handy.
- Save notes, letters or other items that the stalker sends to you and keep a record of all contact that the stalker has with you. These items will be very useful to the police.
- If you choose to tell, you should know that some adults are mandated reporters. This means they are legally required to report neglect or abuse to someone else, like the police or child protective services. You can ask people if they are mandated reporters and then decide what you want to do. Some examples of mandated reporters are teachers, counselors, doctors, social workers, and in some cases, even coaches or activity leaders. If you want to help deciding who to talk to, call our Helpline at 1-800-FYI-CALL, or an anonymous crisis line in your area. You might also want to talk to a trusted family member, a friend’s parent, an adult neighbor or friend, an older sibling or cousin, or other experienced person who you trust.
- If you want to get advice about who to talk to, call our helpline (1-800-FYI-CALL) or an anonymous crisis hotline in your area. You might also want to talk to a trusted family member, a friend’s parent, an adult neighbor or friend, an older sibling or cousin, or other experienced person who you trust.
If you know someone who is being stalked, you can:
- Encourage your friend to seek help
- Be a good listener
- Offer your support
- Ask how you can help
- Educate yourself about stalking
- Avoid any confrontations with the stalker. This could be dangerous for you and your friend.
- …about stalking, read our GET HELP Series bulletins on stalking, protective orders, a stalking safety plan, and stalking log.
- …about dating violence, read our GET HELP Series bulletins on domestic violence, stalking, and teen dating violence.
This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, in its entirety and includes this notice.
The National Center for Victims of Crime
2000 M Street, NW Suite 480 Washington, DC 20036
ph: (202) 467-8700 fx: (202) 467-8701