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What is stalking?

According to the National Stalking Resource Center, stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would case a reasonable person to feel fear.

According to California Penal Code Section 646.9, stalking (paraphrased) is repeatedly following, harassing, and/or threatening another person to the point where that individual fears for his/her safety or the safety of his/her family.

A stalker may be someone you know or could be a stranger. Both women and men can be victims of stalking. A stalker may use a variety of behaviors in order to terrorize or harass the victim.  Common stalking behaviors include unwanted contacts like repeated phone calls or texts to the victim (could be non-threatening or threatening), gathering information about the victim, monitoring of the victim’s whereabouts, showing up where the victim lives or works, and computer or video surveillance. The stalkers behavior may escalate into more frequent or threatening contacts as time goes on.


Most stalkers use some form of technology to stalk their victims. There are an increasing number of programs and devices that stalkers can use in order to harass or monitor their victims.

Cell phones - A stalker may use spoofing, which is an internet program that allows a person to alter his/her cell phone number so the victim will not know who is calling. Spoofing programs may also allow a caller to change his/her voice. Remotely installed spyware on a victim’s cell phone allow a stalker to monitor calls, texts and phone activity. GPS systems can also be installed on cell phones, which allow a stalker to know the location of his/her victim.

Computers and Social Networking - A stalker may hack into a computer in order to monitor what the victim is doing. Computer spyware allows the person who installed it to view internet and computer activity and obtain the victims passwords and personal information.

Video Surveillance/GPS  – Video surveillance cameras may be put into a variety of small and undetectable products like pens or stuffed animals and could also be installed in a hidden location inside a house or car. Devices can also be installed in a computer that allows a person to video record the victim while the computer is in use. GPS systems also may be small and portable and could be attached to a car or personal item.

Stalkers may use a variety of methods and devices in order to monitor the victims’ whereabouts and private information. A stalking victim should regularly check electronic devices and computers for any possible indication that they may have been tampered with. 

What to do if you’re being stalked…

A victim should not wait for stalking behavior to escalate before taking action.


Statistics on Stalking

Source: Katrina Baum, Stalking Victimization in the United States, Bureau of Justice Statistics, (2009) 

Resources for victims of stalking…

Go to the homepage to find resources in your county including Victim Assistance Centers and local law enforcement agencies.


You may be eligible for compensation…

The California Victim Compensation Program may be able to help victims who were injured or threatened with physical injury as the result of stalking. See the following link to find out how to apply for compensation:

or contact the California Victim Compensation Program:
California Victim Compensation & Government Claims Board
Phone: 1-800-777-9229

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Tips for Using Technology: It is not possible to delete all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be unsafe to change your computer behaviors, like suddenly deleting your Internet history if that is not your regular habit.

If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for activities, like looking up the weather or reading the news. Use a safer computer, such as a public computer at your local library, to research escape plans, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.

Email and Instant/Text Messaging are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.

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