What Is Stalking?
Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
- 46% of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next.
California Penal Code Section 646.9 states stalking can be 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.
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.
- About half (46%) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week, and 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more.
What Is Cyberstalking?
There are an increasing number of programs and devices that stalkers can use in order to harass or monitor their victims:
- 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 victim’s passwords and personal information.
- 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.
- Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyber-stalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).
Who May Be A Victim
Both women and men can be victims of stalking.
- Women were at greater risk than men for stalking victimization; however, women and men were equally likely to experience harassment
A stalker may be someone you know or could be a stranger and behavior may escalate into more frequent or threatening contacts as time goes on.
- Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.
If You Are A Victim
A victim should not wait for stalking behavior to escalate before taking action.
- Initially, tell the person who is making unwanted contact with you not to contact you anymore.
- If the unwanted contact continues, it is important that you do not engage with the stalker in any way or respond to any of his/her attempts to contact you.
- Let your friends, family and employer know that you are being stalked.
- Call the police and make a report. You may also get a restraining order against the person.
- Victims are the most important source of information to an investigation. A victim should document every contact and stalking-related behavior in order to help authorities build a case against the stalker.
- Keep all evidence and turn it over to police.
- Stalking Resource Center
- State of California – Office of the Attorney General
- Go to the 1800VICTIMS.org homepage to find resources in your county including Victim Assistance Centers and local law enforcement agencies.
- All statistics from: Katrina Baum, Stalking Victimization in the United States, Bureau of Justice Statistics, (2009)