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Stalking

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.

Cyberstalking

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.

  • 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.

Statistics on Stalking

  • 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.
  • Women were at greater risk than men for stalking victimization; however, women and men were equally likely to experience harassment.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyber stalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).
  • 46% of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.

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

Resources for victims of stalking…

  • Stalking Resource Center
    2000 M. St. NW, Suite 480
    Washington DC, 20036
    Phone: 202-467-8700
    Fax: 202-467-8701
    Web: www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center
  • State of CA – Office of the Attorney General
    P.O. Box 944255
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
    Phone: (800) 952-5225
    Fax: (916)323-5341

Go to the 1800VICTIMS.org 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:
www.vcgcb.ca.gov/victims/stalking.aspx

or contact the California Victim Compensation Program:
California Victim Compensation & Government Claims Board
Phone: 1-800-777-9229
Web: www.vcgcb.ca.gov