Stalking / Anti-Stalking: How to Protect Yourself from Harm
What is Stalking?
Stalking is defined as a repetitive pattern of unwanted, harassing or threatening behavior that is committed by one person against another. Acts that could be considered stalking include: being physically followed, harassment via telephone, receiving unwanted gifts, and other similar forms of intrusive behavior. Definitions of stalking found in state anti-stalking statutes typically define stalking as “the willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing of another person that threatens his or her safety”.
Cyber-stalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk someone.
Cyber-stalking has been defined as the use of information and communications technology, particularly the Internet, by an individual or group of individuals, to harass another individual, group of individuals, or organization.
Cyber-stalking behavior includes false accusations, monitoring, the transmission of threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sexual purposes, and gathering information for harassment purposes.
The harassment must be such that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress.
Research shows that men are typically the stalkers and the stalking is typically committed between people who know each other. Only one in four cases of stalking are committed by a stranger. Most stalking cases involve a former intimate partner.
Teaching internet safety for children online and other email etiquette guidelines.
Suggestions for Dealing With a Stalker
- Gather as much evidence as possible to document the behavior of the stalker
- Examples of such evidence include: phone records, copies of letters, pictures of injuries, statements from witnesses corroborating the behavior
- Familiarize yourself with the anti-stalking statutes in your state
- Notify local law enforcement and provide them with any evidence you have gathered to help support your claim
- Consider contacting an attorney to discuss obtaining a restraining order against the stalker
- Consider contacting a state agency that provides support to stalking victims
- Develop a plan to keep yourself safe by informing your family members, friends, co-worker, and neighbors
- Have a safe place to go in case of emergency
- Consider changing your phone number to be unlisted to prevent future phone calls
- Program important emergency contact numbers into your cell phone or carry them with you
- Consider obtaining a personal protection device such as mace, pepper spray or a TASER®