Stalking is a series of unwanted, harassing behaviors which is a serious and often violent crime leaving victims feeling on edge. Each year, 7.5 million people are victims of stalking in the United States.

There are various ways a person can stalk you. Learn the forms of stalking below.

  • Repeatedly calling you
  • Following you
  • Showing up wherever you are
  • Sending unwanted gifts, letters, texts or emails
  • Damaging your home, car or other property
  • Monitoring you phone calls or computer use
  • Driving by your home, school or work
  • Threatening to hurt you, your family or pets
  • Learning more about you by using public records or an online search

The use of technology to stalk

As technology advances, so does the opportunity for perpetrators to keep a close eye on others. One growing and common way for stalkers to prey on their victims is through the internet. As scary as it sounds, cyberstalking refers to persistently sending unwanted communication through the internet, posting threatening or personal information, videoing or installing video cameras giving access to one’s personal life, using GPS to track someone without their consent, or using someone’s computer or spyware to track their computer activity. Technology has increased the changes of digital platforms to become the outlet for stalking behavior. These behaviors can make anyone feel violated and uncomfortable.

Psychological, physical and social impacts

Victimization has led experts to understand the psychological, physical and social impacts stalking has on people’s lives. The impact of stalking may vary depending on the victim’s current circumstances, how they are dealing with the situation and the information they know or do not know about the person stalking them. Research has demonstrated that there are common patterns of response.

Psychological impacts

  • Denial
  • Frustration
  • Self-blame
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Defaulting concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • PTSD
  • Flashbacks
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Physical impacts

  • Fatigue from difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Chronic stress such as headaches
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Physical injuries
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating

Social, school or job related impacts

  • Deteriorating school or work performance
  • Increased sick leave
  • Leaving job or getting fired
  • Changing careers
  • Dropping out of school
  • Insecure
  • Inability to trust others
  • Problems with physical and emotional intimacy
  • Isolation
  • Withdrawing from others

Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.

  • Report it: If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Trust your instincts: Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel unsafe, take threats seriously.
  • Contact a crisis hotline: There are many resources out there that provide victim services. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, and refer you to other services.
  • Create a safety plan: Include things such as changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, or have a friend go with you to places.
  • Plan in advance: Plan for times when you stalker shows up at your home, school or work.
  • Don’t communicate: Do not communicate with your stalker if they attempt to talk to you.
  • Keep the evidence: Write down when the stalker contacts you or follows you. Photograph anything your stalker damages or any of the injuries the stalker causes.
  • Know the laws: Every state has stalking laws. Consider getting a court order that tells your stalker to stay away from you.
  • Tell people: Tell family, friends and coworkers about the stalking to seek their support. Tell security staff at your school or work and ask them to look out for your safety.

If you would like to access more resources on stalking, please visit The United States Department of Justice website.

If you or a loved one is being stalked, please visit The National Center for Victims of Crime or call 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846).

If you or a loved one are in need of an attorney or would like to explore other resources, you can utilize if they are being abused, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org.