Stalking is directed at a specific person that would cause reasonable fear. Unlike other crimes that involve a single incident, stalking is a pattern of behaviors. This crime is made up of several escalated acts intended to cause the victim to be on edge. Since stalking can happen to anyone, including you, it is significant to educate yourself, your family and your friends on the warning signs and how you can prevent and protect yourself from a stalker.
The crime of stalking is an unwanted pursuit of another person and is not a one-time event. Stalking is a pattern of behaviors meant to cause harm, distress and fear. This is dangerous for the victim and can become lethal. Stalkers use a variety of actions to frighten, harass and control their victim:
- Following a person;
- Sending unwanted gifts;
- Monitors your phone calls, computer use;
- Uses technology like hidden camera or GPS to track your location;
- Shows up wherever you are;
- Threatens to hurt you, your family, friends or pets;
- Uses other people to try to communicate with you like children, family or friends;
- Persistently calling, texting or emailing; or
- Vandalizing their personal property
Stalking is usually associated with celebrities and the paparazzi, but the vast majority of cases involve domestic partners, estranged spouses, or romantic interests. Stalking charges are often similar to domestic violence charges where one party has intimidated or threaten violence against the other party.
Stalking can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, geographic location, or personal associations. However, statistics show how particular ethnicities have a higher rate of being stalked than others, especially in women. The graph below represents those numbers.
Intimate Partner Stalking
Stalking by an intimate partner is the most dangerous type of stalking. Intimate partner stalkers have an advantage over their victims because they know personal information about the victim. These stalkers also tend to be more interfering and threatening than non-intimate partner stalkers. Alarmingly, a strong link exists between stalking and women who were murdered by their current or former intimate partner.
Using technology to stalk
As technology and digital platforms grow, so does the chance for someone to stalk another person making them feel violated.
One way perpetrators stalk victims is through the use of technology. Cyber-stalking is a type of interaction using cell phones, apps, and social media to monitor your movements. Consider disabling location services and GPS on your phone and computer.
Some uses of technology to stalk:
- Sending unwanted communication through the internet such as spamming someone’s email inbox or social media platform;
- Posting threatening or personal information about someone on the internet;
- Installing video cameras that give the stalker access to someone’s personal life;
- Using GPS or other software tracking systems to monitor someone without their knowledge or consent; or
- Using someone’s computer or spyware to track computer activity
What you can do
- Call 911 for immediate assistance: call for help if you feel like you are in danger;
- Alert others: tell trusted friends or family about your encounters;
- Connect with an advocate: talk to a professional who can connect you with local services;
- Document every incident: make a log of all encounters with the stalker including place, time, messages, hag-up calls, and public sightings;
- End all contact: Try to ignore calls and messages. Any contact may encourage the stalker to continue contacting you;
- Take threats seriously: a threat against you is a sign of danger. The stalker might try to manipulate you into staying in contact or a dangerous situation;
- Create a safety plan: developing a personalized plan can keep you and your family safe; and
- Prepare your children: Teach your children what to do if there is an emergency such as how to contact the police or a neighbor.
The Presidential Message on National Stalking Awareness Month can be accessed here.
If you or a loved one are a victim of stalking and need assistance, 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.
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