Stalking is a pattern of unwanted behavior that involves repeated harassment or intrusive behavior. Stalking may cause fear, annoyance or anger in the person who is being targeted and cause the person impacted to change their routine or behavior. Sometimes the targeted person may minimize the situation to themselves, though bystanders may see it as dangerous or concerning. Stalking can occur in and out of relationships, between acquaintances or between complete strangers.
Examples of stalking behaviors
• information gathering on the target from their friends, the internet, colleagues etc..
• repeated but unwelcome non-threatening mail, email, pages and phone calls.
• notes or flowers left on target’s car.
• observing/following and “coincidentally” showing up wherever the target goes.
• waiting outside class, work, home or next to the target’s car.
• false reports to authorities, spreading rumors, giving misinformation or secrets to friends, family, professors, or supervisors.
• disparaging messages or images on the internet or other public forums.
• vandalism or destruction of property, sabotage of schoolwork.
• threatening mail, email, notes, text messages and/or phone calls (threats direct, implied or symbolic).
• breaking into home, car, email, etc. and leaving evidence.
Each stalking behavior by itself may or may not be illegal. What matters is that there is a set of behaviors which can have an impact on the targeted individual. The person who is following, watching, or harassing may have various different motives, but the impact is the most important aspect of assessing the situation. Are you or a friend changing your life to avoid or contend with harassment, being followed, or unwanted emails? Regardless of how it happens, support and resources are available.
How can we help?
If you are concerned that you are being stalked, it may be useful to talk with someone who is knowledgeable about the issue like the staff at Response. Response is free and confidential and here as a resource for counseling support, advocacy, informing one of their rights and options, safety planning, emergency and transitional housing and providing information, referrals, and consultation on additional community resources.
Some things you might discuss when meeting with Response include:
• getting information that will help you assess the situation, and figure out what you want.
• discussing your rights and reporting options and helping engage law enforcement if you choose.
• how to manage your work in the face of this behavior.
• making a safety plan with helpful strategies
• getting medical treatment if you have injuries or are worried about your health.
• changing where you live to get some space, or safety.
• keeping track of/log what is happening.
• discussing self-care and coping skills.