While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM)! Though millions of people are stalked every year in the United States, the crime of stalking is often misunderstood, minimized and/or ignored. Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear. Many stalking victims experience being followed, approached and/or threatened – including through technology. Stalking is a terrifying and psychologically harmful crime in its own right as well as a predictor of serious violence. In 85% of cases where an intimate partner (i.e., boyfriend or husband) attempted to murder his partner, there was stalking in the year prior to the attack.

Stalkers will often: 

  • Follow and show up wherever you are
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or emails
  • Damage your home, car, or other property
  • Monitor your phone call or computer use
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go
  • Drive by or hang our at your home, school, or work
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, or pets
  • Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting your friends, neighbors, or co-workers
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth
  • Other actions that control, track, or frighten you

The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center reports the majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know and that 46% of victims experienced one or more violent incidents by their their stalker.