Stalking is a pattern of behavior that makes you feel afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. It is when someone repeatedly contacts you, follows you, sends you things, talks to you when you don’t want them to, or threatens you. Stalking behaviors can include:
- Knowing your schedule.
- Showing up at places you go.
- Sending mail, e-mail, and pictures.
- Calling or texting repeatedly.
- Contacting you or posting about you on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc).
- Writing letters.
- Damaging your property.
- Creating a Web site about you.
- Sending gifts.
- Stealing things that belong to you.
- Any other actions to contact, harass, track, or frighten you.
You can be stalked by someone you know casually, a stranger, a friend, or a romantic partner. Sometimes people stalk their partners while they’re dating. They check up on them, text or call them all the time and expect instant responses, follow them, and generally keep track of them even when they haven’t made plans to be together. These stalking behaviors can be part of an abusive relationship.
If you are stalked, it is not your fault. People who use controlling, harassing, or threatening actions are responsible for their own behavior. If you believe that someone may be stalking you, you have lots of options for support and/or to report the behavior. Find more information about these options here.
Further, if you are being stalked and you want to report the behavior, be sure to collect all evidence.
How to collect evidence of stalking:
Document all incidents
- Keep a log of incidents
- Include photographs and/or affidavits from witnesses
- Preserve all evidence
- Text Messages
- Letters, notes, e-mail
- Photographs of damaged property, etc.
- Communication on social media
Online and Digital Harassment/Stalking
Online stalking is rising as technology continues to develop. Online and digital harassment warns of a deeper pattern of abuse offline.
Research has shown that individuals are:
- 2x as likely to be physically abused
- 2.5x as likely to be psychologically abused
- 5x as likely to be sexually coerced (Sweig & Dank, 2013)
Examples of online harassment/stalking include:
- Unwanted/unsolicited e-mail
- Unwanted text messages
- Continued attempts to contact you through Facebook
- Posting unwanted comments on your Facebook wall or photos
- Unwanted/unsolicited talk/chat requests
- Unsolicited communications about you, your family, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers
- Identity theft
- Sending/posting disturbing messages with your user name
If you experience stalking or harassment online or via phone/text, consider the following:
- If you receive an angry/hostile electronic message, make it clear to the person that you would not like them to contact you again. This documents your actions and can be helpful if you need to file a police report or file for an order of protection.
- Save any messages you have received. Do not edit or alter them in any way and place them in a separate folder on your hard drive or on a flash drive.
- Print out hard copies of all messages, chat logs, etc.
- Save text messages or take screen shots of them.
- Save voicemails.
What you can do to protect yourself:
- Know what the definition of stalking means.
- Collect evidence of stalking.
- If you think you are being stalked, don’t hesitate to call the police, the campus police, or Consultation and Sexual Assault Support (CASAS).
- If your stalker is someone you know, you don’t have to tiptoe around how you feel. If you feel safe asserting your boundaries, do it.
- There are lots of resources on stalking. Don’t be afraid to take a look. Here are a few:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline | 1-800-799-SAFE
- Stalking Resource Center, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime