The legal definition of stalking (according to the Merrium-Webster dictionary) is:
“the act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death especially because of express or implied threats.”
While most stalking is committed by someone known to the victim, such as an ex-partner or acquaintance, some victims are stalked by strangers. Stalking can get more serious over time and can happen to anyone regardless of race, culture, gender identity, age, or sexual orientation. Approximately 15% of women and 6% of men in the United States have experienced stalking. (CDC, 2014) Stalking is most common in the young adult age demographic (18-25 years old), but can occur anytime in one’s life.
Stalking can occur through technology (i.e. calling someone over and over, harassing someone via social media or email), through physical presence by driving by someone’s home, school or place of employment and even through the mail. Stalking can include direct or indirect threats and contact. If you or someone you know are experiencing any form of stalking please know that you aren’t alone and that help is out there. At the WCA we can help with safety planning and legal education and assistance (208-343-7025).
What to do if you or someone you love is a victim of stalking:
- Trust your instincts. Victims of stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker’s behavior, but stalking poses a real threat of harm. Your safety is paramount.
- Call the police if you feel you are in any immediate danger. Explain why the stalker’s actions are causing you fear.
- Keep a record or log of each contact with the stalker. Be sure to also document any police reports.
- Save evidence when possible. Stalkers often use technology to contact their victims. Save all emails, text messages, photos, and postings on social networking sites as evidence of the stalking behavior. You may also want to consider how to use your technology and your devices in a safer manner.
- Get connected with a local victim service provider who can assist you in exploring your options as well as discuss safety planning.