National Stalking Awareness Month
Stalking Myths & Facts
Myth: You can't be stalked by someone you're dating.
Fact: If your “friend” tracks your every move in a way that causes you fear, that is stalking
Myth: Technology is too confusing and expensive for most stalkers to use.
Fact: Stalkers can buy easy-to-use surveillance equipment for as little as $30.
Myth: If you confront the stalker, he or she will go away.
Fact: Confronting or trying to reason with a stalker can be dangerous. Get help.
If you or someone you know needs immediate support, call the AAFV crisis line at 208.459.4779
What is Stalking?
During a 12-month period, an estimated 3.4 million people age 18 or older were victims of stalking. Stalking is defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The Supple-mental Victimization Survey(SVS), which is the basis of this report, was conducted in 2006. The SVS identified seven types of harassing or unwanted behaviors consistent with a course of conduct experienced by stalking victims.The survey classified individuals as stalking victims if they responded that they experienced at least one of these behaviors on at least two separate occasions. In addition, the individuals must have feared for their safety or that of a family member as a result of the course of conduct, or have experienced additional threatening behaviors that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The SVS measured the following stalking behaviors:
- Making unwanted phone calls.
- Sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails.
- Following or spying on the victim.
- Showing up at places without a legitimate reason.
- Waiting at places for the victim.
- Leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers.
- Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
While individually these acts may not be criminal, collectively and repetitively these behaviors may cause a victim to fear for his or her safety or the safety of a family member. These behaviors constitute stalking for the purposes of this study. The Federal Government, all 50 sGates, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories have enacted laws making stalking a criminal act, although the elements defining the act of stalking differ across states.
Things You Can Do
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Trust your instincts. Don't downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you. Read below to find out more about stalking safety plans.
- Don't communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Click here to download a stalking incident and behavior log.
- Contact the Police. Every State has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
- Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
- Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.
- Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
If You Know Someone Who Is Being Stalked
Here's the best practices you can follow to help someone that is being stalked.
- Show support.
- Don't blame the victim for the crime.
- Remember that every situation is different, and allow the person being stalked to make choices about how to handle it.
- Find someone you can talk to about the situation.
- Take steps to ensure your own safety.
Stalking Safety Plan
A safety plan is a combination of suggestions, plans, and responses created to help victims reduce their risk of harm. It is a tool designed in response to the victim's specific situation that evaluates what the victim is currently experiencing, incorporates the pattern of previous behavior, and examines options that will positively impact the victim's safety. In a safety plan, the factors that are causing or contributing to the risk of harm to the victim and her/his loved ones are identified and interventions are developed.
While victims can make safety plans on their own, it is often helpful to enlist the assistance of trained professionals. These professionals, including advocates and law enforcement officers, can help a victim determine which options will best enhance their safety and will work to devise a safety plan to address each unique situation and circumstance. Victim advocates can be found in local domestic violence and rape crisis programs, as well as in victim assistance programs in local prosecutors' offices and in some law enforcement agencies.
Victims are encouraged to keep a log of all stalking behaviors including e-mails and phone messages. The log, as well as any gifts or letters the stalker sends the victim, can be collected and used as evidence. The evidence will help prove what has been going on if the victim decides to report the stalking to the police or apply for a protective order. Click here for a sample stalking log.