Sexual Misconduct - Stalking

Yale’s Definition of Stalking

Stalking is repeated or obsessive unwanted attention directed toward an individual or group that is likely to cause alarm, fear, or substantial emotional distress.  Stalking may take many forms, including following, lying in wait, monitoring, and pursuing contact. Stalking may occur in person or through a medium of communication, such as letters, e-mail, text messages, or telephone calls.  In some circumstances, two instances of such behavior may be sufficient to constitute stalking.

General Information About Stalking

Stalking is repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person or group that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  It is a crime that police take very seriously, both in its own right and because it can escalate into serious physical violence.  It’s against the law in every state, and a federal crime when it happens across state lines.

Stalking can include:

  • Repeated, unwanted, intrusive, and frightening communications by phone, mail, email, text, social media, etc.
  • Following or laying in wait at places such as home, school, work, or recreation place.
  • Repeatedly leaving or sending unwanted items or presents.
  • Making direct or indirect threats of harm against the victim, the victim’s children, relatives, friends, or pets.
  • Damaging or threatening to damage the victim’s property.
  • Harassing the victim through the internet.
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
  • Obtaining personal information about the victim by accessing public records, using Internet search services, hiring private investigators, going through the victim’s garbage, following the victim, contacting victim’s friends, family, work, or neighbors, etc.

To an outsider, stalking behavior can appear friendly and unthreatening, such as showering the victim with gifts or flattering messages.  Victims may find themselves needing to explain to others just how intrusive and frightening unwanted attention can be.  Stalking is sometimes dismissed when it is done via technology (cell phones, computers, networking sites, surveillance equipment, and so on), but the medium is not what matters—it is the pattern of repeated, unwanted communication.

Is someone stalking you or someone you know? View Crisis Situations - Stalking

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