On this page, you will find general information about stalking. You can also learn more by visiting the Yale Sexual Misconduct Response & Prevention site, where you can read Yale’s definition of stalking, or by downloading SHARE’s brochure on the topic here.
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 serious crime, both in its own right and because it can escalate quickly. It is 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 a person or against their children, relatives, friends, or pets.
- Damaging or threatening to damage someone’s property.
- Harassment that occurs online.
- Posting information or spreading rumors about someone on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
- Obtaining personal information about a person by accessing 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 the receipt of numerous gifts or flattering messages. The person experiencing this behavior may find themselves needing to explain to others just how intrusive and frightening this unwanted attention can be. Stalking is sometimes dismissed when it occurs in digital spaces (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 that defines stalking.
Safety is Important
Being stalked is usually frightening and stressful. Often, people are right to be worried—stalking can escalate quickly into more dangerous crimes. We strongly urge you to be in contact with professionals who can help if this is something you or someone you know is experiencing. This is unlikely to be a situation you can safely resolve on your own. SHARE can help you assess the situation and make a safety plan. SHARE can also connect you to other campus or community resources including the Sensitive Crimes and Support Coordinator at the Yale Police Department if this is something you would like. Your physical safety is critical, and so it is our initial focus. But your emotional well-being matters too. SHARE can offer ongoing counseling and support, as well as practical help. Call us at any time of day or night. We are here for you.