While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, stalking generally refers to a pattern of behaviors that harass, frighten, or threaten someone.
Stalking behaviors may be difficult to identify. Initially, some can seem kind, friendly, or romantic (i.e., sending cards, candy, or flowers). However, if the object of the stalker's attention has indicated s/he/zi wants no contact, these actions can seem controlling or scary. It is especially important to consider the pattern of behavior, including the type of action, frequency, consistency, and if the behavior does not stops when the stalker is told to cease contact.
- Persistent phone calls, emails, texts, or Facebook messages despite being told not to make contact in any form.
- Waiting for the victim at workplace, in the neighborhood/residence hall, after class, and where the stalker knows the victim goes.
- Threats to family, friends, property or pets (threats or actual abuse toward pets is a particularly strong indicator of potential to escalate to more or lethal violence).
- Manipulative behavior (i.e., threatening to commit suicide in order to get a response).
- Defamation: The stalker often lies to others about the victim (i.e., reporting infidelity to a partner).
- Objectification: The stalker demeans the victim, reducing him/her to an object, allowing the stalker to feel angry with the victim without experiencing empathy.
- Sending unwanted gifts.
If you are experiencing behaviors that are making you nervous or stalking behaviors:
- Know that it is not your fault.
- You do not have to make a decision to report stalking before accessing counseling, medical services, or advocacy.
- If you choose not to engage resources at this time, it may still be useful to create a safety plan.
- The National Stalking Resource Center has put together a useful stalking log available here. Maintaining a log of stalking-related incidents and behavior can be useful, especially if you choose to engage the campus conduct system, the criminal justice system, or civil courts. Recording this information will help to document the behavior for use during campus hearings, for protection order applications, or for criminal prosecution. It can also help preserve your memory of individual incidents about which you might later report or testify. If you choose not to engage the police, but do want to engage campus security, it may be helpful to track these interactions in the column labeled "police" (i.e., write down the security officer's name instead of the police badge number).