What Is Stalking?
Stalling definitions may vary from one jurisdiction to another. Stalking is usually described as anyone who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person, and who has the ability to carry out any credible threats that intentionally make that person or that person’s immediate family in fear of their safety. The elements must be present during a police investigation for prosecution.
This conduct of stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, but with an intended purpose of harassment and intimidation.
Hunting: The act or stalking has been used to describe a technique of hunting whereby stalking may be a single act or an instance describing a predator hunting its prey. Similarly a criminal may follow another person by stealth which would apply more to hunters and even rapists who identify a victim’s daily patterns and then either lies in wait for her arrival or approaches her when he knows she is alone and isolated.
Contemporary descriptions of stalking have unique characteristics. Unlike most crimes which consist of a single act or time period, stalking is usually a crime of relationship that involves multiple or continue acts of repeated victimization. This means there has been some form of relationship with the victim and the stalker, even if the relationship exists only in the stalker’s mind.
Violence Against Women Grants Office (1997) defined stalking as a course of conduct and a collection of multiple but individual acts. It is not an incident but rather an ongoing process of incidents spread over months and years.
Black’s Law Dictionary (2012) describes stalking as: “The offense of following or loitering near another, often surreptitiously, to annoy or harass that person or to commit a further crime such as assault or battery. Statutory (legislative law) definitions include an element that the person being stalked must reasonably feel harassed, alarmed, or distressed about personal safety or the safety of one or more persons for whom that person is responsible.”
Stalking methods include telephoning, leaving notes or other items, loitering, cyber stalking (texting, emailing, computer or account hacking), damaging property, stealing mail, burglary, making threats, or having others do the same with the overall perceived purpose to intimidate, harass, or harm. Stalking behavior can take many forms.
Stalking, like rape and intimate partner abuse, is not new to threatening interpersonal conduct. However it was the stalking and killing of celebrities that brought this frightening issue to media attention and public concern.
In 1989, actress Rebecca Schaeffer was shot and killed. Actress Rebecca Schaeffer’s death is often cited as prompting the passage of the nation’s first anti-stalking legislation in 1990. After Rebecca Schaeffer was killed, it was apparent that other stalking victims were without recourse. California became the first state to enact an anti-stalking law in the United States, and all states have stalking laws but there are different penalties and conditions in each state
More so, thousands of people are stalked and harassed who are not celebrities. The media more often focuses on celebrities being stalked or report stories involving horrendous stalking homicides. Most stalking incidents involve intimate partners or other acquaintances who continuously cause anxiety in victims for months and even years. Since the stalking publicity in the 1990’s, stalking laws have been passed around the world giving law enforcement more options to assist victims against stalkers.
Stalking can be a terrifying experience for victims and their families. It is intrusive violation of privacy with the constant fear of potentially being physically harmed or killed, or the constant anxiety that a loved one may be harmed.
If You Are Stalked
If you are being stalked, you may need to approach the problem with several concurrent methods of threat management that may involve improving physical home security measures, financial protective measures, seeking aide from others, repeated notifications and reminders regarding the threat, personal security measures, self-defense training, counter surveillance, obtaining a restraining order, and counseling or therapy.
Model Mugging Self-Defense provides personal self-defense training classes that can assist in addressing the anxiety and fears of the threat to one’s personal safety through building self-confidence to address the ultimate fear of being harmed.
Learning what one can do physically against a padded assailant can empower stalking victims to take more actions to stop and defend against stalking, and find peace their lives.
Other crime prevention skills and tactics may assist in dealing with a stalking threat.
 Violence Against Women Grants Office, “Domestic Violence and Stalking: The second Annual Report to Congress under the Violence Against Women Act,” p 17