People of all ages, ethnicities, professions, genders, and cultures can be victims of stalking. Stalking is a crime that causes great anxiety and terror for victims, disrupting their lives, and is more common than one might believe. A victim of stalking might fear everyday occurrences like the phone ringing, the doorbell chiming, receiving something in the mail. Stalking involves “being followed, spied on, or communicated with, without consent at a level perceived to be somewhat dangerous or life threatening.” (Stalking in the United States, Recent National Prevalence Estimates, 2006). Stalking affects 7% of women (1 in 14) and 2% of men (1 in 50) in the United States.
Stalking can be any intentional incident of threatening, following, surveillance and/or coercive behavior that occurs more than once. According to Washington State Law [RCW 9A.46.110] a person commits the crime of stalking if:
- He or she intentionally and repeatedly (two or more instances) harasses or follows another person.
- The person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure her/him, injure a person close to her/him, or harm property possessed by the victim or person close to them
- The stalker either intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person; or the stalker knows or reasonably should know that the person is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to intimidate, harass or cause fear.
Statistics show that approximately 80% of stalking cases involve women stalked by former male partners. In addition, 90% of women murdered by current or former male partners were stalked prior to their deaths. Stalking can take many forms. Stalking cases can involve interpersonal relationships (i.e. ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, ex-husbands/wives, co-workers, neighbors, etc.); strangers (i.e. fan/celebrity, unknown apartment tenant, unknown admirer at work, etc.); relationships in which the stalker believes he/she is loved by another (i.e. fan/celebrity, or employee/supervisor); or the stalker actually poses him/herself as a victim of stalking.
If you or someone you know believes they are being stalked, Skagit DVSAS would encourage you to keep a journal of dates, times, and locations where you suspect you are a victim of stalking. Write a brief description of the event, names of witnesses to the event, and if you spoke with police office, include his/her name in your journal.
There is legal help for stalking victims in the form of a civil Stalking Protection Order and the advocates at Skagit DVSAS are available to assist you with filling out the forms and requesting protection.
For more information: the use of technology in intimate partner stalking.