Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes someone to feel fear.
Common tactics include:
Targeting people close to the victim
Most offenders are known to their victim and frequently they are former or current intimate partners. Stalking can co-occur in abusive relationships, and can be a sign that the relationship can be potentially lethal. Intimate partners are most likely to physically approach the victim, and demonstrate interfering, insulting, and threatening behavior. They are also more likely to use weapons, escalate behavior quickly and re-offend.
Many stalkers will engage in behaviors that are threatening, harassing and seem unpredictable. A stalker may send cards or gifts to the victim and may retaliate by leaving angry messages when the victim does not respond in a way that the stalker wants. In some instances, the victim and people the victim cares about may be harmed. If possible and safe, communicate to the stalker, either in writing or verbally, that you want the stalking behavior to cease. Tell them just once and do not have further contact. Confronting or talking to the stalker does not always stop the behavior. The stalker may interpret any additional interaction with you as a sign that their efforts to engage you are working.
STALKING IS NEVER CAUSED BY SOMETHING YOU MAY HAVE SAID OR DONE. IF YOU ARE BEING STALKED, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
You might be feeling a variety of emotions and that is normal. Some stalking victims feel frustrated, angry, unsafe, fearful, anxious and depressed. For others, they feel confused, tired, stressed and have difficulty with eating and sleeping. All of these are common reactions to being stalked. Regardless of how you are feeling, you know best.
Trust your instincts. Stalking can be dangerous and may escalate over time.
Stalking can happen to anyone and it is more common than you might think.
1.4 million people are stalked every year in the United States.
1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime
*source: Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. U.S. Dept. of Justice
What can I do if I am being stalked?
Document everything related to the stalking. Keep an incident log, journal and/or calendar with detailed information about the stalking. Be sure to record every incident, including what the stalker was doing, saying (use direct quotes), wearing, driving (license plate number), etc. Record the names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the stalking.
Contact law enforcement to report what is happening to you. Be sure to relay important information such as: the stalker’s name (if known to you), the date, time, and specific details about what the stalker did, and tell them about any evidence that you may have that is related to the incident. Additionally, tell law enforcement about any previous actions that may have been taken against the stalker e.g. warning to stay away or protection orders. Document for your records any communication with law enforcement, including officer names and case numbers.
What can i do if a loved one or friend is being stalked?
There are many reasons why stalking victims decide not to report. Often stalkers know that their victims may sound crazy when they report the stalking, especially if they don't have proof of what happened. Stalking is often used as a way to exert power and control in abusive relationships. It should be taken seriously regardless of if there is physical violence.
It's important to support stalking victims when they come forward.
Minimize individual stalking behaviors.
Worry they'll be viewed as overreacting.
Not recognize the behavior as stalking.
Feel shame or embarrassment.
Fear no one will believe them.
Stalking can have serious and negative long-term health and economic impacts on survivors. Many victims experience mental health issues, lose time from work and have to relocate as a result of being stalked. If a loved one or friend is a victim of stalking, validate their feelings and encourage them to get help. Provide them with a list of resources and options such as connecting with law enforcement or a local crisis center. Additionally, it's imperative when helping a victim navigate trauma, that you are take care of your mental and physical health as well.
Free and confidential support services are available across the state to anyone that has been impacted by stalking, including friends and family of victims. Services are open and affirming to all, and you do not need to be in crisis to call.
In Hampshire, according to RSA 633:3-a, it is against the law to:
• Purposely, knowingly, or recklessly engage in a course of conduct targeted at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her personal safety or the safety of a member of that person’s immediate family, and that person is placed in fear;
• Purposely or knowingly engage in a course of conduct that the actor knows will place an individual and/or that person’s immediate family member in fear for personal safety;
• Commit a single act of conduct that both violates the provisions of a protection order, divorce decree, or bail conditions, that prohibits contact with the individual and is an act of conduct, as defined below. The person must have been served or given notice of the protective order filed against him/her. • “Course of conduct” refers to 2 or more acts that occur over a period of time, however short, that show evidence of a pattern of behavior. This includes any of the following acts against a person or her/his immediate family member:
If you suspect you are being followed or if you are being threatened, harassed, or intimidated by someone, you may want to consider the following:
• Utilize the law enforcement community and courts.
• Speak with your local crisis center about obtaining a Restraining Order.
• Develop a safety plan with your local crisis center.
• Change the locks of your home and/or car.
• Avoid walking alone. Always be aware of your surroundings.
• Alternate daily driving routes and keep car doors locked at all times, even when in use.
• Park in well-lit areas, obtain a locking gas cap, and always visually check the front and rear passenger areas and under the car before entering your vehicle.
• In case you are being followed know the locations of both the police and fire stations. Find out if that department is open 24/7.
• Keep an emergency bag packed with clothing, money, emergency telephone numbers, etc.
• Report all threats sent by mail to the local police or the FBI.
• Alert neighbors and your landlord about what is happening, and have a prearranged code or signal in case the stalker is near or at your home.
• Post a “No Trespassing” sign on the edge of your property where it is clearly visible.
• Be aware of places a stalker could hide, install outdoor lighting, and check to be sure existing lighting works.
• Be protective of your social security number, it is the key to all of your information. Only give it out if you are required to do so.
• If you move do not leave a “paper trail.” Don’t have anything forwarded (mail, newspapers, and magazines subscriptions, telephone number, (etc.). Take all medical immunization records (especially for your children) with you.
• Contact the three credit bureaus: TRW, Equifax, and Trans Union. Let them know of your situation and ask them to flag your record.
• If you receive threatening calls, report it to your phone company. • Always carry a cell phone. If you are being followed call 9-1-1 and go to a busy place.
Get an additional unlisted phone line and keep the information confidential.
Keep your old phone number with your answering machine/voice mail connected. Save messages or caller ID numbers for evidence.
If you cannot afford an additional phone line, ask your phone company about getting a second ring tone that distinguishes your new phone number from your old phone number.
Don’t leave your cell phone unattended.
Set the GPS in your cell phone so it is only accessible by 9-1-1. Contact your wireless provider for more information.
Notify your internet service provider if you receive harassing messages via the web.
Consider safety when using computers. Go to locations like a public library where the computer can’t be monitored or hacked into. Log out of all accounts after using a public computer.
Look into filtering capabilities through your email program that can block email from certain addresses.
National Domestic Violence Hotline : The National 24/7 Hotline offers various resources for victims of domestic violence and stalking. The website includes plans for victim, child, pet and internet safety.
Women Halting Online Abuse (WHOA): WHOA is a volunteer organization founded in 1997 to fight online harassment through education of the general public, and education of law enforcement personnel. The mission of WHOA is to educate the Internet community about online harassment and empower victims of online harassment.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: This website provides clarity on complex topics by publishing extensive educational materials to help people find answers about privacy protections.
NH Alcohol and Drug Treatment Locator: The impacts of trauma are often long lasting. and can be experienced in a variety of ways. This website lists local treatment agencies and individual practitioners offering substance use disorder services.
The 12 member programs of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence provide services regardless of gender,age, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental or emotional ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, race, national origin, immigration status or religious or political affiliation.
Funding for this website was provided by The Corporate Fund. New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence PO Box 353, Concord, NH 03302-0353 (603) 224-8893