Stalking is a pattern of activity, characterized by threatening behaviors that inflict psychological trauma on the victim, and may result in serious injury or even death. It is one of the tactics commonly used by batterers to terrorize survivors. However, it can also occur in situations where there has been no intimate relationship.
Stalking includes a broad range of behaviors such as: following or waiting outside a person’s home, office, property or school; sending or making written threats including via email, and verbal threats either directly, by phone, or through a third person; repeatedly coming into the victim’s line of sight or personal space; monitoring computer use; committing a crime against the person; damaging her/his property or pets; and generally harassing the person. The stalker may begin with behavior such as seemingly harmless or coincidental contact, then escalate the frequency and level of intimidation which quickly becomes an unwanted intrusion in the person’s life. In one-fourth of stalking cases, the behavior escalates into physical or sexual assaults. In a small percentage of cases, the stalker eventually attempts to murder or does murder the victim.
Stalking behavior in the workplace is a serious issue and poses a real threat of violence. According to the Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime
- Thirty percent of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
- One in eight employed stalking victims loses time from work as a result of their victimization and more than half lose five days of work or more. [Baum et al.]
- One in four victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology, such as e-mail or instant messaging.
- Ten percent of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and eight percent report being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices.
- The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves being followed or having one's property destroyed. [Blauuw et al.]
- Two out of three of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method. [Mohandie et al.]
- Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in one out of five cases. [Mohandie et al.]
- Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly. [Mohandie et. al.]
Steps for victims of stalking to consider include:
- At the University of Michigan, contacting the Department of Public Safety
- Contacting local police agencies
- Developing a safety plan
- Petitioning the court for a stalking protective order