What is Stalking?
‘Stalking’ is making repeated unwanted communications and contacts in a way that would cause apprehension or fear in most people. In most cases stalkers make unwanted communications using telephone calls, emails, text messages, posts on social networking sites, and letters and faxes. In some cases stalkers will also send unsolicited materials, such as gifts or items that cause fear or appear threatening (e.g. bullets, dead animals). Many stalkers also make unwanted contact with their victim by loitering near their home, workplace, or places of leisure, by spying on them, following them, accosting them in public, and occasionally by trespassing in their home or workplace. When these types of behaviours persist for more than a few days, there is a significant chance that they will continue for weeks or months, and it is a good idea to seek advice about how to manage the situation. There are many good resources online about how to manage a stalking situation effectively; please see the Victim Support tab for links.
Threats and violence
Unfortunately, many stalkers make threats to their victim or other people, and in a minority of cases stalkers become violent and assault their primary victim or a secondary target (e.g. the victim’s partner). Research shows that most stalkers who become violent do not cause serious harm, however the psychological effects of stalking and violence can be significant (See Impact of stalking on victims for further information). If you have experienced threats or violence from a stalker you should contact your local police force to investigate your legal options.
‘Cyberstalking’ refers to a particular type of stalking in which the stalker uses the internet and technology to harass the victim. This can involve anything from posting unwanted messages on a social networking site, to setting up websites with false or slanderous information about the victim, to trying to access the victim’s personal information, such as bank accounts. Not a lot is known about the relationship between cyberstalking and physical stalking, but it is clear that as technology becomes more commonplace it is becoming a more common method of harassment for stalkers. See the Cyberstalking page for suggestions about how to protect yourself against cyberstalking.