Stalking is the unwanted pursuit of another person. By its nature, stalking is not a one-time event. The individual’s actions must be considered in connection with other actions to determine if someone is being stalked. It includes repeated harassing or threatening behaviour toward another person, whether that person is a total stranger, slight acquaintance, current or former intimate partner, or anyone else. The domestic stalker is initially motivated by a desire to continue or re-establish a relationship, a desire that can evolve into an attitude of “If I can’t have her no one can.”
Stalking is also:
- A terrorizing crime with no real identified beginning and seemingly no end
- A crime that can cause tremendous fear without the slightest physical injury
- A behaviour with a high correlation to physical and sexual violence
- A crime that can be lethal
- A very effective tactic of control for domestic violence abusers
What is cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking means using technology to stalk. Cyber stalkers need not be in physical proximity to their targets, and are therefore sometimes able to remain anonymous or even enlist others to help them stalk.
Typical Stalking Behaviours
Stalking behaviours can include any behaviours if they have no reasonable legitimate purpose, depending upon the context in which they are done. The acts committed are limited only by the stalker’s creativity, access, and resources.
Stalkers’ common behaviours include:
- Following, monitoring, surveillance of victim and/or victim’s family, friends, co-workers
- Disorderly conduct offenses
- Criminal mischief, larceny, robbery, burglary, trespass, loitering
- Forgery or criminal impersonation
- Abusing or killing pet or other animal
- Repeated threatening communications or attempts to communicate, especially after being clearly informed to stop
- Violation of any order of protection
- Crossing authorities to stalk/commit offenses
- Kidnapping victim or children or threatening to do so; and/or
- Threats of suicide or homicide
Stalking is any repeated unwanted behaviour that has no reasonable, legitimate purpose, depending on the surrounding conditions or actions.
Intimate Partner Stalkers
When stalking is identified, it is generally true that:
- The more of a relationship that existed prior to the identified stalking, including spouses or intimate partners, the more likely the stalkers are choosing to use their behaviours in order to gain (or regain) power and control over their victims.
- The great majority are male perpetrators targeting female victims.
- The less of a relationship between stalker and target that occurred prior to the stalking, the more delusional and/or mentally disturbed the stalker.
Risks Increase When Current or Former Intimate Partner Is Stalking
- Studies show increased fatality risk by stalker
- Stalker already has extensive and intimate knowledge of victim and routines (history, social or family contacts, daily routines, employer, co-workers, neighbours, children, pets)
- Stalker already knows victim’s hopes and fears (so easier to exploit them)
- Stalker can make it look like there are “legitimate” reasons for the behaviour
- Stalker has opportunity for regular contact with victim through children’s activities, court dates, family, mutual friends, work, school, etc.
- Especially increased risk if stalker has access to weapons
- Can have increased risk of kidnapping children
Impact on Victims
Stalking can have a devastating impact on victims, including:
- Continuous intense stress or anxiety; hyper-vigilance and/or all-consuming fear
- Feeling vulnerable, out of control, guilt and/or self-blame
- Disruption of everyday living routines (self-isolation, move to new home or work location, change phone number and/or other contact information, change identity)
- Anger, rage, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, failure to concentrate, and/or short-term memory loss
- Somatic responses (nightmares, sleeping habits, eating disorders)
- Loss of work productivity
- Loss of trust in police and criminal justice system