Simply stated, "stalking" is any unwanted contact between the stalker and the victim that communicates a direct or indirect threat and that causes the victim to fear for his/her safety and/or the safety of family members.

How common is stalking in the United States?

  • 8.2 million (1 out of 12) women and 2 million (1 out of 45) men will be stalked at some point in their lives.
  • 1.4 million people are stalked annually.
  • (Source: Tjaden Report: NVAW Survey, 1998)

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Relationship Between Victim and Stalker

  • 77% of female victims know their stalker
  • 64% of male victims know their stalker
  • 60% of female victims are stalked by an intimate partner (current/former spouse, cohabitant, boyfriend, or girlfriend)
  • 30% of men are stalked by an intimate partner (i.e., 70% of men are stalked by an acquaintance or a stranger)
  • (Source: Tjaden Report: NVAW Survey, 1998)

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Most Common Types of Stalking Behaviors Reported by Victims

  • Female stalking victims most often report being followed, spied on, and receiving unwanted/harassing telephone calls.
  • Equal percentages of male and female victims report receiving unwanted letters or items, having their property vandalized, and their pets threatened or even killed.
  • Fewer than 50%of both male and female victims report being directly threatened by their stalkers (i.e., majority of stalkers do not threaten their victims verbally or in writing; rather, they most often engage in a course of conduct, than taken in context or as a whole, causes the victim to fear harm).
  • (Source: Tjaden Report: NVAW Survey, 1998)

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Common Characteristics of Stalkers:

  • Jealous
  • Narcissistic
  • Obsessive/Compulsive
  • Manipulative/Controlling
  • Socially awkward
  • Views self as victim of society, family, and others
  • Unable to take "no" for an answer
  • Deceptive
  • Difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Unable to cope with rejection
  • Dependent on others for sense of self
  • Blames problems on others
  • Above-average intelligence

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4 Different Stalking Types

1. Love Obsessed Stalker

  • Stalker has had no relationship or only a very casual relationship with the victim (e.g., stranger, neighbor, coworker, classmate, acquaintance)
  • Mental disorders
  • Delusional thought patterns
  • Socially insecure
  • Low self-esteem
  • Victims include celebrities, athletes, politicians, and ordinary people

2. Erotomanic Stalker

  • Stalker has no personal relationship with the victim, but believes he/she is loved by the victim
  • Mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia or paranoia)
  • Delusional
  • Little or no history of romantic involvement
  • Lives a "fantasy" life
  • Victims are most often celebrities, or public figures

3. Simple Obsession Stalker

  • Stalker has had personal relationship, most often intimate relationship with the victim (e.g., spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, casual date)
  • Personality disorders
  • Socially maladjusted
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Dependent on the partner for self-worth
  • Low self-esteem
  • Controlling and domineering toward partner

4. Domestic Violence-Related Stalker

  • Most common and dangerous type of stalking
  • Domestic violence victims run a 75% higher risk of being murdered by their partners
  • Highest risk to domestic violence victim is when she leaves her abusive partner; stalking often begins or escalates at this point

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Online stalking is rising as technology continues to develop. Examples of online stalking include:

  • Unwanted/unsolicited e-mail
  • Unwanted/unsolicited talk requests in chat rooms
  • Disturbing messages on bulletin boards
  • Unsolicited communications about you, your family, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers
  • Identity theft
  • Spending/posting disturbing messages with your user name
  • 25% of the stalking incidents among college women involve cyberstalking

Internet Safety Tips:

  • Don't use your real name or nickname as your screen name or user ID. Instead, use a name that is both gender and age neutral and don't post personal information about yourself in your user profile.
  • Don't share your password with anyone online, especially if you receive an instant message.
  • Don't provide your credit card number or other personal information as proof of age to access or subscribe to a website you're not familiar with.
  • Don't share your primary e-mail address with people you don't know or trust.
  • When you chat online or post to a newsgroup or mailing list, be careful and only express thoughts/ideas that you would be willing to say in a face-to-face conversation.
  • Exercise caution when meeting an online acquaintance in person; if you do choose to meet the person, make sure you meet in a public place and, if possible, bring a friend.
  • If you receive an angry/hostile electronic message, do not respond since this is how some online harassment situations begin.
  • If you feel that you need to respond, make it clear to the person that you would not like him/her to contact you again.
  • If a situation becomes hostile, log off or surf elsewhere; if the situation places you in fear, save any messages you have received and contact a local law enforcement agency.
  • Keep copies of all electronic messages you receive or unwanted online communications. Do not edit or alter them in any way and place them in a separate folder on your hard drive or on a diskette. Also, print out hard copies of all messages, chat logs, etc.
  • Notify the University Policy and Human Resources (650-3774).

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What you can do to protect yourself:

  • Know what the definition of stalking means.
  • If you think you are being stalked, don't hesitate to call the police, the campus police or Human Resources.
  • If your stalker is someone you know, don't tiptoe around how you feel. People in our society are taught to not except no as an answer. If you tell someone that is stalking you that "you just want to be friends" or "I'm not ready for a relationship" then you are leaving room for the possibility that he/she has a chance at a relationship with you in the future.
  • Tell someone. Remember that the law about stalking is made to protect the victim. It can only make things better.

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How to collect evidence of stalking:

  • Document all incidents (keep a stalking log or journal)
  • Photographs
  • Affidavits from witnesses
  • Videotapes
  • Answering machine tapes
  • Preserve all evidence
  • Letters, notes, e-mail
  • Answering machine messages
  • Photographs of damaged property, etc.
  • Gifts

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Source: Adapted from Crime and Sexual Assault Services (CASAS) website, Student Affairs, WWU

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Page Updated 06.03.2013