Stalking is unwanted pursuit, following, or harassment. Two common features of stalking are that the actions are not wanted and they threaten or cause fear.
Stalkers can be motivated by intense feelings of affection or dislike or the feeling that their ex-partner belongs to them after a break-up. Women are significantly more likely to be stalked by intimate partners than men.
According to California law, a stalker is:
Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family... California Penal Code 646.9(a)
What kinds of behaviors can stalkers exhibit?
- obsessive behavior
- inappropriate approaches & confrontations
- unwanted telephone calls
- threats to family and friends
- unwanted letters
- unwanted or threatening gifts
- damage to property
- physical assault
- unwanted e-mail
- appearing at place of residence, school, or work
- sexual assault
Warning signs of potential stalkers
- extreme jealousy
- physical or verbal abuse
- damage or destruction to your property
- makes your friends or family feel scared or uneasy
- offers of unsolicited help
- refused to accept no for an answer
- switches between rage and "love"
- unable to cope with rejection
- falls instantly in love
What can you do?
Write down everything that happens. Include dates, locations, times, and any exact words that you can remember. Keep voicemail messages that might include threatening or inappropriate messages. Keep any letters, notes, other writings, and any objects or gifts sent to you. Tell friends and family the importance of keeping your personal information private. Tell someone.
If you feel that you are a victim of stalking, or are concerned about the potential that you may become a victim of stalking, it is very important to maintain a current and accurate record of ALL contacts and behaviors that may be related to the crime. Doing so will assist you and law enforcement in tracking and identifying the threat. This information may help when applying for restraining orders, dealing with custody issues or pursuing criminal prosecution. It can also help to preserve memories of the events in case you are later called upon to testify.
Download the Stalking Incident Log to assist you in your documentation, or create your own with similar categories. Keep track of all phone calls, letters, e-mails, visits, acts of vandalism, or contacts through third parties. Attach a photograph of the stalker, photocopies of restraining orders, police reports, and other relevant documents. When reporting incidents to law enforcement, record the officer's name, badge number and case number.
You should attempt to be as complete as possible in your record-keeping and avoid storing the record in a place that might be accessible to the stalker. Tell only someone you trust where you keep your log.
Important note: Since this information could potentially be introduced as evidence or shared with the stalker at a future time, do not include any information that you do not want the stalker to see.