Medicine

About Stalking

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.

What is stalking?

Stalking involves a perpetrator’s use of a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics. These tactics are unwanted and cause fear or safety concerns in a victim.

Stalking tactics can include:

  • Following and watching the victim.
  • Approaching or showing up in places like the victim’s home or workplace.
  • Leaving strange or potentially threatening items for the victim to find.
  • Sneaking into the victim’s home or car and doing things to scare the victim or let the victim know the perpetrator had been there.
  • Sending cards, letters, flowers, or other presents.

Using technology to communicate has its conveniences. However, it can also make it easier for people to harass others in ways that might be frightening and threatening. Other stalking tactics can include:

  • Using technology (e.g., camera, computer software) to spy on the victim from a distance.
  • Using GPS technology to monitor or track the victim’s location.
  • Contacting the victim via phone calls (including hang-ups and voicemails), texts, email, social media, or photo messages.

Quick facts and stats

Data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) show1:

  • About one in three women have been stalked at some point in their lives.
  • About one in six men have been stalked at some point in their lives.

Most stalking victims reported first experiencing stalking in adulthood. However, about 24% of female victims and 19% of male victims reported being stalked as minors. Nearly 58% of female victims and 49% of male victims experienced stalking before the age of 25.1

Outcomes

Stalking victims have reported feeling fearful, threatened, or concerned for their safety or the safety of others. Nearly 69% of female and 80% of male victims experienced threats of physical harm from the stalker during their lifetime.1 Research has shown a relationship between stalking victimization and posttraumatic stress symptoms, feelings of hopelessness, depression, and anxiety.2345

Stalking victims usually know their stalkers. Data from NISVS showed that the most common perpetrators were intimate partners or acquaintances for both female and male victims.1

Prevention

It is important for everyone to work together to end stalking. Findings from NISVS highlight the importance of early prevention and support efforts, which can include:

  • Empowering everyone to understand, recognize, and address stalking.
  • Mobilizing men and boys as allies in prevention efforts.
  • Enacting programs and policies that promote healthy relationships and safe environments.

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This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.