To want to begin our awareness of stalking by beginning with a simple definition…
Stalking is an unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. It is a form of harassment. It is also a form of intimidation. It involves the willful and repeated monitoring, watching, or following of a victim in person or electronically through cyberspace with internet or phone capabilities.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, “Virtually any unwanted contact between two people which directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can be considered stalking”.
Stalking, unlike other single illegal activities, is a series of actions that occur over a period of time. Though some of the actions that can contribute to stalking can be legal, such as phone calls, emailing, instant messaging or sending gifts to someone, these actions become illegal when they become a form of harassment. An example is sending a text repeatedly to an unwilling recipient.
Stalking has adverse effects for it’s victims. It causes fear for their safety and fear for the safety of their family and loved ones. It also causes substantial anxiety and emotional distress. Many people do not understand how a simple phone call or even just seeing a certain phone number can cause fear in a person. However, many victims of abuse who have gotten away from their abusers live in constant fear from the threats that they have received. People can be stalked even by strangers as well as any unwanted person previously in their life. Either way, it causes a heightened level of fear and sense of impending danger that is not even explainable to those who have never experienced it. Laws are in place making stalking illegal, but it may be difficult to prove as many stalkers avoid leaving evidence that they are lurking in the background and waiting.