In Bullying Help, Health Professionals

Aggravated Stalking Explained

Aggravated Stalking

Aggravated stalking is a far worse case situation than harassment, pestering and even stalking. Technically, aggravated stalking is a legal definition that that involves a person committing further stalking after already being identified and put under a legal restriction such as a restraining order or similar. To get to this point, the party doing the stalking has already gone way over the line enough that a court has decided there is clearly enough evidence to conclude the perpetrator is a threat to a victim.

In an aggravated case the stalking victim could be anybody. There is no specific case pattern that highlights or favors a specific demographic. That means victims can include kids, celebrities, working adults, seniors and even people completely unknown to the stalker. The unique identifier in an aggravated case is that the usual deterrents of threatened criminal punishment and incarceration after a clear formal warning from the court are not enough to stop the behavior. This is a particularly fearful situation for a victim because it becomes apparent that the stalker is not going to back off and stop the behavior. In many cases the stalking activity actually gets worse.

Another definition of aggravated stalking, which focuses more on the behavior itself from a psychological perspective, is when the stalker graduates from following and creating a presence to making harmful contact with the victim or the victim’s friends or family. This physical contact is often intended to be harmful to scare or mentally push the victim towards the stalker. It’s often the case such stalking is when the perpetrator has lost any hesitation or fear of the law or consequences and is acting outside of the law entirely, becoming a very serious threat to the victim.

Aggravated stalking becomes particularly problematic when the stalker follows a victim from one state to another. Criminal stalking laws are written the state level, so their effectiveness literally stops at the state border, including restraining orders and restrictions placed by a state court. Granted, most states now have very similar stalking laws. However, a victim in one state has to refile and seek protection from a stalker when in a new state. That means the stalker isn’t automatically restricted when he crosses the state border.

If the stalker has been arrested and imprisoned, it is likely he is on limited release first, i.e. probation. This actually creates a bit more of a barrier for a stalker since he must regularly check in with his probation officer. Any request to move to a different state must be approved by the probation office first, limited arbitrary relocation. Again, this assumes the stalker is still living within the laws and not ignoring them entirely once out on the street.

For the victim a stalker that won’t stop is a problem. The victim can always seek a graduation of a temporary restraining order to be upgraded to a permanent order. That said, the real action will occur if the stalker can be caught in the act by law enforcement. This puts the victim in a tenuous position of having to wait for an attack before police can do anything. Unfortunately, a past history is often not enough to put a stalker away in jail, and law enforcement knows it. Victims should always practice situational awareness of their surroundings, as well as protecting their family and loved ones. Some feel the only way to truly be safer is to confidentially relocate and in some cases that works, but not everyone can afford to restart their life all over again.

Working and moving in groups can be very effective at fending off a stalker. Most perpetrators want to catch the victim alone, not with people around. Being around the public and large amounts of people as much as possible often stops any type of interaction alone. That said, ultimately a stalker needs to be restrained, so working with the police as much as possible with details helps build a case. When they have enough, police will act and apprehend the given stalker before he can do more damage. Unfortunately, the time in between can be nerve-wracking for a victim.

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