Stalking is a behavior designed to bother its intended recipients and put fear into the recipients about their safety and their futures. It is a not-so-subtle attempt at control over the individual being stalked. Stalking has been defined as a behavior including
Stalking consists of a continuing sequence of undesired, harassing, or threatening activities committed by one individual toward another. These acts can additionally include: being followed physically; receiving telephone harassment including hang-up calls as well as completed calls; , being given unsolicited gifts or attention, and being the target of other similar negative behavior, according to Mindy Mechanic, Ph.D. of the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, University of Missouri at St. Louis. However, the stalking problem is not solely a women’s issue. It is rather experienced across all ages and genders and socioeconomic backgrounds, and all individuals should be able to identify and avoid examples of stalking behavior.
A report from the University of Southern California has highlighted stalking events of various types which are intended to exert some sort of control or “mind games” against the victim of the behavior. This is not an exhaustive list. These acts are generally not committed on a one-time basis but instead are generally repeated and have the potential to escalate if allowed to continue without an intervening step to halt them.
Acts that make up stalking: The kinds of acts that make up stalking include, but are not limited to, the following examples of stalking behavior as cataloged by the University of Southern California
· Following or conducting surveillance of the person being stalked
· Inappropriate confrontations, communications or approaches between the stalker and the victim
· Repeated, unsolicited and uninvited visits at the victim’s place of business or domicile
· Receipt of unwanted communications, telephone calls, texts, or pages from the stalker to the victim
· Threatening of the victim in any way by the stalker, either verbally or physically
· Threatening any of the victim’s family or friends by the stalker
· Receipt of any unwanted contact, including emails, texts, letters, or gifts from the stalker to the victim
· Repeatedly sending unwanted messages, emails, or other communications to the victim by the stalker
· Using online social media inappropriately to refer to or establish contact with the victim by the stalker
· Any damage to the victim’s property by the stalker
· Physical assault, however insignificant, to the victim by the stalker
· Sexual assault or threats of such to the victim by the stalker
· Assaulting or killing the victim’s pet by the stalker
· Spreading false rumors or gossip about the victim by the stalker
· Filing anything false against the victim by the stalker
Implications for Recipients of Examples of Stalking Behavior
Stalking behavior should never be taken lightly because it is never well-intentioned. The threat of stalking and repeated examples of stalking behavior should be taken seriously in order to avoid the consequences of a stalker who goes ahead and follows through with the next step of their stalking pattern. Steps must be taken to protect the victim from incidents of future harassment and ultimate danger in the event that the stalker is prepared to take their behavior to the next level and in fact inflict injury on the victim. Steps should additionally be taken before the stalking situation worsens. The safety of the victim should be protected. The actions of the stalker should be reported to law enforcement. If necessary, a restraining order or similar action proper to the affected jurisdiction should be judicially put in place to give the victim a ground for legal action or redress. While some of the incidences related above qualify as criminal acts for which there is provision in the law, some do not and require further attention. Although certain of the acts listed above are merely verbal, the danger remains if the stalker becomes more aggressive or acts on their malevolence. For that reason, the victim should take all threats seriously and be in a position to deflect any attempt at stalking behavior.
Stalking can be the beginning of harmful and aggressive behavior toward another individual. It should always be taken seriously. The seriousness of the threat should be evaluated to ascertain whether it is indeed just nuisance harassment or a more serious behavioral pattern which could lead to injury of some type,
The victim experiencing examples of stalking behavior should take precautions to ensure their safety in all situations. This will also be more easily accomplished through seeking involvement from law enforcement personnel. It is always more prudent to seek support from authorized sources such as the police than to take matters of justice into ones own hands despite the fact that stalking is a private matter!