The term stalking has multiple definitions, all meaning the same thing in the end. Stalking, is a crime, like domestic violence, that gives the perpetrator a feeling of power and control over his or her victim. Though all stalking definitions have the same meaning, they are worded very differently. Let’s take a look at the legal definition of stalking and other close interpretations of the laws.
Legal definition of stalking
The legal definition of stalking, according to the Department of Justice, is a “pattern of repeated threatening or harassing behaviors that directly or indirectly communicate a threat, or place the victim in fear.”
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ)conservatively defines stalking as “ as course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.”
Both definitions declare that stalking is unwanted and repeated behavior from one unto another.
Legal definition of stalking: Threatening behavior
There are many different behaviors a stalker can bear, including a persistent pattern of unwanted advances, gifts and communications with a victim. In many cases, but not all, victims are threatened with physical harm. Threats can include violence against the victim, threatening to damage property or causing harm to the victim’s immediate family.
Legal definition of stalking: Online Stalking
With the improvement of technology, electronic mechanisms, such as phone, fax, GPS, computer spyware, Internet and cameras, stalkers are finding more tools to make their illegal actions easier. Cyberstalking laws have been implemented to help protect victims from being harassed online.
The John Hay College of Criminal Justice has released a list of different ways to know if you are being stalked. Here is the list published on the college’s website.
- Someone is constantly following and spying on you
- Someone is constantly calling you at home and/or at work
- You are receiving multiple unprovoked and unwanted emails, letters, faxes and/or texts
- You find unwanted gifts left at your doorstep, your office, on your car or sent in the mail
- You discover your property has been damaged or vandalized
- You receive constant threats regarding your health and safety. These threats can also be targeted toward your pets and family members
- Someone is repeatedly showing up everywhere you go with no reason for being there
Legal definition of stalking: What to do
If any of these actions are happening, it is important you file a police report immediately. Save all gifts, emails, text messages and document all suspicious activities by your suspected stalker. Avoid walking or going anywhere alone and have a plan of action should you come face-to-face with your stalker.
Other things you can do to protect yourself is to change your daily routine, notify others of your situation and file for an Order of Protection. Being stalked is not something to take lightly. Though it may be innocent in the beginning, when the stalker does not receive any replies his or her activities may escalate and could end up being harmful.
Legal definition of stalking: Victims
Though stalking can be targeted toward both men and women, trends show that women are more likely to fall victim of this type of criminal action. The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey revealed that one in six women are stalked. That is a higher ratio than the one in 19 men how have been stalked. Women are more likely to be stalked by a former partner or an acquaintance. According to the CDC’s survey, two-thirds are stalked by former partners and nearly-one quarter are stalked by someone they know. Very few victims, approximately one out of eight, are stalked by a complete stranger.
Legal definition of stalking: Charges
If someone commit’s a crime involving stalking, they can be charged with aggravated stalking. In addition to the stalking charges, the perpetrator may also be served with a temporary restraining order, trespassing or other similar court orders.
In a Presidential Proclamation, President Obama announced that March would be National Stalking Awareness Month. This year, 2014, would be the first year the proclamation would be in effect. This is the just one of many continued efforts to help raise awareness and protect victims of stalking.
If you feel you are being stalked, start taking notes and documenting everything you can. Immediately seek the help of your local police department. They will instruct you how to handle the situation and if you should seek court ordered protection.
It is also essential that definition of stalking is spread around the world so that victims of stalking know what they are dealing with. In comes the information provided with the definition of stalking.