Stalking and Harassment

Stalking can be defined as “harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. These actions may or may not be accompanied by a credible threat of serious harm, and they may or may not be precursors to an assault or murder.”

Stalking Behaviors

Stalkers may do a number of things to frighten, annoy, or intimidate their victims. Some activities include: making multiple unwanted phone calls, including hang-ups; following or waiting for victims; sending multiple emails, Facebook messages, text messages, or other electronic communications; monitoring phone calls or emails, surveillance, and using GPS tracking technology; threatening to hurt the victim, their loved ones, or their pets; sending unwanted gifts that could range from the “romantic” (flowers, cards, jewelry) to the bizarre (trash, pornographic material); repeatedly driving by or loitering around a victim’s home, school, or place of work; leaving notes for the victim to find; vandalizing or otherwise damaging a victim’s property or possessions; contacting family, friends, roommates, or co-workers to get information or learn the whereabouts of the victim; searching public records or hiring someone to uncover information about the victim.

Safety Tips

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger. Do not communicate with a stalker or respond to their attempts to make contact. Tell friends, co-workers, roommates, and loved ones about what is going on. They can offer support and improve your safety. Inform security at work or school. Ask friends and co-workers to be on the lookout for anything suspicious. Develop a safety plan. Consider taking different routes to and from work, school, home, and other locations. Decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up. Document anything related to the stalking. Keep a record of phone calls, emails, gifts, notes, and appearances by the stalker. Include times, dates, locations, and witnesses with your records. Photograph any property damage or personal injury. Report all incidents to the police. Think about getting a Protective Order or No Contact Order.

Facts & Figures

1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime.

87% of stalkers are male, and 78% of victims are female.

77% of female victims and 64% of male victims know their stalkers.

59% of female victims and 30% of male victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner. In about 57% of these cases, the stalking behavior begins during the relationship.

52% of stalking victims were 18-29 years old and 22% were 30-39 years old when the stalking occurred.

81% of women stalked by a current or former partner have been physically assaulted by that partner.

31% of women stalked by a current or former partner have been sexually assaulted by that partner.

17% of American Indian/Alaskan Native women report being stalked during their lifetime. This is a significantly higher rate than women of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

55% of female victims and 48% of male victims said their stalking was reported to the police.

21% of victims felt that they were stalked because the stalker wanted to control them. 20% felt they were stalked because the stalker wanted to keep the victim in a relationship, 16% felt that the stalker wanted to scare them, 12% were not sure why they were stalked. Only 7% felt they were stalked because the stalker was mentally ill or abusing drugs or alcohol.

Stalking episodes last 1.8 years on average. Instances involving partners or former partners tend to last significantly longer (2.2 years) than cases involving non-partners (1.1 years).

19% of victims said the stalking stopped because they (the victim) moved. 18% felt that the stalking stopped because the stalker found a new spouse or partner. 15% said the stalking stopped after the stalker received a warning from the police.

28% of female victims and 10% of male victims obtained a protective order against their stalker. Protective orders held by female victims were violated 69% of the time, and protective orders held by male victims were violated 81% of the time.


All statistics are taken from “Stalking in America: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (Tjaden and Thoennes, 1998).