Stalking is a crime, it is illegal and you can do something about.
What is Stalking?
Stalking can be difficult to identify at first. Initially a victim may not feel there is any cause for alarm and may feel flattered by the attention. If the behavior escalates and becomes more overt, this could present a very real threat to the victim.
Stalking is defined legally as a “Malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another person with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death.”
In the electronic version of stalking, “Cyberstalkers” use techniques such as sending threatening or obscene mail, sending viruses, harassing victims in chat rooms, or assuming a person’s identity online. Stalking is a series of persistent acts over a period of time. You may not be sure of the “intent” of the stalker but you should still report incidents that concern you. Situations which do not meet the legal standard still could be pursued through the Office of Judicial Programs.
Are you being Stalked? If so, Contact the Annapolis Police Department at 410-263-4141
Many people experience unwanted attention or contact from an “ex” boy-friend, girl-friend, or spouse, a co-worker, a student from a class, a distant friend or even a stranger.
The Person may be doing things like:
- Persistently requesting dates when you have said “No”.
- Repeatedly making phone calls, or sending letters, e-mails, IM messages, or pages on your beeper.
- Hanging around where you work or live.
- Following you or showing up at your work, residence, car or class.
- Psychological manipulation such as
- Guilt Trips
- Unfounded accusations
- Inappropriate gift-giving
- Breaking into your home or car.
- Physically assaulting you.
- Injury or death to a pet.
What stalking victims may experience:
Stalking often takes a toll on victims. They may experience fear, anger, depression, changes in sleep or appetite, stress, feelings of being out of control, nightmares, or an inability to concentrate. Seek help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Things you can do to deal with Stalkers:
- Make your feelings known early (e.g. ”You have called my house 15 times this week and you followed me home last night. I am uncomfortable with this attention.”) If you were in a relationship, you can also add (e.g. “I don’t want to continue with our relationship.”) Most importantly be very direct and state to the stalker (e.g. “Please stop contacting me.”)
- Be consistent and firm with your message.
- Tell a friend, family member or if you are a student, let a faculty member know what is happening.
- Get Caller ID on your phone/s. Get unlisted phone numbers, change your e-mail address, get a temporary P.O. Box.
- Contact the Police. It is helpful to have records of e-mails, phone messages or other evidence of the stalking. Keep a detailed written log of these communications and contacts.
- You may want to get a restraining order to require the offender to stay away from you. The offender could be punished with a fine or jail time.
What is happening is not your fault.
Stalking is never the victim’s fault. It is important that you understand that what is happening to you is not normal, not your fault and not caused by anything that you have done.
There are numerous resources that the Annapolis Police Department Victims Assistance Unit can provide to help you with Stalking.
* The legal definition of stalking varies by state. In many states, stalking is defined as the “Willful, malicious and repeated following and harassing of another person.”
* Stalking Brochures were published by the UMCP Sexual Assault with funding from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control Prevention through the Violence Against Women Grant Program and Channing Bete Company.