January is National Stalking Awareness Month. When I hear the word “stalking” I think of the Julia Roberts film, Sleeping with the Enemy. Roberts’ character is in a dangerously violent marriage, and she tries to escape only to have her obsessed husband scarily stalk, and eventually, attack her. Certainly, stalking occurs in situations of domestic or sexual violence, but criminal stalking also includes behaviors such as identity theft.

In honor of this month, here’s some stats on stalking cited from the National Victims of Crime website:

  • 7.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
  • Over 85% of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.
  • 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
  • 25% of female victims and 32% of male victims of stalking are stalked by an acquaintance.
  • About 1 in 5 of stalking victims are stalked by a stranger.
  • Persons aged 18-24 years experience the highest rate of stalking.
  • 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
  • 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.

[Matthew J. Breiding et al., “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization – National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 63, No. 8 (2014): 7]

[Katrina Baum et al., (2009). “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC:BJS,  2009).]

Stalking covers a wide range of behaviors, though. According to the National Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center, stalking is “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”

National Victims of Crime lists the following as stalking behaviors.

Stalkers may…

  • Follow you and show up wherever you are.
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
  • Damage your home, car, or other property.
  • Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
  • Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
  • Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
  • Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.

Stalking victims may experience significant physical and psychological effects such as stress, lost concentration, trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, eating/digestion issues, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some change residences for fear of stalking, and many experience lost work/school time.

Stalking is a crime in all states. Click here to see the stalking laws for your area.

If you or someone you know is being stalked and in need of help, here are some links where you can find help. For an immediate emergency, dial 911.

Victim Connect Helpline (for victims of all sorts of crime)

Help & Resources for Victims