What is stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, according to the Department of Justice. Like crimes of sexual violence, stalking is about power and control.
Stalking behavior can take many forms including:
- Making threats against someone, or that person's family or friends.
- Non-consensual communication, such as repeated phone calls, emails, text messages, and unwanted gifts.
- Repeated physical or visual closeness, like waiting for someone to arrive at certain locations, following someone, or watching someone from a distance.
- Any other behavior used to contact, harass, track, or threaten someone.
Under Penal Code 646.9, California law defines the crime of stalking as following, harassing, and threatening another person to the point that the person fears for his or her safety. Stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
PC 646.9(a) states that “any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking…”
Clery act and stalking
The Clery Act defines stalking as: “Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (1) Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or (2) Suffer substantial emotional distress.
If you think you are being stalked, please know you are right to be concerned. Stalking may escalate in behavior.
What to do if you’ve experienced stalking
If you’re being stalked, you’re likely going through a lot of stress, vulnerability, anxiety, and other emotions you may not be able to express right now, which in turn may be affecting your sleep or concentration at work or school.
Every year, 3.4 million people in the US experience stalking youth between the ages of 18 and 24 experience the highest rates.
Most people assume that stalkers are strangers, but in reality, three out of four victims of stalking are harassed by someone they know. If you think you may be in danger, contact an emergency service provider to help you reach a safer place, and consider obtaining a protection order to prevent your stalker from coming near you.
Regardless of whether you intend to pursue legal action against your stalker, it’s important to save evidence of the abuse for proof in the future if you ever need it. Take time to write down the dates, times, and places of each incident that occurred, including names and contact information for people who may have witnessed what happened. Examples of such evidence include:
- Text messages
- Pictures or videos
- Letters, photographs, or cards
- Unwanted items or gifts
- Social media harassment (including inappropriate friend or follow requests)
Stalking is a traumatic experience. You may lose sleep, feel depressed, have nightmares, or feel like you don’t have control over your life because of your experience. These reactions are normal and you should be forgiving of yourself as you heal. It can help to tell a trusted friend or loved one about your experience and work to develop a safety plan.
- PC Campus Safety & Security 559-791-2440
- PC Title IX Coordinator 559-791-2457
- PC Wellness Center 559-791-2212
- Porterville Police Department 559-782-7400
- Porterville District Attorney 559-782-7499
- Sierra View Hospital 559-784-1110
- National Center for Victims of Crime 1-855-484-2846
Created with images by Philipp Lansing - "A guy in a dark place with a hoodie on leaning against a wall." • Eugene Triguba - "Man in front of headlight" • Melanie Wasser - "We all have fears. Darkness, death, automatic flushing. These fears make up who we are. We should embrace them. Face them head on. Don’t let them define you."