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Porterville College

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.

Stalking occurs when someone watches, follows, or harasses you repeatedly, making you feel afraid or unsafe.

A stalker can be someone you know, a past partner, or a stranger. While the legal definition of stalking varies from state to state, examples of stalking behavior include:

  • Showing up at your home, workplace, or school unannounced or uninvited.
  • Sending you unwanted texts, messages, letters, emails, or voicemails.
  • Leaving you unwanted items, gifts, or flowers.
  • Calling you and hanging up repeatedly or making unwanted phone calls to you, your employer, a professor, or a loved one.
  • Using social media or technology to track your activities.
  • Spreading rumors about you online or in person.
  • Manipulating other people to investigate your life, including using someone else’s social media account to look at your profile or befriending your friends in order to get information about you.
  • Waiting around at places you spend time.
  • Damaging your home, car, or other property.

California Law

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…”

the use of technology to stalk

One of the ways perpetrators stalk victims is through the use of technology. You may have heard the term cyber-stalking to refer to these types of interactions. “Use of technology to stalk” is a broad term that is used to cover all forms stalking that rely on technology.

Some uses of technology to stalk include:

  • Persistently sending unwanted communication through the internet, such as spamming someone’s email inbox or social media platform.
  • Posting threatening or personal information about someone on public internet forums.
  • Video-voyeurism, or installing video cameras that give the stalker access to someone’s personal life.
  • Using GPS or other software tracking systems to monitor someone without their knowledge or consent.
  • Using someone’s computer and/or spyware to track their computer activity.

As technology and digital platforms continue to grow, so do the chances that someone could interact with you in an unwanted, sexual manner. Not all these behaviors are considered stalking, but they can be violating and make you feel uncomfortable. Learn more about the different ways people can use technology to hurt others.

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
  • Voicemails.
  • 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.

Tips to increase your safety and effectively report the crime

  • Try to avoid the person stalking you. This can be difficult at times, especially if the person stalking you is close to you or your family.
  • If you are being stalked through communication technology, like email or text messaging, make it clear that you wish to stop contact. Once you’ve made it clear, do not respond to further communication.
  • Keep any evidence received from the stalker such as text messages, voicemails, letters, packages, emails, etc., but do not respond.
  • Inform family, friends, supervisors, and co-workers of the situation.
  • Consider reporting the stalking to local law enforcement.
  • Consider reporting the stalking to campus safety and security or campus officials.
  • Keeping an accurate journal or log of all incidents connected to the stalking.
  • Become familiar with computer safety and ways to stay safe online.

To learn more about stalking and safety planning visit: the Stalking Resource Center.

Help for Victims

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Contact your local police department to report stalking and stalking-related incidents and/or threats.

If you've experienced a stalking related incident on campus or at a college related event, please find services and get help on campus.

Even if you do not want to identify the suspect of the crime, you will still receive free resources (medical, counseling, assistance from victim rights, campus security support etc).

For more information visit:

Resources:

  • 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

Works Cited

  • https://www.rainn.org/articles/stalking
  • https://www.shouselaw.com/stalking.html
  • https://legaldictionary.net/cyberstalking/
  • https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=646.9&lawCode=PEN
  • https://www.stalkingawareness.org/

Images

  • https://www.wallpaperflare.com/woman-stalking-on-man-walking-during-daytime-people-dog-street-wallpaper-zaxey
  • https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2012-11-02/features/when-stalking-hits-close-home/
  • https://www.abc.net.au/life/how-to-spot-stalking-and-what-to-do-if-it-happens-to-you/10911232
Created By
Todd Dearmore
Appreciate

Credits:

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."