This presentation includes reading, videos, web links, and other content regarding stalking and other forms of violence. It is possible that something you read/watch during this presentation will trigger an emotional response, whether or not you have experienced stalking or violence yourself.
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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.
Penal Code 646.9: California law defines the crime of stalking as the 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.
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, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.
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 & Intimate Partner Violence:
when does stalking occur?
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:
- Making threats against someone, or that person's family or friends.
- Repeated physical or visual closeness, like waiting for someone to arrive at certain locations, following someone, or watching someone from a distance.
- 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.
technology & stalking
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.
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.
Created with an image by Philipp Lansing - "A guy in a dark place with a hoodie on leaning against a wall."