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. Many people experience unwanted attention or contact from an "ex" boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse, a co-worker, a student from a class, a distant friend or even a stranger.
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." 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."
Are you being stalked? If so, Contact the Annapolis Police Department at 410-268-4141
Signs of Stalking
The person may be doing things like:
- Persistently requesting dates when you have said "No."
- Repeatedly making phone calls, or sending letters, emails, 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.
Stalking often takes a toll on victims. They may experience:
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Feelings of being out of control
- An inability to concentrate
Seek help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
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.
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.
* 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.