Stalking and harassment are prevalent in today’s society. They are both similar, and in some states the charges are identical. Both can be dangerous and are a symptom of someone who is deranged mentally.
People who think they need to stalk or harass someone feels the need to be in control of the victim’s life through fear. Often, stalking results in physical contact with the victim.
What is the difference between harassment and stalking?
The term “stalking” “means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress” –Department of Justice.
That definition is vague so here is one that is more specific from the New York Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence:
Key indicators of stalking include: A terrorizing crime with no real identified beginning and no end, a crime that can cause tremendous fear without the slightest physical injury, a behavior with high correlation to physical and sexual violence, a crime that can be lethal, and a very effective tactic of control for domestic violence abusers.
A key note here is that these activities can be in-person, over the phone, mail, cyber, or a combination of all. In order for someone to be arrested for stalking, there must be a high level of repetitiveness of actions.
Harassment refers to a broad number of behaviors that are subject to both criminal punishment and civil liability. On the criminal side, states have a wide variety of criminal laws forbidding harassment in many forms, including general harassment. –FindLaw.com
So, according to these definitions, stalking falls under harassment. Both of these can become felonies depending upon the cruelty of the action and previous charges against the perpetrator.
Here are some statistics from the Stalking Prevention Awareness and Resource Center:
- An estimated 6-7.5 million people are stalked in a one year period in the United States.
- Nearly 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point in their lifetime.
- 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method.
- 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach.
- Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases.
- Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before.
- Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly.
This is scary. Also, stalking victims have an increased rate of absenteeism from work, increased depression, and are at an increased risk of suicide. If you are a victim, involve law enforcement early and ask for help from other resources.
What do you do if you are the victim? Here is some advice.
Call the Police
The police should be your first call. Get an officer assigned to your case and give them everything you have. Harassing emails, letters, phone recordings, and footage from security cameras will help them build a case against the stalker. Do not expect immediate results because the police will try to build a case against this person to make an arrest.
This typically includes solid evidence that proves a pattern of harassment gathered by you.
If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.
You have to take action to ensure you are safe. This includes double checking your locks at night on doors and windows. Add a security system that includes cameras on the entrances to your home. Set these cameras to notify you anytime someone approaches your door. This will allow you to see who is coming and going. If you see the stalker there, you can immediately notify the police through the security system.
While away from your home, try not to be alone in isolated situations. Stay in the crowd and park near other vehicles. Walk and stay in public places where there is little likelihood of a physical altercation.
If the person harassing you is in the workplace, notify your supervisor immediately. This behavior should not be tolerated. If your supervisor ignores you, keep telling people in authority until someone takes action.
Private Investigators can add an extra layer to your security. The investigator will meet with you to understand any patterns of the person doing the harassing. They will place cameras in areas that need extra surveillance. Depending on your budget, the investigator will set up surveillance on your property or work, and video any suspicious activity.
This helps when it comes to arresting the person and getting them off the streets. A private investigator becomes an unbiased third-party witness to the activities. Give them a try to stop the harassment.