Stalking is a crime of power and control that can be done physically or via electronic or online means.
In the United States, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced some form of stalking victimization in their lifetime. Most of these instances involve a current or former intimate partner (66.2 percent for women, 41.4 percent for men) through unwanted phone calls, voice mail or text messages. Any combination of threats – either verbal, written or implied – that would cause a reasonable person fear are considered to be stalking behaviors.
Some behaviors that could be considered as stalking include:
- Following you or showing up wherever you are
- Sending unwanted communications, such as gifts, letters, cards, e-mails, voice mails or text messages
- Damage to your personal property (house, vehicle, other property)
- Monitoring use of phones, computers or other techonology
- Tracking you via hidden cameras or GPS (global positioning system) devices
- Threatening physical violence on you, family, friends or pets
- Driving by places you are at frequently (home, school, work)
- Attempting to find out more information about you using public records, online searches, private investigators, contacting family and/or acquaintances, or even searching through your garbage
- Releasing information about you or spreading rumors via word of mouth, the Internet or in a public setting
Being the target of a stalker can negatively impact your physical and emotional well-being. You may experience:
- Fear of what the stalker may do next
- Not know who to trust and be left feeling vulnerable and unsafe
- Feelings of anxiousness, irritability or impatience
- Depression, hopelessness or a sense of being overwhelmed
- Increased stress
- Difficulties sleeping, concentrating or remembering things
- Eating problems (loss of appetite, overeating, forgetting to eat)
- Experience flashbacks or other disturbing thoughts or memories
- Feel confusion, frustration or isolation because others may not understand your situation
Stalking IS a crime in all 50 states. In Nebraska, the stalking and harassment laws read as follows:
R.R.S. Neb. § 28-311.02. Stalking and harassment; legislative intent; terms, defined. (2006)
(1) It is the intent of the Legislature to enact laws dealing with stalking offenses which will protect victims from being willfully harassed, intentionally terrified, threatened, or intimidated by individuals who intentionally follow, detain, stalk, or harass them or impose any restraint on their personal liberty and which will not prohibit constitutionally protected activities.
(2) For purposes of sections 28-311.02 to 28-311.05, 28-311.09, and 28-311.10:
(a) Harass means to engage in a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously terrifies, threatens, or intimidates the person and which serves no legitimate purpose;
(b) Course of conduct means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose, including a series of acts of following, detaining, restraining the personal liberty of, or stalking the person or telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the person;
(c) Family or household member means a spouse or former spouse of the victim, children of the victim, a person presently residing with the victim or who has resided with the victim in the past, a person who had a child in common with the victim, other persons related to the victim by consanguinity or affinity, or any person presently involved in a dating relationship with the victim or who has been involved in a dating relationship with the victim. For purposes of this subdivision, dating relationship means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional or sexual involvement but does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary association between persons in a business or social context; and
(d) Substantially conforming criminal violation means a guilty plea, a nolo contendere plea, or a conviction for a violation of any federal law or law of another state or any county, city, or village ordinance of this state or another state substantially similar to section 28-311.03. Substantially conforming is a question of law to be determined by the court.
R.R.S. Neb. § 28-311.03. Stalking. (2006)
Any person who willfully harasses another person or a family or household member of such person with the intent to injure, terrify, threaten, or intimidate commits the offense of stalking.
R.R.S. Neb. § 28-311.04. Stalking; violations; penalties. (2006)
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, any person convicted of violating section 28-311.03 is guilty of a Class I misdemeanor.
(2) Any person convicted of violating section 28-311.03 is guilty of a Class IV felony if:
(a) The person has a prior conviction under such section or a substantially conforming criminal violation within the last seven years;
(b) The victim is under sixteen years of age;
(c) The person possessed a deadly weapon at any time during the violation;
(d) The person was also in violation of section 28-311.09, 28-311.11, 42-924, or 42-925, or in violation of a valid foreign harassment protection order recognized pursuant to section 28-311.10 or a valid foreign sexual assault protection order recognized pursuant to section 28-311.12 at any time during the violation; or
(e) The person has been convicted of any felony in this state or has been convicted of a crime in another jurisdiction which, if committed in this state, would constitute a felony and the victim or a family or household member of the victim was also the victim of such previous felony.
R.R.S.Neb. § 28-311.05. Stalking; not applicable to certain conduct. (1998)
Sections 28-311.02 to 28-311.04, 28-311.09, and 28-311.10 shall not apply to conduct which occurs during labor picketing.
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If you are being stalked, the United States Department of Justice says you should:
Trust your instincts. Victims of stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker’s behavior, but stalking poses a real threat of harm. Your safety is paramount.
Call the police if you feel you are in any immediate danger. Explain why even some actions that seem harmless—like leaving you a gift—are causing you fear.
Keep a record or log of each contact with the stalker. Be sure to also document any police reports.
Stalkers often use technology to contact their victims. Save all e-mails, text messages, photos, and postings on social networking sites as evidence of the stalking behavior.
Get connected with a local victim advocate to talk through your options and discuss safety planning. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233).