What is stalking?

Stalking is a series of behaviors and actions toward a person that makes him/her feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is a serious action that may escalate over time and become violent.

What does stalking look like?
  • Following or spying on a person, including waiting outside one's home, school, or work.
  • Attempting unwanted communication, including phone calls, text/picture messages, emails, and social networking sites.
  • Monitoring phone or Internet use.
  • Leaving unwanted items for one to find.
  • Damaging property or items one cares for.
  • Using technology as a means of tracking, such as hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS).
  • Threatening someone and/or his or her family, friends, or pets.
  • Using public records or other means of investigation to locate personal information.
  • Any other actions that control, track, or frighten the person.
How often does stalking occur?
  • 30% of women and 17% of men in the United States report being stalked.
  • 25% of college students report having been stalked at some point during their college career.
  • Most stalking victims are between the ages of 18 and 29.
  • Individuals from all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds are affected by stalking.
  • 3.4 million people are stalked each year in the United States.
How might I act or feel if I am being stalked?
  • You may feel fearful, vulnerable, anxious, irritable, sad, hopeless, overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, isolated, and angry.
  • You may experience flashbacks or have disturbing thoughts or memories of the incident(s).
  • You may have trouble sleeping, focusing, or remembering.
  • You may have problems with eating including loss of appetite, forgetting to eat, or overeating.
  • You may experience disruptions in social and/or other networks.
What are some characteristics of stalkers?
  • There is no stereotypical stalker or stalking situation; however, stalkers are more likely to be former intimate partners of their victims than any other form of relationship.
  • Men stalk women; men stalk men; women stalk men; and women stalk women.
  • A stalker can be from any socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
What about technology and stalking?
  • Using technology is one of the most common methods stalkers use to locate private/personal information of their victim, and to contact their victim.
  • Not only do stalkers who use technology have access to more information, it is easier to conceal their identity and use methods of deceit.
What does Virginia Law say about stalking?
  • Virginia law defines stalking as a crime.
  • If a perpetrator of stalking is found guilty, a protective order will be made by the court in addition to the perpetrator's sentence.
If I suspect I am being stalked, what can I do?
  • You may report the incident(s) to the Office of Public Safety or to the Harrisonburg City Police.
  • If you believe you are being stalked by another university student, you may contact OSARP.
  • You may also receive support services from the Counseling Center or the Office of Residence Life.
  • Refrain from responding directly to any attempts of communication from the stalker. Communication or any attention at all only encourages the stalker.
  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Keep all phone logs, emails, letters, and pictures of any damages to property, – it is all evidence.
  • Create a safety plan for yourself and consider a court protective order.
  • Use long, complicated passwords for Internet web sites, e-mails, online banking, and other portals that may contain personal information.
  • Choose security questions and answers that only you would know.
  • Use extreme caution when exchanging information via the Internet.

Alexy, E. M., Burgess, A. W., Baker, T., & Smoyak, S. A. (2005). Perceptions of cyberstalking among college students. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(3). 279-289.

Amar, A. F., & Alexy, E. A. (2010). Coping with stalking. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 13. 8-14.

Phillips, L., Quirk, R., Rosenfeld, B., & O'Connor, M. (2004). Is it stalking? Perceptions of stalking among undergraduates. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 31(1). 73-96.
Stalking Resource Center. (2010). Are you being stalked? The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from www.ncvc.org/src.

Stalking Resource Center. (2010). Virginia: Civil stalking law. The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_Virginia103.

Stalking Resource Center. (2010). Virginia: January-March 2010. The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_LegislativeUpdates244#m10.

Truman, J. L., & Mustaine, E. E. (2009). Strategies for college student stalking victims: Examining the information and recommendations available. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 34. 69-34.

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