Stalking of an individual refers to the act of following the victim or monitoring them and may include harassment and intimidation. It is an undesired or obsessive attention towards an individual by another individual or group. The term stalking is used in some legal jurisdictions as a criminal activity.
Stalking and Domestic Violence
Stalking can also be related to domestic violence in which the victim is being stalked by the estranged or separated spouse or partner. The act of stalking involves behaviors like:
- Intimidating, harassing or threatening the victim through phone calls or emails etc.
- Following the victim or shadowing them
- Uninformed appearances at the victim’s home or place of employment
- Damaging the property of the victim
- Doing activities that intimidates the victim and increases concerns about their safety
Types of Stalking
There are three different categories of stalking:
Erotomania – This type of stalking involves a delusional obsession with a celebrity or a public figure who is mostly out of reach of the stalker.
Love Obsessional – This type of stalking involves individuals who become obsessed with any individual with whom they didn’t have any intimate or close relationship. The victim may be a friend, a person met only once, or even a complete stranger.
Simple Obsessional – This type of stalking is done by stalkers who has previously been involved in an intimate relationship with their victims. In most of the cases, the victim has attempted to get out of the relationship but the stalker does not allow the victim to leave. Such stalkers suffer from different personality disorders. They may as well be emotionally immature, extremely jealous, insecure and have low self-esteem. They stalk their victim with the goal of reconciliation and they often feel powerless without the relationship and they think they won’t survive without the relationship.
Domestic violence stalking comes under this category of stalking which is done by ex-husband or lover or a co-worker or employer. Approximately 30% of the cases fall into this category in the US.
The crime of stalking is defined differently and has different laws for it in different states of the US. However, the requirements to label an act as criminal stalking are listed as under:
- Intent requirement – There should be a proof that the stalker intended the consequences of his actions.
- Standard Fear – Some of the states require that the behavior of the stalker must cause the victim to fear.
- Threat – Some states require that the stalker poses a credible threat to the victim. Implicit threats are mostly very hard to prove in court. They are mostly experienced by victims who had an intimate relationship with the stalker previously.
- Target of the Stalker’s Act – Mostly, this is also a requirement that the actions of the stalker pose a threat to any person close to the victim like their children, current spouse or any other family member.
- Crime Classification – Some states classify stalking as a felony when it is reported for the first time and is actually done for the first time. Mostly, it is classified as a felony when the offense is done a second time and involves aggravating factors. The factors that aggravate the situation include possession of a weapon by the stalker, stalking someone under 16 years of age, the same victim being stalked again and again, or violation of a court order.
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