Stalking is a crime that impacts millions of Americans a year, and can include a wide range of behaviors from online harassment to physically following a person or leaving items at his or her house. At Blackburn Center, we help victims of stalking in Westmoreland County, PA. Our free, confidential hotline is available 24/7: 1-888-832-2272.
Stalking can take many forms. At its core, stalking occurs when a person repeatedly watches, follows or harasses another person, making him or her feel afraid or unsafe. A stalker can be known to his her victim, such as a past boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a stranger. While the actual legal definition varies by state, here are some examples of what stalkers may do:
• Show up at your home or place of work unannounced or uninvited.
• Send you unwanted text messages, letters, emails and voicemails.
• Leave unwanted items, gifts or flowers.
• Constantly call you and hang up.
• Spread rumors about you via the internet or word of mouth.
• Make unwanted phone calls to you.
• Call your employer or professor.
• Wait at places you hang out.
• Use other people as resources to investigate your life. For example, looking at your facebook page through
someone else’s page or befriending your friends in order to get more information about you.
• Damage your home, car or other property.
Facts About Stalking
Every year in the United States, 3.4 million people are stalked. Stalking occurs most frequently to young adults between the ages of 18 - 24. It can happen to men, women, teens and children. Three out of four people are stalked or harassed by somebody that they know. Other facts about stalking:
• 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
• 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
• 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology (such as e-mail or instant
• 10% of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and 8% report being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices.
If you are being stalked, you are likely feeling stressed, vulnerable and/or anxious. Stalking is traumatic — you may lose sleep, become depressed, or feel as though you are no longer in control of your life. All of these feelings are normal. The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves being followed or having one’s property destroyed.
Having a safety plan is critical for victims of stalking. Victims of stalking can not predict what stalkers will do but can determine their own responses to the stalking behavior. Personal safety and harm prevention is of the utmost importance for victims. While victims cannot control the stalking behavior, they can be empowered to take steps to keep themselves, family and loved ones safe. The creation of a safety plan can assist victims in doing this. To learn more about safety plans and to view a sample incident log for stalking victims, please visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s website.
If you are in immediate danger from a stalker, call 911. To explore other options for protecting yourself from a stalker and to receive free, confidential assistance, please call Blackburn Center at 724-836-1122 or 1-888-832-2272.
In Pennsylvania, stalking is defined as repeatedly following or committing other acts upon a person with intent to place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury, or otherwise cause the person substantial emotional distress. Harassment is defined as the intent to annoy or alarm the other person by repeatedly committing acts that serve no legitimate purpose.
If you are being stalked or harassed, you may be able to obtain a Protection from Abuse order against your stalker.
To learn more, please visit the Victims of Crime Web site.
For more resources on stalking, please click here.
More about Types of Abuse:
Children and Abuse