Stalking - Physical and Cyber Stalking
Stalking is defined as harassing or threatening behavior that is engaged in repeatedly. Such harassment can be either physical stalking or cyber stalking.
Physical Stalking is committed when a person intentionally and for no legitimate purpose, engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and knows or reasonably should know that such conduct is likely to cause fear of material harm to the physical, mental, or emotional health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom he or she is acquainted. This could include creating reasonable fear that such person’s employment, business or career is being threatened. This is typically accomplished by following someone or appearing at their home, school or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving messages or objects, or vandalizing the person’s property.
Cyber Stalking is similar behavior through the use of the internet or other electronic means to accomplish the same end. The fact that cyber stalking doesn’t involve physical contact doesn’t mean that it is less dangerous than physical stalking. An experienced Internet user can easily find the victim’s personal information such as phone number, address or place of business to locate their whereabouts. This can then lead to more physical behavior. Stalking is defined as a crime by the New York State Penal Law (Section 120.45 – 120.60).
The US Department of Justice estimates that 8% of women and 2% of men have been stalked at one point in their lives. About one million women and 400,000 men are stalked each year in the United States. Most victims know their stalker. Women are significantly more likely to be stalked by an intimate partner, which is a current or former spouse, a co-habiting partner, or a date. Only 23% of stalkers identified by females were strangers. Currently or formerly battered women have the greatest risk of being stalked. Young adults are the primary targets. 74% of victims are 18-39 years old when the stalking started. About 87% of the stalkers were men.
There are several signs that are good indicators of stalking behavior:
- Persistent phone calls and/or text messages despite being told not to contact the victim in any form.
- Waiting at or outside the victim’s workplace, residence or school.
- Overt threats.
- Manipulative behavior (for example: threatening to harm themselves in order to get a response to such an “emergency” in the form of contact).
- Sending written messages: letters, e-mails, graffiti, etc.
- The persistent sending of gifts.
- Defamation: The stalker often lies to others about the victim.
- “Objectification”: The stalker derogates the victim reducing him/her to an object. This allows the stalker the ability to feel angry with the victim without experiencing empathy.