What is stalking and why do they do it?

blindsBWBeing stalked can be a terrifying experience. Victims are traumatized repeatedly by their stalkers and are often left feeling isolated and alone.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice more than 6.6 million people are stalked each year.   While the majority of stalking victims (66% of females and 41% of males) are stalked by someone they know, others fall victims to stranger stalking.

What is Stalking? 

Stalking legal definitions vary, but a basic definition is a course of conduct directed at a person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  Simply put it is a continued attempt to gain control and ultimately terrorize a person.   Stalking behaviors vary and are often hard to prove since many are not criminal acts by themselves.  A few of the behaviors are repeated phone calls/text messages/emails, following the victim, sending unwanted gifts, use of technology to monitor you, threats and posting/spreading rumors.

Why me? Why am I being stalked?

This is the question I get asked the most often.  The stalker’s obsession simply cannot be justified or explained in any reasonable way.  To try to guess why the stalker chose you or why the obsession is so deep is to try to assign reason to an unreasonable person.

However, there is some research to indicate the stalker sees their victim(s) as property or a possession that is rightfully their own.  There are often diagnosed mental health issues associated with stalking.  However, it is important to note that not all stalkers have diagnosed mental health issues. Stalking is a crime based on control of the victim and a feeling of entitlement to the victim.


If you are being stalked, it is important to get help.  Tell your friends and family members.  Their observations can help get a conviction and keep you safe.  Of course, if you are in immediate danger call 911.  See more about staying safe in our Help for Victims section. 

What are typical stalking behaviors?

Stalkers may exhibit one or more of these activities.

  • Following you
  • Sending unwanted gifts (cards, flowers, emails, text messages, jewelry)
  • Damage to property
  • Monitoring of your phone or computer with the use of spyware
  • Driving by home, school or work
  • Use technology to gain access to you with hidden cameras or GPS systems
  • Make threats to you or friends/family
  • Post false information or rumors about you online
  • Public information searches to obtain more information on where you may be or what you may do


What is Stalking?


Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. 

Legal definitions may vary, but the fact that stalking is a serious crime that can often turn violent does not vary.