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What Is Stalking? - Definition, Types, Signs & Laws

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  • 0:03 Stalking Defined
  • 1:16 Types of Stalking
  • 2:35 Types of Stalkers
  • 4:12 Signs of Stalking
  • 4:45 Stalking Laws
  • 6:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Janell Blanco
In this lesson, you'll learn the definition of stalking and the types and signs of stalking. The laws that protect stalking victims will also be covered. A short quiz follows to test your understanding.

Stalking Defined

Carrie walks back to her dorm room, but she cannot shake the feeling that she's being watched. Over the last two weeks, she has received several blocked calls to her cell phone. Sometimes she will answer the calls, and other times she lets it go to voicemail. When she answers, no one speaks, and whoever it is does not leave a voicemail message. Carrie has also been getting emails to her school account. The emails tell her that she is pretty, and there will be comments about the pants or shirt she wore that day. Tonight, Carrie feels she needs to talk to the police because she feels someone is stalking her.

The definition for stalking is when a perpetrator singles out a specific person and causes the person emotional distress and causes the individual to fear for his or her life, safety, or safety of others. A stalker can be a former boyfriend or girlfriend, an acquaintance, or a stranger. In order for stalking to be a crime, there has to be two or more occasions of visual or physical proximity; non-consensual communication, either written or verbal; threats; or a combination of any of these occasions. In the example, Carrie has had a combination of these occasions and is being subjected to several types of stalking.

Types of Stalking

Stalking can occur in several forms. The first type of stalking is when the perpetrator follows an individual and watches them. Carrie is being watched while she is walking back to her dorm. Her stalker is using surveillance stalking to track and follow her. With surveillance stalking, the perpetrator is known to sit outside the home, place of work, school, or other places that the individual frequents. Along with surveillance stalking, there is cyberstalking.

Carrie is also a victim of cyberstalking, which is the use of electronic means, such as the Internet or cellphones, to stalk victims. Cyberstalking is also considered unsolicited contact from the perpetrator to the victim. The difference between cyberstalking and surveillance stalking is that surveillance stalking is done in a physical sense, and cyberstalking is done through technology and electronic means. The perpetrator has not made physical contact, so the stalking is not considered aggravated stalking.

Another type of stalking is aggravated stalking. Aggravated stalking occurs when the perpetrator restrains the victim, causes bodily harm to the victim, or violates an order of protection. Carrie has not had any of these happen to her, so her stalker is using surveillance stalking and cyberstalking. There are also categories that try to define each type of stalker.

Types of Stalkers

Actions define the type of stalking, but personalities combined with the actions define the type of stalker:

1. Rejected Stalker

This type of stalker becomes upset when the friendship or romantic relationship has ended. The rejected stalker is not only self-centered and jealous but also over-dependent and persistent.

2. Resentful Stalker

The resentful stalker feels humiliated that the relationship has ended and seeks revenge upon the victim. Resentful stalkers are often irrationally paranoid and are known to verbally assault their victims.

3. Predatory Stalker

The predatory stalker seeks power and sexual gratification. They will not make physical contact but will use surveillance to track the victim.

4. Intimacy Seeker

The intimacy-seeking stalker seeks an intimate and romantic relationship with the victim. When the stalker is rejected by the victim, he or she will continually phone the victim, write the victim letters, and can become jealous and violent if the victim enters into a relationship with someone else.

5. Incompetent Suitor

The incompetent suitor stalker usually has inadequate social skills. They want a relationship with the victim but do not have the ability to realize he or she is not meant to be with the victim.

6. Erotomania and Morbidly Infatuated

This type of stalker feels that the victim loves them even though they may not have had any contact with the victim. The stalker is usually paranoid, prefers suitors in a higher social class, and will repeatedly approach the victim.

Not every stalker will fit into one of these categories, and some may exhibit signs of several of these types of stalkers. Each type of stalker has behavior that makes them a stalker. In Carrie's stalking case, there are several occasions or signs of stalking that she can report to law enforcement.

Signs of Stalking

Carrie received several signs that she was being stalked. Some common signs of stalking include:

  • Unsolicited and repeated phone calls
  • Receiving unwanted emails or text messages
  • Objects, such as presents, are being left for the victim, followed by unsolicited contact asking if the victim received the gifts
  • Home, car, or personal property being vandalized
  • Pets being stolen or injured
  • Harassing the victim by spreading rumors about them in person or through social media

Stalking of any type is illegal, and there are laws that protect the victim from his or her stalker.

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