When you’re in the middle of an uncomfortable and at times frightening situation it can be difficult to determine if what’s happening is a crime. Am I just too sensitive? Am I overreacting? Popular media or people around might make it seem like you should ‘appreciate the attention’. Understanding the concept of stalking and victimization can help you distinguish what it is, and give you the language to explain this to others. We’ve set out three key questions to help you understand, avoid or overcome this insidious crime.
What is Stalking?
- Characteristics of Stalking
The aspects of stalking behaviors are becoming more diverse. One way to determine stalking is by knowing the overall characteristics of the crime instead of identifying each type of behavior. There are typical signs of stalking that experts have discovered.
Kim Jung-hye, a Researcher at the Korea Institute of Criminology and Justice, points out the following as characteristics of stalking:
☑️ Needing attention
☑️ Imposing social norms
Law enforcement in the United Kingdom introduced four signs of stalking.
- Criteria for punishing stalking
But not all behaviors that fall under the conditions above are subject to criminal prosecution. The types of punishment are determined by the current laws in your country, though any could be included in a police report in case of an escalation of behaviour.
☑️ Approaching or following you
☑️ Blocking your path
☑️ Waiting or monitoring your residence, work, school, or other places that are part of your everyday life
☑️ Sending objects, writing, signs, sounds, pictures, videos, or images through mail, phone, fax, or telecommunication network
☑️ Sending objects directly or through a third party
☑️ Leaving objects at or near your residence, work etc.
☑️ Damaging objects left at or near your residence
☑️ Family, friends and/or roommates also suffer from any of the above
✔️ There are preconditions to all behaviors. “Against the will of the other person”
Is this Stalking?
Stalking at times seems ordinary and trivial. This is because stalking is a complex crime composed of individual behaviors. The series of behaviors that seem like a grain of salt pile up and become a great storm that can ruin lives. Therefore, you should focus on how the series of behaviors, rather than each individual behavior, affects you. Is it stalking? If your not sure try answering these three questions.
- Three Questions to Distinguish Stalking
If the other person’s behavior continues despite expressing in words or actions that you are uncomfortable, be suspicious of stalking. The key characteristic of stalking is that the perpetrator forces his/her intention and desire that is one-sided and obsessive.
Stalking should be suspected if a certain pattern of behavior continues more than once even if the behavior is not identical. Repetition of a specific behavior is a decisive clue in recognizing a crime. Most investigative agencies recognize a crime and judge the severity when a specific behavior is repeated. Sitting behind you on the bus is fine. Sitting behind you repeatedly, especially when they don’t have to, could be a pattern of behaviour.
There is context to feeling fearful. The context of behaviors and the relationship with the perpetrator is an underlining feature of stalking; leading to feeling uncomfortable and anxious in your daily life. You can be afraid even in the most ordinary moments that people around you may not be able to empathize with. Trust your senses if you feel afraid. If you are feeling scared due to someone’s repeated behavior, it is a definite clue to stalking.
How should I handle stalking?
Let’s find out what you can do when caught in the middle. So that you do not become powerless.
What kind of person becomes a victim of stalking? There is no answer to this question. Anyone can become a victim. In other words, there is no such thing as a valid “reason” for a person to become a victim. You do not become a victim because you cannot firmly refuse, or because you somehow led them on. Words that blame victims simply cover up the reality of stalking crimes. You are not responsible for the perpetrator starting or continuing to stalk you.
If you have recognized stalking behavior, quickly ensure your own safety. Tell people around you in detail about your situation and prepare in case of an emergency. If the perpetrator is someone they know, alert the people around you about the stalking and make sure that they do not share your information with the perpetrator. Be sure to block information to prevent the perpetrator from knowing your movements and mental state. Alerting the people around you is an important step to prepare in case of an emergency.
The surest evidence that the behavior is against your will is reporting it. This becomes a record to prove the continuity of stalking behavior and also a warning to the stalker. Accumulated reports enable the investigative agency to recognize the crime and increase the chances of them being attentive to the case.
It’s best defence is to collect evidence even if you do not wish to report to the police. If you wish to report later due to the situation worsening or a change of mind, the evidence you have collected will be reliable support. This is also the case if there is a victim around you. You could become a reliable witness for the victim.
In Solidarity with Victims
What victims of stalking need most is people around them who are reliable and supportive. The people you can contact in a dangerous situation and share details of the situation with, or who can judge the situation together, are the most reliable supporters. However, a society where victims of stalking are safe is created through strong ties. Forming such ties is not as difficult as it may seem.
✅ Listen and remember that stalking is dangerous even if there is no physical abuse
✅ Do not treat stalking as “an everyday occurrence”
✅ Support victims when planning a response such as reporting to the police
✅ Do not blame the victim under any circumstances
- The responsibility of stalking crimes lies solely with the perpetrator.
- Even if you don't intend to report it right away, gather evidence just in case.
- A report can be evidence in itself.
- Know the weight of stalking behavior and don't blame the victim. Stand instead in solidarity.