What is Stalking and How to Recognise It

What is Stalking and How to Recognise It

Whether you’re out walking alone or with a group of friends, it’s not a good feeling to have someone watching you over your shoulder.

Stalking is an unfortunately common crime that can have a big impact on your life. You may live in fear about what your stalker will do to you and feel constantly uncomfortable that your stalker will show up unannounced.

In most cases, you will know who your stalker is, but every case is different. Knowing what constitutes stalking is an important first step towards getting the help and legal support you need to stop this unwelcome behaviour.

Keep on reading to find out what stalking is and how you can recognise if it’s happening to you.

What does it mean to stalk a person?

Stalking is a type of harassment. It entails someone following you and making you feel uncomfortable. Normally this person will have an obsession with their target and will be extremely persistent in their attempts to follow them.

Your stalker may be obvious, constantly taunting you with what they are doing, or they may be more subtle and not attempt to have any sort of contact with you – nonetheless, being stalked can make you feel extremely uncomfortable and unsafe.

The four warning signs of stalking are when behaviour is fixated, obsessive, unwanted, and repeated. If you are experiencing any of the behaviours listed below, you are being stalked and you can report your stalker to the police.

What are stalking behaviours?

Some of the ways that a stalker can behave include:

  • Persistently following a target everywhere they go.
  • Cyberstalking, where a stalker will check their target’s internet use, emails, texts, or other electronic forms of communication.
  • Purposefully hanging around in certain areas they know their target often visits.
  • Persistently visiting their target’s home uninvited.
  • Watching and spying on a target.
  • Identify theft.
  • Interfering with their target’s property.

These behaviours are considered stalking when they happen more than once. Stalking could be carried out by someone you know; like an ex-partner or friend, but it could also be someone you’ve never met before – either way, stalking is a criminal offence.

What is the most common type of stalking?

Not all stalkers are the same. There are different reasons why they begin stalking their victim – some with more sinister motives than others.

Some of the most common types of stalking include:

  1. The rejected stalker: The most common type of stalking. This is where someone will stalk a target as a form of revenge or reconciliation. This is common with former partners.
  2. Intimacy-seeking: Where someone wants an intimate relationship with their target and may have delusions about the nature of the relationship.
  3. Resentment: A stalker who wants to make their target feel uncomfortable due to facing some sort of mistreatment.
  4. Predatory: A stalker who intends to inflict violence or sexually assault their victim.
  5. Incompetent: A stalker who is trying to build a relationship with their target but is doing so in socially incompetent ways.

What to do if you’re being stalked

If you’re being stalked, it’s important to know that it is never your fault. No one deserves to feel uncomfortable living their life. You can rely on the legal system to protect you if you do feel unsafe due to a stalker.

If you are in immediate danger and believe that your stalker is an imminent threat to your safety, you must call the police on 999.

If you are not in immediate danger, you can still report your stalker to the police, just not through the emergency number.

You can either report through online reporting services, call 101 which is the non-emergency hotline and is staffed 24/7, or you can visit your local police station to speak to an officer in person.

The police will be able to help. They can take steps to prevent your stalker from following you, either by putting in place things like a restraining order or detaining the stalker, depending on the severity of their actions.

Legal support for stalking

If you have become the victim of stalking, the law is on your side and there is plenty that can be done to prevent your stalker from being able to make contact with you.

If you’d like legal support from experts, get in touch with National Legal Service. Our team of experienced solicitors who will be able to guide you through the process of reporting your stalker and applying for the correct orders against them to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

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Shaoli has been a solicitor at NLS for over two years, transitioning from a background in criminal law to full-time family law. Her experience as a Criminal Duty Solicitor has equipped her with unique skills that are invaluable in her current role.
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