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Stalking

Special Feature
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Overview

Stalking is generally defined as a pattern of behavior that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

It is unpredictable and dangerous, and no two situations are alike. Stalkers use a variety of actions to frighten, harass, and control their victims. Examples include following a person, persistently sending unwanted messages or gifts, and tracking an individual’s whereabouts using GPS technology.

In 2016, an estimated 3.8 million people age 16 or older in the United States were victims of stalking, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Nearly 7 out of 10 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity, according to the BJS report, and females were stalked more than twice as often as men. Stalking victims most commonly reported experiencing stalking behaviors that included both the use of technology and traditional stalking, which includes following and watching.

While legal definitions vary from one jurisdiction to another, the federal government, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia have criminal laws to address stalking.

Supported by the National Institute of Justice, the Violence Against Women Research Consortium has published a series of training videos and resources that cover stalking laws and best practices for law enforcement and prosecutors in stalking investigations.

Each year, January is recognized as National Stalking Awareness Month, an annual call to action to recognize and respond to the crime of stalking.

Visit the following pages for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal agencies:

Date Modified: December 22, 2021
Date Created: August 14, 2020