Stalking is a crime in New York State. It is defined as one person’s unwanted pursuit of another person, and is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Both females and males can be stalking victims, but women have a much higher rate of being stalked.
Does the stalker ?
- Follow you, show up at your workplace, home, family/friends’ homes, school functions, when you attend? Repeatedly call you, hang up on you, send you unwanted letters, cards, emails, flowers or gifts?
- Damage your home, car, or other property?
- Try to control, track, or frighten you? and/or
- Threaten you, insist you speak with him, spend time with him, do want he wants?
TYPES OF STALKERS (Thank you to the NCVC for these definitions)
Simple Obsessional: most common type of stalker, usually male, a former boss, ex-spouse, ex-lover, who begins stalking after the relationship ends or there is a perception of mistreatment.
Love Obsessional: Stranger to victim stalker who begins a campaign of harassment to make the victim aware of the stalker.
Erotomania: Believing falsely that the victim is in love with him/her and, but for some external reason, they would be together.
False Victimization Syndrome: Rare situation where someone desires to be placed in the role of the victim, so constructs false tales of being stalked, and may in fact be the actual stalker.
Legal Definition of Stalking in New York State and the Penal Codes: www.stalkmenot.org/nylaw.html
Some basic safety precautions:
- Tell the stalker “NO” once and only once, and never provide him/her any reaction again. If you continue to communicate with him/her, s/he will believe that his/her actions will elicit a response. Never communicate with him/her again. If s/he calls you on the phone (cell, home and/or work) hang up when you hear his/her voice. Do not speak to him/her. If s/he sends you a letter, do not open it, send it back: Return to Sender. Do not accept any package you did not order, flowers when you do not expect them, etc.
- KEEP A JOURNAL AND DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Write down the calls, letters, third party contacts if s/he tries to have a message sent via a friend, family member or acquaintance, any presents or flowers (return unopened or not accepted), do not open emails or attachments and do not respond, but print and keep a record in a safe place with your journal.
- Block your address at the DMV and Voter Registration. Have an unlisted phone number and do not unblock your number unless you trust this person. Never give out your address or telephone number, and ask your family, friends, coworkers, and your employer to never give out this information out, and report to you if someone is requesting this information. Get a Post Office Box, and put this address on your checks, without your phone number. If the stalker somehow secures your phone number, do not change it. Purchase an answering machine that records messages and keep these recordings in a safe place. Have co-workers screen calls and visitors at work, and notify your workplace of the issue.
- Call the police with documentation, and continue to provide them with proof of the stalking.
- Contact your local domestic and sexual violence services agency like the VRC (315-331-1171), for additional assistance in documenting the stalking. Request they provide you with additional resources, referrals, and advocacy.
- Shred all your discarded mail.
- Purchase a cellphone and keep it with you at all times.
See Resources this website for information under “Additional Links and Telephone Numbers” for information on (if qualifying) free cellphone and service, and income eligible lower cost phone service.
- If you think you are being followed, go directly to the nearest police department.
- Purchase a dog; take a self-defense class; keep gasoline in your tank at all times; acquaint yourself with your community, area, school, and workplace; check your vehicle before entering and lock your car door once inside; always be aware of your surroundings; and alternate your routes to work or school.
- Change the locks on your doors and invest in an alarm system; and let your neighbors know you are having a problem so they are aware of any stranger around your home, apartment, or vehicle.
- Communicate with the police and if necessary, request an order of protection. If the stalker is a past significant other, contact your local domestic violence agency for assistance in filing a family offense petition in Family Court (New York State).
- If the stalking worsens, you may have to move to keep you and your family safe. You may have to change your social security number and/or your name.
- Remember that the stalker can use technology such as hidden cameras, or global positioning system via your phone or vehicle.
- Develop a safety plan for you and your family, at home, school, work, and in the community. See “Personalized Safety Plan” on this website.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines Cyberstalking as “the term to refer to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communication devices to stalk another person.” Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. Most stalking laws require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim; others include threats against the victim’s immediate family; and still others require only that the alleged stalker’s course of conduct constitute an implied threat. While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously. (USDOJ)
What To Do If You Are Being Cyberstalked
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