This online brochure from the HELP Brochure Series of the federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) addresses the characteristics of the offense of stalking, identifies victimization needs that frequently occur as a result of stalking, and provides information on services available for stalking victims and how to access them.
The brochure states that stalking is generally understood to be "a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear." Stalkers use a variety of actions to frighten, harass, and control their victims. These may include following the victim, driving by the victim's place of employment or school, sending unwanted gifts or communications, and threatening to hurt the victim or the victim's family. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and at the federal level. A stalking victim may experience a variety of emotional, physical, and financial consequences due to the stalking. Among victim harms that may stem from the stalking and the particular tactics used by the stalker are feeling vulnerable, unsafe, and constantly alert to what the stalker may do next. Many victims fear that the stalking is never going to end, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness, fear of the future, isolation, and anger. The brochure advises victims to take seriously all stalker threats and contact a local victim services agency or a domestic violence or rape crisis program, since they often serve victims that face stalking as an aspect of their victimization. Victims are advised to collect evidence of the stalker's actions to facilitate law enforcement intervention. The brochure also discusses the use of a protective order or other court order that prohibits the stalker from contacting or being near the victim.