What is Stalking?

Stalking is unwanted pursuit, following, or harassment. Two common features of stalking are that the actions are not wanted and they threaten or cause fear.

Stalkers can have a variety of motivations, including intense feelings of affection or dislike or the feeling that their ex-partner belongs to them after a break-up. 

According to California law, a stalker is:

"Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family" California Penal Code 646.9(a)

If you are being stalked, you may experience: 

  • hypervigilance, anxiety or feeling "on edge" about what the stalker might do. 
  • vulnerability, including feeling unsafe or distrustful of others.
  • depression, withdrawal from other people or activities, reduced motivation.  
  • anger or irritability. 
  • difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
  • changes in eating or sleeping patterns. 
  • flashbacks, intrusive or disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories.
  • confusion, frustration and isolation because other people don't understand why you are afraid.

Identifying Potential Stalkers

What kinds of behaviors might qualify as stalking?

  • following
  • obsessive behavior
  • inappropriate approaches & confrontations
  • unwanted telephone calls
  • threats
  • threats to family and friends
  • unwanted letters
  • unwanted or threatening gifts
  • damage to property
  • physical assault
  • unwanted e-mail
  • appearing at place of residence, school, or work
  • sexual assault

Warning signs:

  • extreme jealousy
  • following
  • threats
  • physical or verbal abuse
  • damage or destruction to your property
  • makes your friends or family feel scared or uneasy
  • offers of unsolicited help
  • refused to accept no for an answer
  • switches between rage and "love"
  • unable to cope with rejection
  • falls instantly in love

Get Help

What can you do?

Stalking may be unpredictable and is dangerous. What works for one person may not work for another, but there are some steps that you can take to increase your safety.

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, take steps to respond to that feeling.
  • Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
  • Contact a CARE Advocate. Your Advocate can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about laws and policies, provide options such as seeking a protection order and refer you to other services.
  • File a report with law enforcement or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
  • Develop a safety plan. This might including things like privatizing social media or campus contact information, making changes to your routine, identifying alternative housing options and making decisions about what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else.  
  • Set firm boundaries with the stalker and then do not communicate further with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
  • Consider getting a court order or a campus no-contact/stay away order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
  • Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.
  • Document everything. Be sure to include dates, locations, times, and any exact words that you can remember. Keep voicemail messages, especially those that might include threatening or inappropriate messages. Keep any letters, notes, other writings, and any objects or gifts sent to you. Communicate with friends and family about the importance of keeping your personal information private. 
  • Maintain a current and accurate record of ALL contacts and behaviors that may be related to the crime. This information may help when identifying the threat, applying for restraining orders, custody issues or pursuing criminal prosecution. It can also help to preserve memories of the events in case you are later called upon to testify.
  • Download the Stalking Incident Log to assist you in your documentation, or create your own with similar categories. Keep track of all phone calls, letters, e-mails, visits, acts of vandalism, or contacts through third parties. Attach a photograph of the stalker(s), photocopies of restraining orders, police reports, and other relevant documents. When reporting incidents to law enforcement, record the officer's name, badge number and case number.  You should attempt to be as complete as possible in your record-keeping and avoid storing the record in a place that might be accessible to the stalker. Tell only someone you trust where you keep your log.

Important note: Since this information could potentially be introduced as evidence or shared with the stalker at a future time, do not include any information that you do not want the stalker to see.

More Information