When I lecture, one of the questions that I am most commonly asked is, “how do you know when you are being stalked?” My response is quiet simple, “when you find that the individual’s behavior that that is contacting or pursuing you becomes both unwanted and persistent.”
As to penal code definitions, we like to use the California Penal Code section 646.9 cpc. “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 is guilty of the crime of stalking.” If you are curious as to what the stalking section is in your state go to The Stalking Resource Center’s (National Center For the Victims of Crime) website. Click on Stalking Laws and look for your particular state’s penal code section. If you are from the U.K., E.U. or another country one of the best places to look up information on your stalking legislation/criminal or penal code, go to Stalking Risk Profile, http://www.stalkingriskprofile.com, click on What is Stalking, then Stalking legislation, then the section outlined in red entitled, International Anti-stalking laws.
A couple of things to keep in mind in regard to stalking. Stalking is a course of conduct crime. That means it is a compilation or evaluation of acts directed at a specific person that would cause emotional or physical distress or trauma to that individual. What we like to say if reviewed, would it cause the average man to believe that these acts would be detrimental or disturbing and cause fear or stress to another. So you do not have to have a direct threat like I am going to kill you. It can be what is called an implied threat developed over a period or course of conduct. Keep in mind that not all stalkers threaten their victims with death or violence. However, their behavior such as leaving a multitude of gifts, showing up at work or friends homes, following, and making repeated unwanted contacts either via phone or digital communication or some other way is considered a course of conduct that would follow under a stalking criminal code section. For example, Michigan’s course of conduct is defined as, ” a pattern of conduct composed of a series of two (2) or more noncontinuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose.” (Again for a more in depth look all this and much more is called out in my new book Antidote For A Stalker. That is why it is good to have a copy so you can follow or asked questions stimulated by information both in the blog and the book as well.)