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Stalking is behavior wherein an individual willfully and repeatedly engages in a knowing course of harassing conduct directed at another person, which reasonably and seriously alarms, torments, or terrorizes that person. Stalking involves one person’s obsessive behavior toward another person. Initially, stalking will usually take the form of annoying, threatening, or obscene telephone calls, emails, or letters. The calls may start with one or two a day but can quickly increase in frequency.
Stalkers may conduct covert surveillance of the victim, following every move his/her target makes. Even the victim’s home may be staked out. Virginia’s anti-stalking laws may prevent some people from stalking, but this has not yet been proven. Many will stop after they have been arrested, prosecuted, and/or convicted. Unfortunately, laws do not stop most stalkers. Studies of stalkers indicate that they stop when their target is no longer available to them, or they find someone else to harass.
Know You are Being Stalked When…
If you come across any or all of the following occasions that are making you fearful, annoyed, or anxious, then you may be a victim of stalking:
Stalking can happen to anyone, male or female, and may also include your family members, friends, or co-workers. Stalkers may target casual acquaintances or random victims and can stalk their victims for days, weeks, or even years. The target can become a prisoner in her or his own home.
Most stalking takes place between people who have known each other intimately. Intimate partner violence stalkers, as a category, constitute the most dangerous and potentially lethal group of stalkers. Abusers often feel that their victims belong to them, are theirs to control or to punish for trying to leave, and rationalize their inappropriate behavior by blaming the victim of their obsession. Leaving an abusive relationship takes careful planning and implementation. A local domestic violence shelter can assist in developing a safety plan.
Here are some strategies that might help you fight back and regain some control of your life:
If you or a person you know believes they might be stalked:
In an emergency, always call 911.
Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department – 304.267.7000
Campus Security – 304.260.4380 ext. 2250
Martinsburg Police – 304.264.2100