What is stalking?
Stalking is a public health problem that affects millions of women and men in the United States. Stalking occurs when someone repeatedly harasses or threatens someone else, causing fear or safety concerns.
Stalking tactics can include:
- Making unwanted phone calls
- Sending unwanted emails, instant messages, text messages, voice messages, or social media messages
- Approaching a victim or showing up unwanted, such as at the victim's home, workplace, or school
- Leaving strange or potentially threatening items for the victim to find
- Watching, following, or tracking a victim
- Sneaking into the victim's home or car and doing things to scare the victim or let them know the perpetrator had been there
Technology has made communicating with others easier than ever, but those advances have also created more options and choices to threaten and harass victims. Most victims are commonly stalked by someone they know, such as an intimate partner or acquaintance.
How big is the problem?
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) reports that about one in six women and one in 17 men have been stalked at some point in their lives.
While most women and men first experience being stalked as adults, approximately 21% of female victims and 13% of male victims reported being stalked as minors. Nearly 54% of female victims and 41% of male victims experienced stalking before the age of 25.
What are the consequences?
Men and women who were stalked are very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed as a result. About 68% of female and 70% of male victims experienced threats of physical harm during their lifetime. Approximately half of victims, 51% of male victims and 52% of female victims, experienced damage to personal property or belongings.
Studies have shown that stalking can lead to psychological distress, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How can we stop stalking before it starts?
It is important for everyone to work together to end stalking. NISVS findings highlight the importance of early prevention and support efforts, which can include:
- Empowering everyone to understand, recognize, and address stalking
- Mobilizing men and boys as allies in prevention efforts
- Creating and supporting safe environments within relationships, schools, and communities through programs and policies that reduce risk and promote healthy relationships
Need help? Know someone who does?
Contact your local service provider or a national hotline:
- Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 En Español
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Additional resources for victims of stalking are available at the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center.
- The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010-2012 State Report [4.32 MB, 272 Pages, 508]
- National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2015 Data Brief
- Basile, K.C., Arias, I., Desai, S., & Thompson, M.P. (2004). The differential association of intimate partner, physical, sexual, psychological, and stalking violence and posttraumatic stress symptoms in a nationally representative sample of women. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17(5), 413-421.
Content last updated January 11, 2021