What is stalking?
Stalking is defined as the willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing of another person that creates fear, sadness, anxiety and threatens the safety of the other person.
Stalking behavior is any conduct that is used by a person to affect his or her victim. Every stalking situation is different, but there are a few common tactics that stalkers may employ, including leaving frequent messages, waiting in areas the victim frequents, and giving unwanted gifts. These behaviors may escalate into violent attacks.
Types of stalking
This is a list of some of the most common forms of stalking.
Domestic: stalking a former spouse or former partner This is the most prevalent kind of stalking and one which can manifest in the workplace, putting innocent bystanders at risk.
Predatory: serial predators who stalk victim after victim. Serial rapists and murderers may begin as predatory stalkers.
Desire for intimate relationship: an acquaintance, coworker, neighbour, etc. who desires an intimate relationship with the victim, but is rebuffed.
Celebrity: those who stalk famous people.
Political: stalking motivated by political beliefs, which could include either agreement or disagreement with the victim.
Hit (murder for hire): stalking of a victim by a hired killer in order to commit murder.
Revenge: an angry former employee, an aggrieved business partner, a resentful neighbour, a vindictive relative, or any other person—usually known to the victim—whose motive for stalking is payback.
Are there stalking laws in Ireland?
At the moment, there are no specific stalking laws in Ireland. We are hoping to change this.
Signs of stalking
There are many signs of stalking - someone may stalk you by following, calling, texting, sending messages over social media, showing up at your place of work, home, or repeatedly showing up at places you are known to go. Below is a list of some of the most common signs.
Lurking Around Your Workplace or Neighbourhood
Are you constantly bumping into the same person after work or at the shop?
Does he park next to you or near you on the street?
A “watcher” follows you from a distance. They gather personal information about you, your friends and family.
They may photograph you, ask your friends about you or collect information from other sources such as public records or online research firms. Some go so far as to hire a private detective to follow you in an attempt to learn every detail of your private life.
If you feel you’re being watched, or you often recognize the same person in a crowd, you may be under the surveillance of a stalker.
Repeated Phone Calls, Texts or Messages Onlines
Numerous phone calls, texts or messages from someone you aren’t seeing socially on a regular basis can spell danger.
How much is too much? Multiple messages every week from someone you know only casually is likely reason to worry. Calling can take the form of hang-ups or long silences on your voicemail too. Messages online may be anonymous.
If you know who the person is, tell him or her firmly to stop. If the calls persist, keep a log of the times he or she calls and inform the Gardaí through Protective Services Units.
Giving Inappropriate Gifts
Some stalkers start out by sending unwanted flowers or gifts. When their affections are not returned, they may escalate the situation by sending more gifts, including those that are inappropriate or sexual in nature.
A typical tactic is to send the gifts to your office. This causes you embarrassment and distress as you’re forced to acknowledge the gifts to your peers, even if only to say you have no idea who sent them.
Some stalkers follow up their gifts by calling to see if you received them. If you have a company receptionist, ask him or her to screen deliveries for you and refuse those from your suspected stalker. The receptionist also may be able to describe the person who dropped off the package.
Anyone can experience a flat tire or breakdown, but many stalkers enjoy playing the hero. So they’ll create situations that require you to be rescued – just when they happen to be passing by.
These incidents can include a suspiciously sudden flat tire, a car that won’t start or running out of petrol unexpectedly. The stalker appears and gallantly changes your tire.
As tempting as their assistance may be, politely decline and tell the person you’ve already called for help and they’re on their way. Then find a safe place to wait.
Some hero-complex stalkers are even more subtle in their approach. They may follow you on a rainy day and offer the use of their umbrella. Or they may pick up your keys, then present them to you, saying you must have dropped them.
Stalkers look for any way to interact with their victims. Some even try to manipulate the object of their stalking into contact by threatening them with legal action. These legal tactics can range from the ridiculous to the ruthless. The stalker draws you into their orbit by forcing you to defend yourself.
Other forms of manipulation include threatening to hurt themselves, thereby forcing their victim to intervene. They may talk about suicide or vow to hurt someone else if you don’t return their affections.
If you find yourself being manipulated into behavior that you otherwise wouldn’t condone, you’re likely being stalked. You should make note of the incidents and report this to Gardai through the Protective Services Unit.
Using the Internet to Follow You
Some stalkers send emails and texts to their victim daily. Or they’ll leave Facebook, Twitter or Instagram messages and photos.
Internet stalking is often an extension of physical stalking, though not always. In some cases, the stalker may not even know the real identity of his victim. He may have only seen his or her profile on social media and become obsessed.
If you’re being harassed online, report what’s happening to the social media platform and take screenshots of all of the messages. You can report these to the Gardaí.
Isolating You From Loved Ones
Stalkers often try to isolate their victims from family and friends.They may share information designed to damage the person’s reputation (regardless of whether or not the information is true), hoping to alienate the victim from those closest to her.
When hurtful or damaging information is made public, your first reaction may be to withdraw. But that’s what your stalker wants. They will then try to move in, to offer support and comfort.
But don’t turn to your stalker for comfort, even if he seems to be the most sympathetic person in your life. Instead, do your best to stay strong and maintain your social circle.
Acting Violently or Threatening You
Using threats or violence to frighten their victim is a common strategy for some stalkers.
Your car may be vandalized or your home damaged. If you suspect a stalker is to blame, or if you receive threats or someone claims responsibility for the crime, report it immediately to the Gardaí.
The information you provide may help the Gardaí piece together evidence from the crime and take action against your stalker at the same time.
Perhaps no particular incident stands out in your mind as dangerous, but when you look at the entire picture, you’re alarmed.
Related crimes to stalking
In Ireland, stalking may be prosecuted as harassment under Section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
What is the difference between harassment and stalking?
The terms ‘stalking’ and ‘harassment’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but they can be significantly different.
Harassment is unwanted behaviour from someone else that makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened. Stalking, however, is more intense, sinister and distressing. Stalking is a pattern of fixated, obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent and intrusive. It causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim. Victims of stalking are often at risk of violence from their stalker
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