What is Stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted behaviour that causes a person to feel distressed or scared. It can be perpetrated by men or women. Stalking can happen with or without a fear of violence. Stalking usually occurs as a result of fixation or obsession. Stalking 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, stalking is not named as a crime in Ireland.
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
Do they park next to you or near you on the street?
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
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 may be anonymous.
If you know who the person is, tell them firmly to stop. If the calls persist, keep a log of the times they call and inform the Gardaí or Protective Services Units.
Giving Inappropriate Gifts
A typical tactic is to send the gifts to your workplace. 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 people who stalk follow up their gifts by calling to see if you received them. If you have a company receptionist or security, ask them to screen deliveries for you and refuse those from your suspected stalker.
These incidents can include a suspiciously sudden flat tire, a car that won’t start or running out of petrol unexpectedly. The person who is stalking might then appear and gallantly change 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.
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
Cyberstalking 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
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 the person who is stalking you for comfort, even if they seem to be the most sympathetic person in your life. Instead, do your best to stay strong and maintain your social circle and support network.
Acting Violently or Threatening You
The information you provide may help the Gardaí piece together evidence from the crime and take action against your stalker at the same time.
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 wrongfully used interchangeably, but they can be significantly different.
Harassment is unwanted behaviour from someone else that makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened.
Stalking behaviour is F.O.U.R: fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated.
Repeated: Stalking is a pattern of behaviour. It is repeated and will involve 2 or more incidents.
What is Cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk an individual, group, or organization. It is a course of conduct that takes place over a period of time and involves repeated, deliberate attempts to cause distress to the victim. It can include threats, identity theft, continuous, unwanted contact, false accusations, defamation and slander. It may also include monitoring or spying, vandalism, blackmail, unsolicited and/or inappropriate messages and/or pictures. People who cyberstalk may also create multiple accounts/pages/email addresses in order to make contact (directly or indirectly) with the other person.
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