Abuse can come in any number of shapes and forms. Though we tend to think of abuse as a physical act, it is not necessarily limited to that. When we think of domestic violence in particular, we tend to think of physical violence.
The question of stalking, however, becomes more muddied. Is stalking a form of domestic violence? Here is what to know about stalking, how it is defined, and what it may mean in terms of domestic violence.
What Is Stalking?
Stalking has been defined as a pattern of behavior that is meant to cause apprehension or outright fear in a victim. There are several acts that become commonplace when it comes to stalking. These can include:
Vandalizing a property, repeated harassing or threatening behaviors (frequent messages or calls, for instance), following a person, appearing unexpectedly at a place of employment or home, or any other kind of activity that can make a person fear for their safety.
Stalking has been defined as a course of conduct that has been directed at a specific person. It involves repeated physical or visual proximity; verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination of those; non-consensual communication; and anything that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
Different Types of Stalking
There are also a few different types of stalking as well. Simply describing everything as stalking can lead to misunderstandings, which is why classifying different types can help.
Erotomania. This is where someone has a delusional obsession with someone who is out of reach, oftentimes a celebrity or public figure.
Simple obsessional. This form of stalking involves someone who the stalker has either a prior or existing romantic or personal relationship with. This is most common in an instance where one party has been spurned or broken up with.
Love obsessional. Though simple and love obsessional can be sometimes misconstrued, there is one difference. The former involves someone that the stalker knows personally. The latter is stalking someone with whom the stalker does not know and who the stalker thinks that they are in love with.
Is Stalking Domestic Abuse?
When people think about domestic abuse, they generally think about sexual or physical violence. Given that the majority of domestic abuse cases center around one or both of those categories, it becomes easy to think that it is the only type of domestic abuse.
But the simple fact of the matter is that stalking is abuse. What type of abuse is stalking? It definitely falls under the umbrella of domestic abuse. Most people think that it involves striking someone but following someone without their consent is still abuse.
Whether it be following someone, showing up at their home or place of work, following them to errands, making threatening or repeated phone calls, even vandalizing property, all are considered to be a form of domestic abuse.
The exact definition of stalking can differ from state to state. If you feel like you have been the victim of stalking, it is important to discuss the various scenarios with an attorney. This is to ensure that your rights are protected to the best that they can be. Some behaviors can cause fear for one’s safety, which may qualify for stalking in a legal sense.
What to Do in the Case of a Stalker
If you find yourself in a position where you think you are being stalked, it can be all too common to let fear rule the day. There are a few common strategies that victims of stalking should be implementing.
Keep evidence but stop communication. Stopping communication with an abuser can actually be dangerous. That said, if you determine that you can cut off contact with the person doing the stalking, make sure that you keep any evidence.
Should there be criminal or court proceedings, having that evidence can mean the difference between them being allowed to walk and a potential conviction. If it is not safe to cut communication, then limit how much you talk to them while also talking to authorities or an attorney.
Carry a phone with you. Because stalkers can seemingly be anywhere at any time, having a form of communication is vital. Keep your phone on you so that you can call for help. If you feel as though you are in immediate danger, call 911 right away.
Trust your instincts. One of the biggest mistakes that people make with stalkers is questioning their instincts. If something doesn’t feel right with someone that you know, or they make you uncomfortable, reach out for help or attempt to distance yourself.
Have a safe place in mind. When there is a stalker in the mix, you should absolutely have a safe place to go. Whether it be a public area, police station, family or friend’s home, or place of worship, think about it in advance and keep that location in mind.
Stalkers are looking to isolate their victims into a one-on-one situation. Whenever others are introduced into the mix, it will make the stalker feel uncomfortable. They will more often than not leave when there is a presence of others. It can be ideal in a situation that feels threatening to escape to a safe place, allowing time for action to be taken by the person being stalked.
Stalking can feel like a gray line from a legal perspective. But the simple fact of the matter is that stalking is abuse. Is stalking a form of domestic violence? It will fall under the umbrella of domestic abuse in most states, though the laws vary.
If you feel as though you are currently the victim of stalking, contacting the authorities and an attorney should be the first things that you do. Personal safety becomes of the utmost importance when stalking seems apparent.