Stalking is an increasingly common problem for women, particularly since the development of new technology, including cell phones and the Internet, that make communication, mass communication, harassment and intimidation easier for potential stalkers. Contrary to popular belief, most stalkers are not obsessed strangers, but are people (usually male) who have had a previous relationship (romantic or otherwise) with the victims. Because of this knowledge of their victims’ personal lives, threats and harassment often extend beyond the victims themselves to involve workplace harassment, friends, family members, personal property, and pets.
Fortunately, anti-stalking legislation has been updated in many states to address these situations. In Illinois, for example, two instances of unwanted contact, including repeated telephone calls – even if they do not end in a conversation – can constitute stalking behavior. Also, threatening to tamper with or harm one’s pet would be considered stalking behavior.
New cyberstalking laws address repeated unwanted Internet contact, such as email, facebook messages to the victim or her family and friends; indirect threats to family, friends, or personal property in blog comments; and publicly posting anything meant to torment or cause distress to the victim or anybody she knows.
Quite simply, people have the right to get on with their lives without fear of harassment. Just because somebody knows your telephone number, it does not give him the right to call it. Just because somebody knows your email, it does not give him the right to use it. And just because somebody knows your address, it does not give him the right to go there.
If you are being harassed, intimidated, or threatened, you have the right to contact law enforcement. Stalking is a felony.
For more information about stalking legislation and what you can do, visit the following links:
Illinois Stalking Laws-http://www.ifvcc.org/local/04/4th%20Circuit%20stalking%20handout%202.2010%5B1%5D.pdf
Stalking Resource Center: national and state-by-state information about stalking legislation and victims’ rights – http://www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=dash_Home
PrivacyRights.org – A lot of good examples of what constitutes cyberstalking, and what you can do to protect yourself. http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs14-stk.htm