What is Stalking?
According to New South Wales Police: stalking is a crime, it is an offence under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. Stalking is defined under this law and includes:
‘the following of a person about or the watching or frequenting of the vicinity of, or an approach to a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity’.
Stalking involves a persistent course of conduct or actions by a person which are intended to maintain contact with or exercise power and control over another person. These actions cause distress, loss of control, fear or harassment to another person and occur more than once.
Stalking can involve threats or sexual innuendo and the stalker generally tries to intimidate or induce fear in the person they are stalking. The person being stalked may only realise they are being stalked once they identify a pattern of strange or suspicious incidents occurring, such as:
- phone calls
- text messages
- messages left on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter etc.
- notes left on the their car
- strange or unwanted gifts left at their home
- an awareness that they are being followed
- being continually stared at or gestured to by another person.
The person being stalked can often develop a sense of loss of control over their lives and can be forced into changing their routine and behaviours.
The criminal offence of stalking is contained under section 13 Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. To prove an offence of stalking the police must be able to produce evidence to a court. The police evidence must prove that the accused person stalked another person with the intention of causing another person to fear physical or mental harm.
Anyone can be a victim of stalking. People who engage in stalking behaviour do not necessarily need to be related to the victim.
If you are a victim of stalking, you need to understand that you are not responsible for the behaviour of the stalker and that you should not be blamed in any way. If you are a victim of stalking, you should report it to the police so that there can be an investigation.
If you have recently left an abusive relationship, you may be at risk of being stalked and you need to make sure you are aware of what to do if this occurs.
You may be a victim of stalking if someone is:
- Repeatedly following or spying on you
- Repeatedly calling your home and/or work
- Repeatedly sending you unwanted or offensive emails, letters, text messages etc.
- Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you
- Vandalising or damaging your property
- Threatening you or someone close to you
- Repeated showing up for no legitimate reason at places you go to. For example, the gym, dinner with friends, shopping, movies etc
Stalking is a crime. It needs to be reported to the police to prevent the offender from committing a more serious crime.