When many of us think of stalking, we think of horror movies, serial killers, and strangers in the night. However, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of stalking victims are being followed and harassed by ex-spouses and former romantic partners. In fact, according to the National Institute of Justice, between 70 to 80 percent of all stalking instances happen in a domestic violence context, while one in twenty people will be stalked by an ex-partner during their lifetime. In the most tragic cases, stalking escalates to violence, such as assault, rape, and murder. In 90 percent of domestic violence murders, the victim was stalked before the murder took place.
What Constitutes Stalking Behavior?
• Contacting a person repeatedly against their wishes.
• Following a person or staying in close proximity to a person.
• Contacting or observing a person a their home, place of employment, or school.
• Making harassing or threatening phone calls or writing harassing letters.
• Damaging a person’s property.
Stalking is considered a form of domestic violence in Washington State. Unfortunately, lawmakers have struggled with the best way to effectively stop stalking behavior while also keeping the stalking victim safe. While many recommend protection orders or restraining orders for stalkers, some research has shown that a legal order to leave someone alone does not often protect the stalking victim from further abuse and possible assault.
If you are being stalked by someone you know, you are in a serious situation and need both legal and emotional support. Use the many domestic abuse resources available in Seattle and Washington State and talk to someone who can help extract you and your family safely from your situation. For more information, see our article on what you should do if you are being stalked.