Stalking is a legal term for repeated harassment or other forms of invasion of a person’s privacy in a manner that causes fear to its target. Statutes vary between jurisdictions but may include such acts as:

  • repeated following
  • unwanted contact (by letter or other means of communication)
  • observing a person’s actions closely for an extended period of time
  • contacting family members, friends, or associates of a target inappropriately
  • cyber stalking

The United Nations in 2003 regarded stalking a crime against humanity.

Some astonishing facts about stalking:


  • According to National Center for Victims of Crime 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men are stalked during his/her lifetime
  • More than 1 million women and 370,000 men are stalked each year
  • 87% of stalkers are male. 94% of female victims had male stalkers and 60% of male victims had male stalkers
  • 52% of stalking victims are 18-29 years old
  • On an average, stalking continues for 1.8 years; 2.2 years if the stalking involves intimate partners.
  • Only 23% of female victims and 36% of male victims are stalked by strangers.

Types of stalkers

Psychologists tend to group stalkers into two categories: psychotic and nonpsychotic. In “A Study of Stalkers,” Mullen et al (2000) [7] identify six types of stalkers:


  • Rejected stalkers: pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
  • Resentful stalkers: pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
  • Intimacy seekers: The intimacy seeker seeks to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. To them, the victim is a long sought-after soul mate, and they were meant to be together.
  • Eroto-manic stalker: This stalker believes that the victim is in love with them. The erotomaniac reinterprets what their victim says and does to support the delusion, and is convinced that the imagined romance will eventually become a permanent union. They often target a celebrity or a person of a higher social status. Though it is important to note, not all celebrity stalkers are eroto-maniacs.
  • Incompetent suitor: despite poor social/courting skills, possess a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their amorous interest.
  • Predatory stalker: spy on the victim in to prepare and plan an attack – usually sexual – on the victim.

The stalking was criminalized first in the state of California in 1990 by the enactment of a law. Seven years later almost every state in the United States has a law on stalking.

The act and definition of stalking vary from state to state. Some consider stalking illegal as it stands while some consider it illegal only when it becomes threatening.

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