Stalking is an increasing problem. Stalking is defined as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear” (Tjaden and Thoennes,1998).
Stalking behaviors also may include persistent patterns of leaving or sending the victim unwanted items or presents that may range from seemingly romantic to bizarre, following or laying in wait for the victim, damaging or threatening to damage the victim’s property, defaming the victim’s character, or harassing the victim via the Internet by posting personal information or spreading rumors about the victim. As part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2005, Congress extended the Federal interstate stalking statute to include cyberstalking (18 U.S.C. §2261 A).
The overwhelming majority of stalking victims are women (78 percent), and the majority of offenders (87 percent) are men. Nearly 60 percent of women and 30 percent of men are stalked by a current partner (Tjaden and Thoennes, 1998). The Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that 3.4 million persons over 18 were victims of stalking in a one-year period. Baum et al, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, National Crime Victimization Survey, Stalking Victimization in the United States (January 2009). More than 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking was used, such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%). Id. at
In Ms. Magazine’s Blog, Shawna Kenney wrote a very informative post entitled, When Domestic Violence Enters Cyberspace. In the post Shawna aptly states that,”… technology adds a new element of fear to an abused person’s psyche. Haters spew malicious comments beneath YouTube videos, hiding behind screens and usernames; some make thinly-veiled death threats from the perceived safety of their blogs.” To read her compelling blog post, visit Ms. Magazine’s website at http://www.msmagazine.com.
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