A pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.
Stalking and harassment are similar and can overlap. Harassment may be part of a stalking pattern of behavior/course of conduct.
Generally, the element of fear is what separates stalking from harassment. Harassment is typically irritating and bothersome, sometimes to the point where a victim feels deeply uncomfortable. However, victims of harassment are not typically afraid of their perpetrators.
For example, a colleague who consistently mocks a new coworker for her appearance may be harassing her by saying cruel things and sending disparaging e-mails. While the victim is distressed and may feel sad, anxious, angry and/or uncomfortable, she is not afraid of the perpetrator – she does not believe that the behaviors will escalate or that further harm will come to her. However, if that same perpetrator began calling the victim’s cell phone, following the victim and/or posting disparaging things about the victim online, it could become stalking.
As always, if you feel like you are being stalking, either call 911 immediately or reach out to our hotline to speak with one of our advocates: 970-949-7086.