Stalking is a repeated pattern or course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a person to feel fear. Stalking may happen in the context of a relationship or could be perpetrated by someone the survivor does not know, although this most commonly occurs between previous partners. Regardless, if the action(s) make you feel unsafe, it could be stalking.
Examples of stalking may include:
- Following someone, showing up at your work/home/etc.
- Tracking location via social media/GPS (SnapMaps, FindMyFriends, etc)
- Surveillance, taking unknown photos/videos
- Repeated, unwanted contact (continuous phone calls, texts, DMs, voicemails, etc)
- Delivering unwanted items or gifts
- Using other people to make contact
- Property damage
In a 2020 survey, we found that 18% of Cal Poly students reported experiencing stalking behaviors, such as tracking, following, or unwanted contact. Importantly, 82% of those people didn't define their behavior as "stalking" - likely as a result of our romanticization and normalization of these behaviors in our culture.
Stalking is contextual. Consider the following scenario:
It's Tyler's birthday. They come home from work to find a bouquet of flowers on their porch with a note.
This might be considered kind, especially if it's from a friend, loved one, etc! However, consider the following additional details:
It's Tyler's birthday. They come home from work to find a bouquet of flowers on their porch... with a note from one of their regular customers at work who has made repeated sexually harassing comments every shift. Tyler has never told this customer where they live - now they're afraid he'll come back, and no longer feel safe at home.
As you can see, the same behavior becomes far more sinister when considering the additional context.
If you believe you are being stalked, you deserve support. Please view our What to do if… page and consider making an appointment with a Confidential Advocate at Safer.