What is Stalking?

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Stalking is a crime.  Under the Crime (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, stalking includes the following of a person about or the watching or frequenting of the vicinity of, or an approach to a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any activity.

Stalking involves a persistent course of conduct or actions by a person which are intended to maintain contact with, or exercise power and control over another person.  These actions cause distress, loss of control, fear or harassment to another person and occur more than once. 

Stalking can involve threats or sexual innuendo and the stalker generally tries to intimidate or induce fear in the person they are stalking.  The person being stalked may only realise they are being stalked once they identify a pattern of strange or suspicious incidents occurring, such as: 

  • phone calls
  • text messages
  • messages left on social networking sites (My Space, Face book)
  • notes left on their car
  • flowers left at their home
  • an awareness that they are being followed
  • being continually stared at by another person.

The person being stalked often develops a sense of loss of control over their lives and is forced into changing their life routine and behaviours.  

Stalking is committed when a person: 

  • Intentionally and persistently
  • Without legitimate reason
  • Engages in a course of conduct directed at another specific person
  • Against their will
  • This causes the other person to develop fear, or to believe that harm would come to them

Simply this means that whatever intentional actions the stalker takes to put you in fear can be considered stalking when it occurs more than once and against your will. 


Victims of Stalking

Anyone can be a victim of stalking.  People who engage in stalking behaviour can be a former intimate partner, acquaintance, stranger, relative, spouse, etc. 

If you are a victim of stalking you need to understand that you are not responsible for the behaviour of the stalker (known as the offender) and that you should not be blamed in any way.  Read through the information contained here and make a report to the police so that they may initiate an investigation. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey 2005, released in 2006, identified that “men and women who had experienced violence during the last 12 months were more likely than those who had not experienced violence, to have also experienced stalking or harassment during this time.”  (ABS Personal Safety Survey 2005)  This means if you have recently left an abusive relationship that you may be at risk of being stalked and you need to know what to do if this occurs. 

You may be a victim of stalking if someone is: 

  • Repeatedly following or spying on you
  • Repeatedly calling your home and/or work
  • Repeatedly sending you unwanted emails, letters, faxes, text messages, etc.
  • Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you
  • Vandalising or damaging your property
  • Threatening you or someone close to you
  • Repeatedly showing up for no legitimate reason at places you go to, eg. the gym, dinner with friends, shopping, movies

Stalking is a crime.  It needs to be reported to the police so they may assist in preventing the stalker from committing a more serious crime such as assault, sexual assault, domestic homicide, or cyber theft of identity.   


Recording incidents of stalking

It is important for you to document all incidents of possible stalking and to report them to the police.  Your local Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO) is available to help you and if they are unavailable, then any police officer at a station can take the report. 

If you think you are being stalked it is essential that you keep a diary of incidents including the date, time, what happened, names of any witnesses, etc.  If someone is intimidating you through technology then you need to keep any emails, letters, faxes, SMS messages sent to you. 

Do not delete or erase emails and text messages as these may be used as evidence.  Keep copies of everything so you can provide police with full details about how you are being stalked.  Save any packages or gifts that you receive from the stalker.  Handle these carefully in case they can be used to obtain forensic evidence. 

Even if you do not want to pursue charges at this stage, it is important that you record all incidents in case you change your mind in the future.  Documenting every incident will assist the police in making a stronger case. 

Important Fact

Stalking often involves a long term pattern of events which is why each and every incident you experience must be recorded and reported to police.  One incident on its own may not appear to be associated with stalking, so each incident has to be recorded and reported so that police can identify if there is a pattern occurring.  Make a record of every incident of stalking, no matter how many there are. 

A good way to document incidents of stalking would be to keep a stalking incident log.  This could include the following information: 

STALKING INCIDENT LOG

 

Victim Information
Name of victim (your name):
Gender:
Date of Birth:
Address:
Telephone numbers including home, work and mobile:
Email address:
Aboriginality or Ethnicity:
Language spoken:
Occupation: 
Do you have a current Apprehended Domestic Violence Order?:  Yes or No 

Offender Information (if possible provide police with a photo of the offender)
Name of offender:
Nicknames, aliases, street names:
Gender of Offender:
Date of Birth:
Address:
Other addresses where the offender might be located:
Telephone numbers including home, work and mobile if known:
Email address if known:
Aboriginality or Ethnicity:
Language spoken:

Offender’s occupation:
Offender’s employer:
Employer’s address:
Employer’s telephone number:

Car details if known (including registration number, colour, model, type): 

Does he or she have a weapon, and if so what type? Yes or No 

Is the person licensed to carry a firearm? Yes or No 

Do you know if the person is subject to an Apprehended Violence Order? Yes or No 

Do you know if he or she has been arrested in the past?  Yes or No 

If yes, what was he or she arrested for? 

Record each individual incident of stalking as follows:

INCIDENT No. 1:

Date:
Time:
Location:

Witnesses if any:
Witnesses contact details if known (including phone numbers):

Description of the incident (what happened): 

Messages, emails, faxes, letters, items left for you (keep all of these – the police may be able to use them as evidence): 

Reported to police at (name of police station): 

Name of police officer reported to: 

Date reported to police: 

Police event number (if known): 

Record each seperate stalking incident using the above format (i.e. Incident No 2:, Incident No 3: etc)


Enhancing your safety

Inform people you know that you are being stalked and ask them not to give out any information about you to other people.  This is so the stalker cannot get more information about you or your movements from them.  Let others know what is going on in your life, as an effective measure against stalking is to involve others in what is happening to you. 

Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)

The role of police is to protect victims of violence and to prevent further acts of violence against them.  This is generally done by police applying for an Apprehended Violence Order.  All AVOs have a standard clause to prohibit stalking and intimidation. 

If you have an Apprehended Violence Order, then make several copies and carry a copy with you at all times.  Keep one in your purse, wallet, bag and glove box of your car.  Make sure your family and friends know that you have a protection order (AVO) and what the conditions are. 

Legislation

The acts of stalking and intimidation are covered in existing legislation supporting police to take action against these crimes.  New legislation has recently been passed by Parliament and will be enacted in March 2008.  This new legislation will be called the Crimes (Personal & Domestic Violence) Act. 

Help is available so contact the police and regain control over your life. 

For further assistance contact the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.

 

Contact the DoCS Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63 if you are experiencing domestic violence.