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According to the Supplemental Victimization Survey (SVS), individuals are classified as stalking victims if they experienced at least one of these behaviors on at least two separate occasions. In addition, the individuals must have feared for their safety or that of a family member as a result of the course of conduct, or have experienced additional threatening behaviors that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
The SVS measured stalking behaviors as:
- making unwanted phone calls
- sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails
- following or spying on the victim
- showing up at places without a legitimate reason
- waiting at places for the victim
- leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers
- posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
The federal government, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories have enacted criminal laws to address stalking. The legal definition for stalking varies across jurisdictions:
- State laws vary regarding the element of victim fear and emotional distress, as well as the requisite intent of the stalker.
- Some state laws specify that the victim must have been frightened by the stalking, while others require only that the stalking behavior would have caused a reasonable person to experience fear.
- States vary regarding what level of fear is required.
- Some state laws require prosecutors to establish fear of death or serious bodily harm, while others require only that prosecutors establish that the victim suffered emotional distress.
- Interstate stalking is defined by federal law 18 U.S.C. § 2261A.
- In 2006, an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking
- About half (46%) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week, and 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more.
- The risk of stalking victimization was highest for individuals who were divorced or separated—34 per 1,000 individuals.
- Women were at greater risk than men for stalking victimization; however, women and men were equally likely to experience harassment.
- Male (37%) and female (41%) stalking victimizations were equally likely to be reported to the police.
- Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).
- 46% of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next.
- Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.
- More than half of stalking victims lost 5 or more days from work.
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|Violence, crimes of
||Rape, sexual assault, personal robbery, or assault. This category includes both
attempted and completed crimes. It does not
include purse snatching and pocket picking. Murder is not measured by the National Crime
Victimization Survey because of
an inability to question the victim.
Completed violence - The sum of all completed rapes, sexual assaults,
robberies, and assaults. See individual crime
types for definitions of completed crimes.
Attempted/threatened violence - The unsuccessful attempt of rape, sexual
assault, personal robbery, or assault.
Includes attempted attacks or sexual assaults by means of verbal threats. See individual
crime types for definitions of