AskDefine | Define stalking

Dictionary Definition

stalking adj : moving silently and deliberately; especially pursuing stealthily and persistently; "we watched the stalking tiger approach his prey"; "a stalking specter on the castle walls at midnight"


1 a hunt for game carried on by stalking or waiting in ambush [syn: stalk, still hunt]
2 the act of following prey stealthily [syn: stalk]

User Contributed Dictionary


Verb form

  1. present participle of stalk


  1. Hunting for game by moving silently and stealthily or by waiting in ambush
  2. The crime of following or harassing another person, causing him or her to fear death or injury

Extensive Definition

Stalking is a course of directed violence to a person that would cause him or her to feel fear. This includes following the person to certain places, to see where they live or what they do on a daily basis, it also includes seeking and obtaining the person's personal information in order to contact him or her; e.g. looking for his or her details on computers, electoral rolls, personal files and other material with the person's personal details without his or her consent. Personal details include her date of birth, marital status, home address, email address, telephone number (landline and mobile), where she works, or which school, college or university she attends; and personal information on her family and friends and any other sensitive and confidential information (e.g. medical conditions and disabilities etc.)

Psychology and behaviors

Stalking exists on several levels. Victims may or may not be aware that it is happening, and the perpetrators may or may not have malicious intent. Stalkers may even have a sincere but misguided belief that their victims love them, or have a desire to help the victims. Contrary to crimes that consist of a single act, stalking consists of a series of actions which in themselves can be legal, such as calling on the phone, sending gifts, or sending emails. Most cases of stalking never escalate to extreme levels of violence or harassment.
Stalkers will often denigrate their victims which reduces the victims to objects. This allows stalkers to feel angry at victims without experiencing empathy, or they may feel that they are entitled to behave as they please toward the victims. Viewing victims as "lesser," "weak" or otherwise seriously flawed can support delusions that the victims needs to be rescued, or punished, by the stalkers. Stalkers may slander or defame the character of their victims which may isolate the victims and give the stalkers more control or a feeling of power.
Stalkers may use manipulative behavior such as bringing legal action against their victims. They may also attempt to falsely label victims with mental illnesses. Stalkers may even threaten to commit suicide in order to coerce victims to intervene - all methods of forcing victims to have contact with the stalkers.
Stalkers may use threats and violence to frighten their victims. They may engage in vandalism and property damage (usually to victims' cars or residences). They may use physical attacks that are mostly meant to frighten. Less common are sexual assaults or physical attacks that leave serious physical injuries.
Individual Stalking can be done in the following ways:
  • Constantly emailing
  • Constantly having instant messenger conversations/chatroom conversations
  • Constantly writing letters
  • Following the person around
  • Following the person to his/her home
  • Finding out the person's address and where his/her home is
  • Constant phone calls and/or nuisance phone calls
  • Constantly taking pictures of him/her without consent in any form.
  • Tracing the person by looking up his/her personal information from any source (e.g noseying on electoral rolls, personal databases, looking in a phone directory etc)
  • Not leaving him/her alone when he/she has said no/they are not interested.
  • Invading privacy and personal space
  • Spying in any form whether by bare eyes and/or by means of cameras, scopes, binoculars etc.
In "A Study of Stalkers," Mullen et al (2000) identify five types of stalkers:
  • Rejected stalkers: pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
  • Resentful stalkers: pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims - motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
  • Intimacy seekers: The intimacy seeker seeks to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. To them, the victim is a long sought-after soul mate, and they were 'meant' to be together.
  • Incompetent suitor: despite poor social or courting skills, they have a fixation, or in some cases a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their amorous interest. Their victims are most often already in a dating relationship with someone else.
  • Predatory stalker: spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack - usually sexual – on the victim.
Many stalkers fit categories with paranoia disorders. Intimacy-seeking stalkers often have delusional disorders involving erotomanic delusions, or delusions that are secondary to a pre-existing psychotic disorder such as OCD and schizophrenia. With rejected stalkers, the continual clinging to a relationship of an inadequate or dependent person couples with the entitlement of the narcissistic personality, and the persistent jealousy of the paranoid personality. In contrast, resentful stalkers demonstrate an almost “pure culture of persecution,” with delusional disorders of the paranoid type, paranoid personalities, and paranoid schizophrenia. addresses acts which are termed "stalking" in many other jurisdictions. The provisions of the section came into force in August of 1993 with the intent of further strengthening laws protecting women. It is a hybrid offence, which may be punishable upon summary conviction or as an indictable offence, the latter of which may carry a prison term of up to ten years. Section 264 has withstood Charter challenges.


In China, stalking has been expressly forbidden since 1987 (now replaced by a new law, with similar substance), as in the context of organised crimes suppression, under Macau's laws.


In 2000, Japan enacted a national law to combat this behaviour, under the effect of Shiori Ino murder. Acts of stalking can be viewed as "interfering [with] the tranquility of others' lives", and are prohibited under petty offence laws.

United Kingdom

In England, stalking was criminalised by the enactment of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which came into force on June 16, 1997. It makes it a criminal offence, punishable by up to six months imprisonment, to pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another on two or more occasions. The court can also issue a restraining order, which carries a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment if breached. Already before the enactment of the Act, the Malicious Communications Act 1998 and the Telecommunications Act 1984 criminalised indecent, offensive or threatening phone calls and the sending of an indecent, offensive or threatening letter, electronic communication or other article to another person.
In Scotland, provision is made under the Protection from Harassment Act against stalking. It is not a criminal offence, however, but falls under the law of delict. Victims of stalking may sue for interdict against an alleged stalker, or a non-harassment order, breach of which is an offence.

United States

The first state to criminalize stalking in the United States was California in 1990 due to several high profile stalking cases in California, including the 1982 attempted murder of actress Theresa Saldana, the 1988 massacre by Richard Farley, the 1989 murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, and five Orange County stalking murders also in 1989. The first anti-stalking law in the United States, California Penal Code Section 646.9, was developed and proposed by Municipal Court Judge John Watson of Orange County. Watson with U.S. Congressman Ed Royce introduced the law in 1990. Also in 1990, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) began the United States' first Threat Management Unit, founded by LAPD Captain Robert Martin. Within three years thereafter, every state in the United States and some other common-law jurisdictions followed suit to create the crime of stalking, under different names such as criminal harassment or criminal menace. The Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) was enacted in 1994 in response to numerous cases of a driver's information being abused for criminal activity, examples such as the Saldana and Schaeffer stalking cases. The DPPA prohibits states from disclosing a driver's personal information without consent by State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 made stalking punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The law took effect on 1 October 2007. This law brings the UCMJ in line with federal laws against stalking. Laws against stalking in different jurisdictions vary, and so do the definitions. Some make the act illegal as it stands, while others do only if the stalking becomes threatening or endangers the receiving end. In England and Wales, liability may arise in the event that the victim suffers either mental or physical harm as a result of being stalked (see R. v. Constanza). Many states in the US also recognize stalking as grounds for issuance of a civil restraining order. Since this requires a lower burden of proof than a criminal charge, laws recognizing non-criminal allegations of stalking suffer the same risk of abuse seen with false allegations of domestic violence.

Effects of stalking

Stalking does not consist of single incidents, but is a continuous process. Stalking can be a terrifying experience for victims, placing them at risk of psychological trauma, and possible physical harm. As Rokkers writes, "Stalking is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwontedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim, with whom they have no relationship (or no longer have). Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect)."

For further reading

Stalking in media and literature

  • Who Was Educating Your Children: Article in the Three Village Times, legendary internet stalker David P. D'Amato stalks and harasses young men into making videos, then uses them against them on the internet. Was subsequently arrested but rumored to still partake in large scale cyber-stalking.
  • A website that focuses on the stalking activities of cyberstalker David D'Amato, but also has several anti-stalking resources and reference material.
  • The Bodyguard: film starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston where a stalker is obsessed with singer and actress Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston).
  • Boy Gets Girl: play written by Rebecca Gilman where a woman meets a man for a blind date and he eventually destroys her life.
  • The Cable Guy: film starring Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick, a cable installer develops an extreme attachment to a customer; ends up stalking him, believing customer to be a perfect match (intimacy seeker)
  • The Crush: film starring Alicia Silverstone as an underage girl who stalks a man who is renting from her parents (rejected stalker)
  • Devil in the Flesh: film starring Rose McGowan as a high school girl who stalks an English teacher whom she develops a crush on (intimacy seeker and rejected stalker)
  • Every Breath You Take: song by Sting, recorded and released by The Police in 1983, depicts the sinister motivations of a stalker. The song was written in the aftermath of Sting's break-up from his first wife. Ironically, this has become known as a love song.
  • The Executioners: novel by John D. MacDonald, and later two film adaptations titled Cape Fear; a lawyer and his family are stalked by a former client bent on revenge. (resentful stalker)
  • Eye of the Stalker: TV movie starring Jere Burns as a delusional legal assistant who believes that the daughter (Brooke Langton) of a judge (Joanna Cassidy) is a perfect match and that he is destined to marry her, based on a true story (intimacy seeker and rejected stalker)
  • Fatal Attraction: film starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, man is stalked by a woman with whom he had a brief affair (rejected stalker); A scene in this film is probably the origin of bunny boiler as a synonym for stalker, even though it took over five years to become a widespread allusion.
  • Gravitation by Maki Murakami is a manga that involves stalking.
  • Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison Story: television movie about a woman stalked by a coworker, and the case that set the "Reasonable Woman" precedent in sexual harassment law
  • I Can Make You Love Me aka Stalking Laura: television movie starring Brooke Shields and Richard Thomas, based on the real-life account of the stalking of Laura Black by her co-worker Richard Farley. Farley's stalking became so severe he went on to a murder massacre at the workplace.
  • Les Miserables: novel by Victor Hugo, with several film adaptations and a Broadway musical; ex-convict Jean Valjean is stalked for years by Javert, an obsessed police inspector; Marius displays stalker-like tendencies towards Cosette (he is her secret admirer)
  • Love Creeps: novel by Amanda Filipacchi; three people obsessively stalk each other and then change their stalking order.
  • Midwest Obsession: film starring Courtney Thorne-Smith as a beauty pageant winner who has a fling with a man who returns to his ex-girlfriend (Tracey Gold), commencing stalking of the couple which escalates to violence (rejected stalker)
  • Obsessed: film starring Jenna Elfman as a medical writer who is being tried for stalking a married doctor whom she delusionally believes has had an affair with her (erotomania)
  • Play Misty for Me: Clint Eastwood movie about the erotomaniac stalking of a radio celebrity
  • Possession (song): by Sarah McLachlan, said to be inspired by letters sent by an obsessed fan, Uwe Vandrei, who committed suicide.
  • Sleeping with the Enemy: novel by Nancy Price, and later a movie starring Julia Roberts; a woman escapes an abusive marriage, and is subsequently stalked by her violent husband. (rejected stalker)
  • The Stalking of Laurie Show: television movie based on the real-life account of the brutal murder of a Lancaster, Pennsylvania teenager, who was stalked by a jealous schoolmate
  • Swimfan: film starring Erika Christensen and Jesse Bradford, girl stalks boy after having a one-night fling (rejected stalker)
  • What About Bob?: film starring Richard Dreyfuss and Bill Murray, patient follows his psychiatrist on vacation, drives him crazy, wins the respect of his family, and makes him look like a loser to others. (Intimacy Seeker)
  • The Phantom of the Opera: book written by Gaston Leroux, Erik (the Phantom) stalks and later kidnaps the singer Christine. (Intimacy Seeker)
  • Poison Ivy: film starring Drew Barrymore
  • One Tree Hill: Hilarie Burton's character, Peyton Sawyer, was being stalked by an internet stalker ("WATCHMEWATCHU") who claimed to be her real brother at first. She tried to trust him, but Lucas caught on to the scheme. The character tried to rape her, but Lucas and the real Derek (her actual brother) came to her rescue. The imposter was arrested, but is now back again. Known as avid OTH fans as Psycho Derek.
  • Two and a Half Men: Charlie Sheen's character, Charlie Harper, is stalked by Melanie Lynskey's character, Rose. They had a one night stand and she was set out to become more than friends with him for the longest time. Recently, she has moved away and Charlie felt grief over said fact. However, her father, Harvey (Martin Sheen), was known to show the same behavior. Harvey had a one night stand with Charlie and Alan's mother (Holland Taylor) and began to stalk her in the exact same manner that Rose stalked Charlie.
  • Black Snow or Heide Xue (novel): Written by Liu Heng, the main character of Li Huiquan is an emotionally illiterate ex-con who becomes dangerously obsessed with a young nightclub singer. Set in contemporary Beijing, China.
  • Zetsuai & Bronze by Minami Ozaki is a popular BL long-running best-selling series "by girls, for girls" about a male singer who's childhood crush on a male soccer star he fell for as a kid, leads to assorted sexual harassment when the two meet in person years latter. Like most Japanese manga, the series romanticises stalking & rewards the attacker in the end when the victim becomes comfortable with his antagonist & stops running away. The series ended in 2007 & has two animated movies.
  • Stalker Girl a song by the Arrogant Worms detailing a girl with "abandonment issues" who won't leave the band alone.
  • Robert de Niro is widely known by his stalker characters in Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, Cape Fear and The Fan.
  • One Hour Photo, a movie by Mark Romanek with Robin Williams as Seymour 'Sy' Parrish, who stalk an entire family.
  • Down in the Valley, a movie with Edward Norton as Harlan, a "cowboy" who stalks a girl and her brother.
  • When a Stranger Calls.
  • Mirai Nikki is a manga series in which the main heroine, Gasai Yuno, obsessively stalks the main hero Yuukiteru.
  • P2: film starring Rachel Nichols and Wes Bentley, a woman is terrorized in a parking garage by a delusional man who is in love with her(Intimacy Seeker)
  • Prom Night, a movie in which a high school student is stalked on her prom night by a previous teacher who spent the last three years in prison for murdering her parents.
In the book El susurro de la mujer ballena (The whisper of the Whale woman" by Peruvian writer Alonso Cueto, the protagonist, Veronica, is stalked by an obese female classmate of hers, whom everyone mocked in her school days.
stalking in Czech: Stalker (osoba)
stalking in German: Stalking
stalking in Spanish: Stalking
stalking in Korean: 스토킹
stalking in Italian: Stalking
stalking in Dutch: Stalking
stalking in Japanese: ストーカー
stalking in Norwegian: Stalking
stalking in Simple English: Stalk
stalking in Swedish: Förföljelsesyndrom

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

chase, chevy, chivy, clandestine behavior, clandestinity, coursing, covertness, cynegetics, dogging, domiciliary visit, dragnet, exploration, falconry, follow, follow-up, following, forage, fox hunting, frisk, furtiveness, gunning, hawking, house-search, hue and cry, hunt, hunting, perquisition, posse, probe, prosecution, prowl, prowling, pursuance, pursuing, pursuit, quest, ransacking, rummage, search, search party, search warrant, search-and-destroy operation, searching, seeking, shadowing, shiftiness, shikar, shooting, slinkiness, slyness, sneakiness, sport, sporting, stalk, stealth, stealthiness, still hunt, surreptitiousness, tracking, tracking down, trailing, turning over, underground activity, underhand dealing, venery
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1