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Stalking: What is stalking and what you need to know to stop it

It wasn’t long ago, in June, that Sandra Bullock made headlines associated with ‘stalking.’ The good news is that her story had a relatively quick and less-than-somber ending; fortunately.

Beyonce at the Alternative View: 2014 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - Day 2
Beyonce at the Alternative View: 2014 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - Day 2
Photo by Christopher Polk
More than 6.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States. (
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

TMZ and others took great care to share her ordeal and legal next-steps; so for the masses, fast forward to here:

  • Sandra Bullock was one of the recent celebrity victims of stalking, but according to The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), about 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization within their lifetime. For those who remain in the trenches – the domestic violence, sexual assault, legal, law enforcement, and other advocates - this is almost a daily conversation.

In Missouri, the crime of stalking involves a course of conduct (pattern), credible threat, and an element of harassment that causes fear. While no two cases are exactly the same, here’s a typical scenario: A former dating partner starts showing up in places you don’t expect (or want) them to be; they begin to track where you go, who you go with, etc. If that scenario causes you to become afraid, that’s stalking. That’s one scenario, however stalking can occur among strangers, as in Sandra Bullock’s case, but also between co-workers, acquaintances, friends, sexual and nonsexual dating partners, co-parents, and other relationships.

Stalking is not only frightening, it’s usually unpredictable, not something that simply stops, and known to escalate. Although stalking tragedies occur among strangers, three out of four women who were murdered by an intimate partner had been previously stalked by the person who killed them.

With stalking statistics in mind: If you (or others) become concerned about being followed, are afraid to go out alone, have started changing your daily routine, or taken similar measures, be sure to tell someone you trust, a person or agency in your community who might be able to assist you with safety planning or someone from your law enforcement or legal community.

For additional resources:

Some content updated May 2015.

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