Stalking is one person's harassing, obsessive or threatening behavior towards another person. Any repetitive, unwanted contact between a stalker and a victim or any behavior that threatened or places fear in that person constitutes stalking. Each state defines stalking by its state legal statutes. Trust your intuition!
Is Stalking A New Phenomenon?
No--the history of stalking behavior is as old as the history of human relationships. Stalking has always been with us--what is new is that until recently, it was never labeled as a separate and distinct class of deviant behavior. Prior to its common usage and its designation as a crime, stalking was referred to as harassment, annoyance, or in some cases, simply as domestic violence.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, numerous high profile cases involving celebrities began to catch the attention of the media and public policy leaders. Only then did such behaviors begin to be described as "stalking." It wasn't until 1990 that California became the first state to pass a law which specifically made stalking a crime.*
Connecticut Stalking Laws
Stalking in the first degree: Class D felony -53a - 181c
(a) A person is guilty of stalking in the first degree when he/she commits stalking in the second degree as provided in section 53a-181d and
(a) he/she has previously been convicted of this section or section 53a-181d, or
(2) such conduct violates a court order in effect at the time of the offense, or
(3) the other person is under sixteen years of age.
(b) Stalking in the first degree is a class D felony.
Stalking in the second degree: Class A misdemeanor -53a-181d
(a) A person is guilty of stalking in the second degree when, with intent to cause another person to fear for his/her physical safety, he/she willfully and repeatedly follows or lies in wait for such other person and causes such other person to reasonably fear for his/her physical safety.
(b) Stalking in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
Stalking in the third degree: Class B misdemeanor -53a-181e
(a) A person is guilty of stalking in the third degree when he/she recklessly causes another person to reasonably fear for his/her physical safety by willfully and repeatedly following or lying in wait for such other person.
(b) Stalking in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor.
~Information provided by End Stalking in America, Inc.
Immediate Steps To Take If You Are Being Stalked
- Notify the police. The victim can report the offense to the police to keep stalking incidences on record, obtain a restraining order, or file criminal charges. Each of these options depends on the victim's situation, but it is important to alert the authorities.
- Notify the stalker to stop. Your attorney or you can send a registered letter to the stalker stating that the behavior must stop immediately.
- Do not attempt to communicate with the stalker. The stalker may interpret this as a form of encouragement.
- Tell someone. It is important that family and friends are aware of the stalker's behavior for your safety and theirs.
- Give friends, co-workers, relatives, and neighbors a description of the stalker. Ask them to watch for the stalker and document everything they see.
- Develop a support system. Do not deal with this situation alone. Keep in touch with friends and family who are supportive and understanding.
- Never underestimate the stalkers potential for violence. Take threats seriously. Not all threats are verbal; nonverbal threats include sending unwanted notes, cards, gifts, etc.
- Document the stalker's behavior.
- Save all written material. Save and date all cards, letters, notes, and envelopes from the stalker.
- Keep all legal documents. Obtain and keep copies of warrants, protective orders, court orders, etc.
- Use an answering machine to screen calls. Get an unlisted phone number. Have emergency numbers posted by the phone.
- Inform others that they are to provide no one with information about you.
- If you are being followed, go to a safe area. DO NOT DRIVE HOME. Drive to the nearest police station or a busy place. Use your horn to attract attention.
*Information provided by the Counseling Services and The National Center for Victims
of Crime Connecticut State Stalking Laws
For more information, please contact the Women's Center at (203) 392-6946.