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Learn the Facts About Stalking

What is Stalking?

While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time.

Stalking Victimization

  • 6 million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. 



Using a less conservative definition of stalking, which considers any amount of fear (i.e., a little fearful, somewhat fearful, or very fearful), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men reported being a victim of stalking in their lifetime.
  • The majority of stalking victims are stalking by someone they know. 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
  • More than half of female victims and more than 1/3 of male victims of stalking indicated that they were stalked before the age of 25. 



About 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 14 male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • Repeatedly receiving unwanted telephone calls, voice, or text messages was the most commonly experienced stalking tactic for both female and male victims of stalking.

Source: [Michele C. Black et al., “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report,” (Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).]

  • 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
  • 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
  • 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology (such as e-mail or instant messaging).
  • 10% of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and 8% report being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices.

[Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).]

Criminal Psychologist, Dr. Michelle Ward, from Stalked: Someone’s Watching explains the different ways stalkers are categorized.

Stalking Laws

  • Stalking is a crime under the laws of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government. Click here for a compilation of state, territory, tribal, and federal laws.
  • Less than 1/3 of states classify stalking as a felony upon first offense.
  • More than 1/2 of states classify stalking as a felony upon second offense or subsequent offense or when the crime involves aggravating factors.

Aggravating factors may include: possession of a deadly weapon, violation of a court order or condition of probation/parole, victim under 16 years, or same victim as prior occasions.

For more information please visit: The National Center for Victims of Crime