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- This article is about the action: to stalk. "Stalk" also refers to a part of a plant; the longish piece that supports the seed-carrying parts of a plant, or, more simply, the stem.
- In mathematics, "stalk" usually refers to the idea of the stalk of a sheaf. Rarely, in the context of the Mandelbrot set, a stalk may refer to Pickover stalks.
- In hunting animals, stalking is a method of pursuing prey by moving quietly over terrain, as distinct from flushing or driving, stand-hunting, still-hunting or tracking an individual animal.
In modern legal definition stalking is repeated harassment or other forms of invasion of a person's privacy in a manner that causes fear to its target. It is essentially a course of conduct and particular acts include:
- repeated following;
- unwanted contact (by letter-writing, or other means of communication); or
- observing a person's actions extremely closely for an extended period of time.
- performance of actions or skits designed to frighten or terrorize. see Street theater
Many stalking cases come out of previous relationships, and are conducted by people who are otherwise considered "normal". A sizable minority of stalking cases, typically the more severe and lengthy ones, are sometimes done out of a pathological obsession or derangement. Stalking is often a form of psychological abuse.
Stalking may involve the intent to acquire private information or objects. Common victims of stalking include:
- ex-boyfriends/girlfriends (somebody stalking an ex-lover whom they want back, or even a present lover of an ex-lover, and other cases of unrequited love);
- people in highly visible or social professions, such as teachers, counsellors, doctors and celebrities (a fan stalking a celebrity, or public figure); and
- prominent dissidents, political or otherwise;
- whistleblowers, activists, revenge for hire (see also Gang Stalking)
Many other stalking cases are not sexually-motivated at all. It must be recalled that the essence of stalking is, besides as a means to obtain private information about someone else, sometimes a way of inflicting menace. This is a tactic commonly employed by underworld organisations against their enemies, and many unscrupulous debt-collection agencies employ underworld-associated people to use this capability to their advantage, often victimising the innocent.
Governments, particularly authoritarian ones, can also employ stalking as an obvious form of surveillance against criminals and people whom they perceive as enemies of the state. This tactic is often abused to repress dissent and opposition. It is not uncommon for the secret police to have an informant or a number of informants follow suspected dissidents and report on their activities. (See also police state.)
Revolutionaries, insurrectionists and terrorist groups use stalking as a method to spy on their enemies, often preparing in the meantime, a plan to kidnap or assassinate their target. The same applies to suspected traitors and whistle-blowers.
Trade unions may employ this tactic of picketing to pressure workers into participating into a strike or some industrial action, and some laws against stalking have addressed this behaviour. The original California version is an example. To be written
Laws on stalking
The 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. The first law to criminalise stalking in developed countries is the one in California, enacted in 1990. Within seven years thereafter, every state in the United States and some other common-law jurisdictions followed suit to create the crime of stalking, perhaps under different names such as criminal harassment or criminal menace. 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.
In 2000, Japan enacted a national law to combat this behaviour. However, the nature of the acts of stalking can be viewed as acts "interfering the tranquility of others' lives", and are prohibited under petty offence laws in China, made in 1987 (replaced by a new law, but the substance is preserved). Stalking, as in the context of organised crimes suppression, is expressly forbidden under Macau's laws.
Many young people misuse the term "stalk" as a synonym for mere information obtaining that may not be malicious albeit the term stalk really refers to a more "malicious" obtaining of information.
Gang stalking is a form of stalking by groups of people who follow an individual over a period of time. It is a form of psychological warfare and usually includes direct attempts to psychologically harm the target. The motivations for gang stalking are often revenge, and it can go on for years. The life of a gang stalking target can be utterly destroyed in the end.
www.gangstalking.ca explains that the reasons why a person is initially targeted can vary, and are limited only by the imagination. Many times stalking gangs may be lied to about the target, being told that the person is a deviant who deserves to be attacked. One person who feels they have been harmed by the target may try to vindicate themselves by rallying others to join in a campaign of revenge that becomes gang stalking. Often, group members will participate as a way of keeping themselves from becoming a target. "It is such a terrifying prospect because the gang members are intimately aware that the lives of the targets are utterly destroyed."
Gang Stalking & Usenet
Gang stalking using usenet groups is a particularly pernicious form of stalking in which the morality of the individual stalker is further diluted in technological anonymity and group consciousness. The unmoderated Usenet news groups, widely accessible by way of Google Groups and other ISPs, are widely known for its cyberstalking gangs, which derive enjoyment from harassing, defaming, and disrupting persons who voice unconventional wisdom or complaints on the Web. The unmoderated Usenet news groups offer hobby-hungry hatemongerers a headquarters from which to remain untraceably anonymous and form strategic alliances with other masked parties. What also makes these gangs dangerous is the division of labor among members with a wide range of skill sets. Members of the gang operating out of sci.psychology.psychotherapy, for example, have engaged in hacking, identity theft, and impersonation to menace their victims, even going as far as to recruit Usenetters from other news groups in the stalking and drag the family members of victims into the defamation. Gang members with criminal and/or psychiatric histories are called on to instill fear, and propaganda specialists and professional shills create and spam-advertise networks of search optimized Web-based dossiers. The dossiers and their dissemination throughout Usenet's news group and Web-based forums are designed to manipulate public perception of victims such that the results of a Google search on the victim's name will be front-loaded with false and unflattering information. Just what is possible in Usenet-based gang stalking?
1. Stalker A submits a spurious negative review of Victim A's book in Amazon.com's customer review section under the name of Victim B (impersonation). Stalker A illicitly procured the credit card number of Victim B to "authenticate" the spurious negative review (identity theft) in order to make it more difficult for Victim A, even with Victim B's assistance, to have the review expunged.
2. Even though Victim C's phone and residential address information has been unpublished for years, Stalker B uses Web-based commercial people data search services such as Intelius.com and peopledata.com to not only locate Victim C, but also a history of Victim C's residential addresses, which are then cross-referenced with other information to find the names and current locations of Victim C's parents, siblings, spouse, and roommates. A Web search and a Google Groups search on the name of Victim C's wife reveals 582 vulgar, libelous, and occasionally threatening messages that feign fly-on-the-wall knowledge of what went on in her career and her bedroom.
3. Stalker C impersonates Victim D by forging e-mails in Victim D's name while concealing / falsifying the IP source info to make Victim D appear like a spammer or a troll. Stalker C, using multiple aliases and e-mail addresses, and possibly some real confederates from the gang, bombard Victim D's ISP, Web hosting service, news group posting service, and possibly even law enforcement with false reports / complaints of abuse. Victim D's services are temporarily suspended until Victim D persuades services to examine the evidence and broader situation more closely.
Measures against stalking
Stalked public figures
Some stalkers have been following celebrities around since the advent of yellow journalism. In some cases, the stalking behaviour in question is quite harmless and does not go to extremes. In other cases, however, the celebrities being targeted:
- have to leave their profession for many years while they build a new life (e.g. Andrea Evans);
- have their homes constantly searched by political authorities when away, while often returning with a house surrounded by bugs and recording devices. They are also forced to live side-by-side with informants. (e.g Vaclav Havel)
- Are forced to leave the country to avoid being arrested or persecuted. (e.g Alexander Solzhenitsyn).
- become the victim of violent attacks (Theresa Saldana and Pope John Paul II survived to tell the tale, while others, like John Lennon and Rebecca Schaeffer, did not); or
- have resulted in dangerous incidents, killing or injuring the victim (e.g. Princess Diana- disputed-- and Viktor Yushchenko-- poisoned but survived).
- Article on stalking
- Benschop, Albert: Cyberstalking - Menaced on the internet. In: Sociosite - Peculiarities of Cyberspace.
- The Australian Anti-stalking and threat website
- Personal Protection Orders to stop stalkers
- Axis of Evil: Leveraging Google, Usenet in Gang Stalking
- Stalking Behavior
- Stalking Victims Sanctuary
- Sexual harassment and stalking support and resources
- Gang Stalking and Community based harassment
- Community and Technological based harassment
- No-Nonsense Self-Defense insights on stalker psychologyde:Stalking