Fast Facts: Preventing Stalking

What is Stalking?
Preventing Stalking

Stalking is a public health problem that affects millions of people in the United States. Stalking involves a perpetrator’s use of a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics that are both unwanted and cause fear or safety concerns in a victim.

Stalking tactics can include:

  • Unwanted following and watching of the victim
  • Unwanted approaching or showing up in places, such as the victim’s home, workplace, or school
  • Unwanted use of global positioning system (GPS) technology to monitor or track the victim’s location
  • Leaving strange or potentially threatening items for the victim to find
  • Sneaking into the victim’s home or car and doing things to scare the victim or let the victim know the perpetrator had been there
  • Use of technology (e.g., hidden camera, recorder, computer software) to spy on the victim from a distance
  • Unwanted phone calls, including hang-ups and voice messages
  • Unwanted texts, emails, social media, or photo messages
  • Unwanted cards, letters, flowers, or presents

Using technology to socialize and communicate has its conveniences, but it can also make it easier for people to harass others in ways that might be frightening and threatening.

How big is the problem?

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) reports that about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have been stalked at some point in their lives.

While most women and men first experience being stalked as adults, approximately 24% of female victims and 19% of male victims reported being stalked as minors. Nearly 58% of female victims and 49% of male victims experienced stalking before the age of 25.

stalking How Big Is The Problem

What are the consequences?

Women and men who were stalked felt fearful, threatened, or concerned for their safety or the safety of others as a result of the perpetrator’s behavior. About 69% of female and 80% of male victims experienced threats of physical harm during their lifetime. Research has shown a relationship between stalking victimization and complaints of pain and poor current health status, injury, and chronic disease.

Studies have also shown that stalking can lead to psychological distress, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How can we stop stalking before it starts?

It is important for everyone to work together to end stalking. NISVS findings highlight the importance of early prevention and support efforts, which can include:

  • Empowering everyone to understand, recognize, and address stalking
  • Mobilizing men and boys as allies in prevention efforts
  • Creating and supporting safe environments within relationships, schools, and communities through programs and policies that reduce risk and promote healthy relationships

For more information about IPV, SV, and Stalking among men, please see Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking Among Men.

Need Help? Know Someone Who Does?

Contact your local service provider or a national hotline:

  • Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Additional resources for victims of stalking are available at the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center

See Preventing Stalking Resources for publications and prevention resources for stalking.

  1. Smith SG, Basile KC, & Kresnow M. (2022). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2016/2017 Report on Stalking [4 MB, 32 Pages]. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury
    Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Basile KC, Arias I, Desai S, & Thompson MP. (2004). The differential association of intimate partner, physical, sexual, psychological, and stalking violence and posttraumatic stress symptoms in a nationally representative sample of women. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17(5), 413-421.
  3. Logan T, Walker R. Toward a deeper understanding of the harms caused by partner stalking. Violence Vict. 2010;25(4):440-55.
  4. Morris M, Bailey B, Ruiz E. Pain in the acute aftermath of stalking: associations with posttraumatic stress symptoms, depressive symptoms, and posttraumatic cognitions. Violence Against Women. 2020;26(11):1343-61.
  5. Davis K, Coker A, Sanderson M. Physical and mental health effects of being stalked for men and women. Violence Vict. 2002;17(4):429–43.