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Stalking & Harassment

About the Iowa Victim
Service Call Center 

Being subjected to stalking or harassment can leave individuals feeling frightened, anxious, and profoundly unsafe.

The relentless nature of these behaviors can erode a person’s sense of security and well-being, leading to a range of emotional and psychological consequences. Victims may experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and fear, impacting their ability to function in daily life. Additionally, the constant threat of violence or harm can cause significant trauma, leading to feelings of helplessness, isolation, and despair. We are committed to raising awareness about stalking and harassment and providing support to those who need it. Whether you’re seeking information, guidance, or someone to talk to, we can help you.  


About Stalking 

Stalking is a pattern of unwanted and obsessive behavior that makes a person feel fearful, harassed, or in danger. It often involves repeated contact or surveillance, leaving the person feeling intimidated and vulnerable. 

Stalking behaviors can manifest in various ways, ranging from physical surveillance to online harassment. Here are some potential ways individuals may stalk their victims: 

Physical Surveillance: Stalkers may follow their victims, monitor their daily activities, and observe their whereabouts without their knowledge. This could involve loitering near their home, workplace, or other frequented locations, as well as tracking their movements in public spaces. 

Cyberstalking: With the prevalence of digital technology, cyberstalking has become increasingly common. Stalkers may use online platforms, social media, email, or messaging apps to monitor their victims, send threatening or harassing messages, or gather personal information. 

Unwanted Contact: Stalkers may repeatedly attempt to contact their victims through phone calls, text messages, emails, or letters, despite being ignored or told to stop. This persistent communication can be intimidating and disruptive to the victim’s life. 

Surveillance Devices: Stalkers may use surveillance devices such as hidden cameras, GPS trackers, or listening devices to monitor their victims’ activities and movements without their consent. These invasive tactics can violate the victim’s privacy and sense of security. 

Manipulative Behavior: Stalkers may employ manipulative tactics to control or intimidate their victims, such as spreading rumors, manipulating social relationships, or using emotional blackmail. This can create a climate of fear and uncertainty for the victim. 

Online Harassment: In addition to cyberstalking, stalkers may engage in online harassment by creating fake profiles, posting defamatory or threatening content, or publicly humiliating their victims on social media or other online platforms. 

Intimidation and Threats: Stalkers may use intimidation tactics or threats of violence to instill fear in their victims and assert control over them. This can include verbal threats, gestures, or acts of vandalism targeting the victim’s property. 

Unwanted Gifts or Gestures: Stalkers may attempt to manipulate their victims by sending them unwanted gifts, letters, or gestures of affection. While seemingly innocuous, these actions can be part of a larger pattern of obsessive behavior and control. 

About Harassment 

Harassment encompasses a wide range of behaviors intended to annoy, humiliate, or cause distress to another person. It can manifest through verbal threats, physical intimidation, unwanted messages, or other forms of persistent interference with someone’s life.  

Harassment can take many forms, both in person and online. Here are some examples: 

Verbal Harassment: This includes derogatory comments, insults, or threats directed at an individual. It can occur in person, over the phone, or through digital communication channels. 

Sexual Harassment: This involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It can occur in the workplace, educational settings, or social environments. 

Cyberbullying: Harassment conducted online or through digital platforms, such as social media, messaging apps, or online forums. Cyberbullying can involve spreading rumors, sharing embarrassing photos or videos, or sending threatening messages. 

Physical Harassment: This includes unwanted physical contact, gestures, or actions that invade someone’s personal space or safety. It can range from touching or grabbing or escalate to more severe forms of assault. 

Discriminatory Harassment: Harassment based on a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics. This can include derogatory remarks, slurs, or exclusionary behavior. 

Workplace Harassment: This encompasses any unwelcome conduct in the workplace that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive environment. It can include bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation for reporting misconduct. 

Harassment by Proxy: This occurs when a harasser enlists others to engage in harassing behavior on their behalf. It could involve spreading rumors, sending threatening messages, or carrying out other forms of harassment through third parties. 

These are just a few examples of harassment, and it’s essential to recognize that harassment can take many different forms and can be deeply distressing and harmful to victims 

How do Stalking and Harassment Differ? 

Fear plays a significant role in distinguishing between stalking and harassment. While both stalking and harassment can cause fear and distress, the level and intensity of fear often differ between the two. 

In harassment, fear may arise from the immediate or ongoing unwanted attention, comments, or behaviors directed toward the victim. The fear experienced in harassment tends to be more immediate and situational, often stemming from the discomfort and distress caused by the harasser’s actions. For example, a victim of verbal harassment may feel fearful or anxious in the presence of the harasser or when anticipating further encounters. 

In contrast, stalking instills a pervasive and enduring sense of fear and apprehension in the victim. Stalking behavior is characterized by its repetitive and obsessive nature, which can escalate over time, leading the victim to feel constantly watched, monitored, or threatened. The fear in stalking is often more profound and pervasive, as the victim may live in constant fear of the stalker’s unpredictable actions and escalating behavior. This fear can significantly impact the victim’s sense of safety, well-being, and quality of life. 

Ultimately, while fear is a common element in both stalking and harassment, the distinguishing factor lies in the level of persistence, intensity, and duration of the behavior, with stalking often evoking a deeper and more pervasive sense of fear in the victim. 


What To Do If You’re Experiencing Stalking Or Harassment 

If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking or harassment, please reach out to us for confidential support and assistance. These are distressing and often frightening experiences.

Whether you’re seeking information, guidance, or someone to talk to, our compassionate and knowledgeable advocates are here to assist you. When you call us, we can talk through some of these steps:  

Trust Your Instincts: If you feel uncomfortable, threatened, or unsafe, trust your instincts. Take any threats or unwanted behavior seriously and prioritize your safety. 

Document Everything: Keep a record of any incidents of stalking or harassment, including dates, times, locations, and descriptions of the behavior. Save any written or electronic communications, such as emails, text messages, or social media interactions. 

Set Boundaries: Clearly communicate to the harasser that their behavior is unwelcome and ask them to stop. Be firm and assertive in setting boundaries, and document any further contact or violations of your boundaries. 

Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or colleagues for support. Talking to someone you trust can provide emotional support and help you feel less isolated.  

Contact Law Enforcement: If you feel threatened or in danger, contact local law enforcement authorities immediately. Report the stalking or harassment and provide them with any evidence or documentation you have collected. 

Safety Planning: Develop a safety plan to protect yourself from potential harm. This may include changing your routines, avoiding certain places or activities, and ensuring your home security measures are in place. 

Practice Self-Care: Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally during this difficult time. Engage in activities that bring you comfort and relaxation, and prioritize your well-being.