What is it?

Women are significantly more often affected by stalking than men. Most offenders are known to the victims.

Stalking means following and harassing another person constantly. It could also commonly be described as “psychological terror”.

The phenomenon became more widely known due to celebrities who felt persecuted by fans. Today it is known that persecutions, harassment and psychological terror are widespread phenomena and that, generally speaking, all people can become stalking victims although women are significantly more often affected.

Even though some offenders are unknown to the victims, the majority of victims know the stalker. These are prevalently rejected men, ex-partners or ex-husbands, who do not accept the rebuff or separation. Temporary rage or lovesickness are not stalking though. This could only be called stalking if the pursuit is persistent. There is a smooth transition from harassing actions to stalking. Stalking can last months to years. A certain continuity and frequency of the stalking incidents are characteristic.

Stalking actions may be:

  • repeated phone calls at any time of the day and night, privately and at work;
  • messages on the answering machine;
  • frequently turning up in front of the victim’s residence, work, in the supermarket etc.;
  • sending letters, e-mails and text messages on a massive scale;
  • following the victim on her daily journey to work, to sports or to meet friends;
  • unwanted presents;
  • purchase orders or subscriptions in the victim’s name;
  • spying on her daily routine, social environment and personal data;
  • damage to property, e.g. the door, car, in the garden etc.;
  • burglary;
  • bodily harm;
  • etc.

Women are far more often victims of stalking than men. According to research, 17% of all women and 4% of all men become victims of a stalker once in their lifetimes in Germany (Dressing, Kuehner, Gass (2005).
The offenders come from all walks of life and belong to all age groups. Approximately 80% of offenders are men. About 80% of victims are women. The culprits are mostly ex-partners (Dressing & Gass 2005).