Stalking, a new type of harassment

Stalking, a new type of harassment

The Anglo-Saxon concept stalking refers to a type of harassment somewhat "particular". It is a fairly new term, so its definition is still under construction. Even so, we can have some first strokes of its meaning.

Why is harassment somewhat particular? Calling by phone is not frowned upon, or send a letter or a message, or even make a gift. Although you can also get to follow the person. When these behaviors qualify as stalking would be covered by the dye of obsession. Call frequently, send hundreds of messages, letters, give in excess, follow someone everywhere. Even, in the most serious cases, one can be feared for the life of the harassed.


  • 1 Introduction to stalking
  • 2 Characteristics of Stalking
  • 3 Cyberstalking Features
  • 4 stalker / stalker profile
  • 5 Victim profile and consequences
  • 6 Bibliography

Introduction to stalking

The first definitions suggest that it is a syndrome and has been baptized as Pressing Harassment Syndrome. Those who suffer from it, both men and women, tend to obsessively pursue a person. Regardless of the persecutor's refusal, the stalker (this is what it is called in English) will focus its attention on the victim and it will not be easy for him to give up his efforts to persecute and harass her.

The origin of the term comes from hunting. The verb stalk it means approach a dam stealthily tried to remain hidden. This overwhelming approach to victim It can be in the form of phone calls, letters, messages, emails, gifts and even bothering her in public places or her workplace. In more serious cases, the victim could receive threats or suffer a violent act.

New technologies do not go unnoticed by stalkers Y to hack email or social media accounts Your victim may also be on your to-do list. In this case the term is used cyberstalking

Stalking Features

Villacampa Estiarte (2009) highlights the most characteristic aspects of stalking:

  • Repeated and intentional behavior. The acts of harassment must be repeated over time. Villacampa points out that this is because "The acts of harassment, individually considered, are not usually serious enough to support a response from the authorities". But what number of acts could be considered harassment? Pathé and Mullen (2000) set this number to at least ten unwanted communications in at least four weeks.
  • Obsessive Pursuit They seek physical, visual, direct or indirect proximity. Harassment behaviors can be: phone calls, send emails, gifts, letters, follow the victim or walk around your home. Also irrelevant or even socially accepted behaviors of being taken into account in isolation or of being appreciated by the recipient. Among the most serious behaviors that may constitute a crime we find threatening, subtracting property, defamation or false accusations, publication of intimate images of the victim, as well as assault or retention of the victim.
  • Regarding a person. The harassment behavior must be directed at a specific person.
  • Unwanted. The conduct is not desired by the victim, it is about"an unauthorized intrusion into your living space".
  • Create apprehension or is likely to cause rational fear. The conduct must be perceived as threatening or intimidating, producing such a feeling of discomfort and fear that influences the normal development of the victim's life. Gómez Rivero points out that "It is the monitoring of the victim, which generates a feeling of uneasiness in the face of a possible attack by his stalker but without knowing what kind of attack or what it is capable of. It could be an attack on his estate, his integrity physical, to his life or to his sexual freedom. It is precisely said ignorance about the what, the how and when what generates greater damage to the vital development of the victim ".

Features of the Cyberstalking

The cyberstalkingDue to its technological nature, it has a series of different characteristics than stalking physical. García González (2010) prepares a list of the most outstanding features:

  • Invisibility. The anonymity provided by the network creates a sense of impunity in the aggressor that leads him to the perception of enjoying power and freedom. García González highlights that "The fact of knowing ourselves anonymous disinhibits us: we are able to do or say things that would not take place outside the network".
  • Absence of direct contact with the victim. This absence of contact translates into a lower perception of the damage caused and difficulty in empathizing with the victim.
  • Legal helplessness. Absence of fast and effective protection mechanisms for the victim.
  • Invade seemingly secure privacy settings such as the family home. You can develop a feeling of protection from the victim.
  • It is public harassment. It opens up to more people quickly and it is easy to invite other people.
  • Ease of diffusion, reproduction and accessibility. Internet is always "open", it has no schedules. You only need a computer or smarthphone with Internet access.

Profile of stalker/stalker

According to the research article of Villacampa and Pujols (2017) most stalkers are males. Bjerregaard (2000) states that sex is related to that of the victim. According to an investigation by the author, "While women tend to be mostly harassed by men, men are victimized by both men and women".

Villacampa and Pujols They point out that 80.6% of men act alone, while women prefer to act in groups. The authors point out that "specifically, they intervened jointly with other women in 45.7% of cases (20% with another woman and 25.7% with 3 or more women), acting alone in 42.9%."

The authors also stand out regarding the sex of the stalkers in case of group harassment (three or more people) which is "mostly perpetrated by mixed groups (44%), followed by groups formed only by women (36%) and only by men (20%)".

Victim profile and consequences

A general level, anyone can be the object of stalkingHarassment behavior can occur between two people who have had a relationship, but also with a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or a stranger. So that, the degree of intimacy with the victim does not have to be a distinctive fact.

The consequences on the victim can be multiple, from anxiety, stress, insecurity and fear. To all this is added a continuous feeling of drowning due to fear and fear for their physical integrity and feelings of persecution.

This can cause the victim to be forced to change their modus vivendi.That is, change the way you go to work, change your phone number, and even, in more extreme and serious cases, change your address.


BJERREGAARD, B. (2000). An Empirical Study of Stalking Victimization. Violence and victims, 15 (4), 389-406.

GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ, J. (2010). Cyberbullying: the criminal protection of privacy, integrity and sexual freedom on the Internet. Tirant lo Blanch: Valencia.

VILLACAMPA ESTIARTE, C. (2009) Stalking and criminal law: legal-criminal relevance of a new form of harassment. Iustel: Madrid.

VILLACAMPA, C. and PUJOLS, A. (2017). Prevalence and dynamics of stalking victimization in university population. Spanish journal of criminological research. Four. Five), 1-27.

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