Stalking generally refers to harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly toward another. The National Violence Against Women (NVAW) Survey defines stalking as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear." In this definition, “repeated” means occurring on two or more occasions.
Both men and women may be victims or perpetrators of stalking, though it is most common for women to be targeted by male stalkers. NVAW data show that 78% of stalking victims are women, and 22% are men. Eighty-seven percent of the stalkers identified by both male and female victims were male.
The National College Women Sexual Victimization (NCWSV) survey (.pdf file requiring Adobe Acrobat)found that 13.1 percent of female college and university students had been stalked during the previous academic year, with 80 percent of the perpetrators known to their victims. Intimate partners, former partners, classmates, acquaintances, friends, or coworkers of victims are most frequently the perpetrators of stalking.
Stalking may cause distress, fear, or intimidation in those targeted. In addition to these psychological consequences, those who are stalked may also experience physical harm. For instance, the NCWSV study showed that in 10.3 percent of stalking incidents, the stalker forced or attempted sexual contact.
Stalking was at one time rarely addressed as a problem on campus. However, with the recent introduction of anti-stalking legislation, college and university administrators are beginning to acknowledge the gravity of this type of violence. Some campuses are teaming up with local and regional law enforcement to learn about stalking laws, which vary from state to state, and how to develop and implement anti-stalking policies and programs on campus. Campuses are also working to increase perpetrators’ accountability for stalking behaviors, and providing services, including counseling, for those who have been victimized by stalkers.