Stalking, a new type of harassment

Egbert Haynes
Stalking, a new type of harassment

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

Why is it somewhat particular harassment? Telephoning is not frowned upon, nor is sending a letter or a message, or even giving a gift. Although you can also follow the person. When these behaviors are classified as stalking, they would be covered by the tinge of obsession. Call frequently, send hundreds of messages, letters, give too much, follow someone everywhere. Even in the most serious cases, fear can be made for the life of the victim..


  • Introduction to "stalking"
  • Stalking Features
  • Cyberstalking Features
  • Stalker / stalker profile
  • Profile of the victim and consequences
    • Bibliography

Introduction to "stalking"

The first definitions suggest that it is a syndrome and it has been baptized as the Pressuring Harassment Syndrome. Those who suffer from it, both men and women, tend to obsessively persecute a person. Regardless of the refusal of the persecuted, the stalker (as he is called in English) will fix his 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 means to sneak up on prey while trying to stay hidden. This overwhelming approach to the victim can be in the form of phone flames, letters, messages, emails, gifts, and even making her uncomfortable in public places or her workplace. In more serious cases, the victim could receive threats or suffer a violent act.

New technologies don't go unnoticed by stalkers, and hacking into your victim's email or social media accounts may be on your to-do list as well. In this case the term cyberstalking is used. 

Stalking Features

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

  • Repeated and intentional conduct. Acts of harassment must be repeated over time. Villacampa emphasizes that this is because "the acts of harassment, individually considered, are not usually serious enough to justify a response from the authorities." But how many acts could be considered harassment? Pathé and Mullen (2000) establish this number in at least ten unwanted communications in at least four weeks.
  • Obsessive pursuit. They seek physical, visual, direct or indirect closeness. Harassing behaviors can be: phone calls, sending emails, gifts, letters, following the victim or walking around their home. Also irrelevant or even socially accepted behaviors to be taken into account in isolation or to be appreciated by the recipient. Among the most serious behaviors that can constitute a crime we find threatening, stealing property, defamations or false accusations, publication of intimate images of the victim, as well as assault or retention of the victim.
  • Regarding a person. The harassing conduct must be directed at a specific person.
  • Unwanted. The conduct is not desired by the victim, it is "a non-consensual intrusion into their living space".
  • Creates apprehension or is liable to provoke rational fear. The behavior must be perceived as threatening or intimidating, producing such a feeling of discomfort and fear that it 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 unease in the face of a possible attack by her stalker but without knowing what kind of attack or what he is capable of. It could be an attack on her assets. , their physical integrity, their life or their sexual freedom. It is precisely this ignorance about the what, how and when that generates the greatest impact on the vital development of the victim. ".

Cyberstalking Features

Cyberstalking, due to its technological nature, has a number of different characteristics than physical stalking. García González (2010) draws up a list of the most outstanding characteristics:

  • 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 "knowing that we are anonymous disinhibits us: we are capable of doing or saying 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. Lack of rapid and effective protection mechanisms for the victim.
  • It invades seemingly safe areas of privacy such as the family home. A feeling of helplessness of the victim may develop.
  • It is public harassment. It opens up to more people quickly and it's easy to invite other people.
  • Ease of diffusion, reproduction and accessibility. Internet is always "open", it does not have hours. All you need is a computer or smartphone with Internet access.

Stalker / stalker profile

According to the research article by Villacampa and Pujols (2017), most bullies are men. 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 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 the cases (20% with another woman and 25.7% with 3 or more women), acting alone in 42.9% only".

The authors also stand out regarding the sex of the stalkers in the 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 ( twenty%)".

Profile of the victim and consequences

At a general level, anyone can be stalked. Harassing behavior can occur between two people who have been in a relationship, but also with a friend, neighbor, coworker, or stranger. Thus, the degree of intimacy with the victim does not have to be distinctive..

The consequences for the victim can be multiple, from anxiety, stress, insecurity and fear. To all this is added a continuous feeling of suffocation 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 the university population. Spanish journal of criminological research. 4 (5), 1-27.

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