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News | Jan. 26, 2024

Stalking Awareness: Know the Signs and How to Respond

By Jessica Hanley Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division

January is designated as National Stalking Awareness Month, an annual call to action to recognize and respond to the serious crime of stalking. The Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division would like to raise awareness and educate others about the dangers of stalking, the various types of stalking, how to report an incident, and how to protect yourself against this criminal offense.

What is Stalking?

Stalking is defined as “a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress," (Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center (SPARC)). Stalking affects millions of people in the United States alone.

“Stalking involves a perpetrator’s use of a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics that are both unwanted and cause fear or safety concerns in a victim,” CDC website.

The idea that stalking is only a physical crime is a frequent one; in reality, stalking can also occur online, a practice known as "cyber stalking." Text messages, emails, and social media posts can all be used as platforms for cyberstalking. Learning how to recognize and identify stalking behaviors can keep you or someone you know safe.
Stalking tactics according to the CDC include:
  • Unwanted following and watching of the victim
  • Unwanted approaching or showing up in places, such as the victim’s home, workplace, or school
  • Unwanted use of global positioning system (GPS) technology to monitor or track the victim’s location
  • Leaving strange or potentially threatening items for the victim to find
  • Sneaking into the victim’s home or car and doing things to scare the victim or let the victim know the perpetrator had been there
  • Use of technology (e.g., hidden camera, recorder, computer software) to spy on the victim from a distance
  • Unwanted phone calls, including hang-ups and voice messages
  • Unwanted texts, emails, social media, or photo messages
  • Unwanted cards, letters, flowers, or presents

Identifying Stalking Behavior Patterns: Depending on your state’s stalking laws, two or more incidents can be considered a pattern. According to SPARC, some stalking behaviors could entail “unwanted contact, including phone calls, texts, and contact via social media; unwanted gifts; showing up or approaching an individual or their family or friends; monitoring; surveillance; property damage; and threats.” These actions, which involve intimidation, threats, or harassing behavior, may cause emotional distress to the victim.
Who can be targeted? Anyone can become a stalking victim. Typically, victims are stalked by someone they know, such as an acquaintance, a former partner, or even a family member. “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) reports that about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have been stalked at some point in their lives," CDC website.

Army CID Investigative Responsibilities for Stalking Offenses

It is important to note that stalking is a crime in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, the military, and tribal lands and is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 130 (Stalking) and United States Code § 2261A (Stalking). Army CID is responsible for the investigation of reported stalking offenses when there is a U.S. Army interest. This includes all reported stalking offenses that occur on the federal installation, regardless of the position or status of the individual involved, including service members, dependents, and civilians. If civilians are accused of the offense of stalking while on a federal installation, the Army CID will notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigate the alleged incident. For incidents taking place off federal installations that involve servicemembers, Army CID will investigate or assist the local law enforcement agency with the investigation.

Special Agent Matthew Haywood, division chief for the Family & Sexual Violence section at the Army CID headquarters, explained the importance of reporting stalking crimes.

“The crime of stalking is intentional, malicious, and dangerous.  Living in fear of a stalker is an atrocity that no one should have to suffer. If you feel that you or someone you know may be the victim of stalking, please do not hesitate to report it to your local CID or other law enforcement,” Haywood said.

Army CID takes this offense very seriously and works diligently to investigate all allegations of stalking. Working together as a community to end stalking is vital. By encouraging others to learn more about stalking, its effects and how to prevent a recurrence through programs and policies that reduce risk and foster good relationships, we can create a secure environment in our communities.

Need Help or Know someone that Does?

Contact your local service provider or a national hotline:
  • Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Additional resources for victims of stalking: Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center
Click here If you would like to submit a tip or report a crime to CID now.