Editorial: Call stalking what it is

Editorial Board

Stalking is often thought of as someone following another person around against their will. But this is just one form of stalking. It’s time we understand the various types of stalking — especially in today’s digital age — that are considered inappropriate behavior.

Constantly checking up on someone, leaving them unwanted things or consistently checking their social media may to some seem harmless or even healthy. But often these behaviors are not healthy and are a form of abuse. 

Everyone — friends, significant others, family members and strangers — should be granted their wishes for space and privacy. Communicating with someone who has expressed they don’t want you to communicate them is not OK, period.

In the digital age, these lines can be blurry. As a good rule of thumb, continuously looking to see where someone is at or what they are up to without their consent is not healthy behavior. Social media was meant to keep in touch with people, not to track people.

Stalking can make someone fear for their well-being and may occur within relationships. In fact, nearly 75 percent of stalking victims know their stalker, according to the Bureau of Justice.

Some survivors of abuse and stalking may not even recognize what is happening as inappropriate or unhealthy behavior. Women are more likely to be stalked; however, this crime affects all genders and a variety of age groups, according to the Bureau of Justice.

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health lists the following examples of stalking, though these are not the only cases:

  • Following or spying on someone
  • Sending someone unwanted electronic or written messages 
  • Calling someone frequently when they don’t want you to
  • Showing up uninvited at someone’s house, school or work
  • Leaving someone unwanted gifts
  • Damaging someone’s things
  • Threatening someone and/or their loved ones with violence

Stalking laws vary by state — Iowa’s law can be found here

As January is Stalking Awareness Month, we hope you’ll better recognize stalking and call the inappropriate behavior what it is.