Stalking is an act that encompasses a large range of behaviors, in which the main intent behind such actions is to force upon the victim a (typically unwanted) relationship with the perpetrator. Acts of stalking against another person can include obsessive phone calling, obsessive messaging (virtual or physical), physically harassing or threatening the victim, or vandalizing his or her property. Since the internet is such an integral facet of today's world, cyberstalking has become a coined phrase to describe a new form of this illegal behavior. Cyberstalkers will use the internet as their medium through which to harass the victim.
Physical and Psychological Effects
All acts of stalking arise a feeling of fear within the target of these acts. There are many physical and emotional effects that tend to take a toll on the victim's health. These include the following:
· Anger or annoyance
· Feelings of helplessness
· Intense fear
· Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
· Weight fluctuations
· Inability to sleep
Obviously, stalking takes a large toll on its victims. The list above is just a sampling of reported side-effects of having been stalked.
Legislation and Prosecution of Stalkers
Each year, there are an estimated 2 million felony and 4 million misdemeanor stalking acts. This number, obviously, is quite large. Research has shown that about one out of every twelve women and one out of every forty-five men will be stalked at least one time during their lives.
In 1990, California became the first state to make stalking a criminal act. Since then, the rest of the United States has passed the same or similar laws. Each state, however, varies in its stance on what warrants a criminal act. Some states only consider the act of stalking illegal if the stalker threatens or endangers the victim. Thirteen of the states consider the first charge of stalking only as a misdemeanor; every subsequent offense, however, is sentenced as a felony. Clearly, many people feel as though the punishment for stalkers in that state is not harsh enough.
Many stalkers do not realize the effects of their actions, or else they are not even aware that they are doing something wrong. Typically, stalkers tend to be blinded by their own feelings and sentiments to notice that they are having detrimental impacts on their targets. For more information on stalking, please visit http://kohlerandhart.com/
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