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In October of 2021, the first person convicted under federal cyberstalking laws in Nebraska was sentenced to a year in prison. This provides a good opportunity to remind clients and the community that January is National Stalking Awareness Month. We are committed to being part of the necessary community-wide response to this underrecognized form of intimidation and assault.
What is stalking?
The general definition of stalking is “a pattern of behavior targeted at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear,” and it is a crime!
Nebraska law 28-311.02 defines harass as “to engage in a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously terrifies, threatens, or intimidates the person and which serves no legitimate purpose.”
According to Nebraska law 28-311.03 “[a]ny person who willfully harasses another person or a family or household member of such person with the intent to injure, terrify, threaten, or intimidate commits the offense of stalking.”
What does stalking look like?
Stalking takes two primary forms of unwanted contact:
- Real world behaviors, including:
– showing up at or breaking into your workplace, home, or car
– threatening your safety or life
– injuring or killing a pet
– sending unwanted and repetitive phone calls, texts, mail, or gifts
– threatening your family, children, or partner
– monitoring or surveilling you in person
Online behaviors, including:
– sending unnecessary, threatening, or abusive emails or texts
– monitoring or surveilling you through social media or trackers
Is there a relationship between stalking and Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence?
Yes! There is a strong correlation between stalking behaviors and domestic or intimate partner violence.
Stalking is not a behavior to be laughed off or ignored. At Hightower Reff Law, we’ve seen the emotional, mental, and physical consequences our clients have faced from stalkers, including:
Tracking devices placed on vehicles
Emails, texts, and phone calls coming at all hours of the day and night
Stalkers showing up at victims’ homes and workplaces
Threats to send nude photos to family, colleagues, and employers
Nude photos actually being sent to family members
Unwanted gifts being sent to victims
What are the consequences of stalking for the victim?
Stalking is not a short term behavior. The average length of a stalker’s campaign is 16 months, with some stalkers’ engaging in their illegal activities for 5 years or longer. This prolonged assault has mental and physical health consequences for the victim, including:
Loss of time at work or loss of a job
Moving to escape the stalker, which incurs a financial and emotional cost
Disruptions to eating and sleeping habits
Anxiety, fear, and hyper-vigilance
Changing behaviors to feel safe, including giving up hobbies, events, and social activities
Isolation- as the terror and anxiety occupy more of the victim’s time and energy, friends and family can drop away.
What can I do if I’m being stalked?
If you are being stalked, contact Hightower Reff Law to speak to an attorney. We care about your rights and your well-being!
Build a case against your stalker by starting a Stalking Log. This log will compile valuable and necessary information if you go to the police or hire an attorney to get a protection order.
Take advantage of community support that is available to you. Your stalker wants you to feel isolated and alone. You are not alone!
For additional resources, visit SPARC (Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center)
This article should not be construed as legal advice. Everyone has a unique case and it’s impossible to provide legal advice without knowing the facts unique to your situation.