Stalking and Harassment are Crimes in South Carolina!
Stalking or harassing a current or former intimate partner is a form of intimate partner violence. Like other abusive techniques, stalking and harassment are intended to gain power and control over another person through intimidation and fear.
- concerned about constant texts, e-mails or calls after you've asked the sender to stop?
- finding false information about yourself on the internet?
- frightened because your former or current boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse seems to always know where you are or what you’ve said or written to others?
Stalking is an under-reported crime whose dangers are often underestimated.
South Carolina law defines harassment as a pattern of intentional intrusion
into a person’s private life that serves no purpose and causes the person
(and would cause a “reasonable person”) mental or emotional distress.
Harassment includes surveillance of a home, workplace or other frequented location; leaving unwanted gifts; maintaining unwanted physical or visual contact; property damage and/or repeated verbal, written or electronic contact.
Stalking is a pattern of conduct or words (verbal, written or electronic) that serves no purpose and is intended to cause a person (and would cause a “reasonable person”) to fear death to, injury to, kidnapping of or property damage to the person or a member of his/her family.
Both stalking and harassment can cause high levels of anxiety and fear, stalking trauma syndrome, missed work and forced relocation.
Women comprise 78% of stalking victims. Of those, 77% know the stalker and 59% are current or former intimate partners.*
Stalking or harassment which begins after the break-up of an intimate relationship can be the most dangerous. Not only does the stalker know the victim’s routines, but he/she may do anything to regain control.
If you are being stalked or harassed:
- Take the behavior seriously. There is no way to know if a stalker will become violent.
- Notify the person to stop contacting you. Keep a record of that notification.
- After that, DO NOT contact the harasser—it may encourage the behavior and increase the risk to you.
- File incident reports with law enforcement. Continually document times and types of all contacts; record names of witnesses, print out e-mails and photograph anything that could be used as evidence such as the stalker’s vehicle driving by your home or any property damage.
- Request that a magistrate issue a restraining order. The earlier a stalker is confronted officially, the more likely he/she is to obey the restraining order. If the stalker is a current or former intimate partner, ask CODA for help.
- Limit the information you post on social media sites and increase your privacy settings. Ask friends not to post information about you. Block access to any “friends” who may talk about you to the stalker. Do not share your passwords with anyone!
- Change your phone number, e-mail address, and passwords. Leave your old e-mail and phone contacts active, however, as a way to gather evidence. Alter your routine as much as possible. Alert your workplace security.
- If you find a GPS unit on your vehicle, photograph it in place and bring it to law enforcement to check for fingerprints and identifying serial numbers.
- Get an individual cell phone plan (not a family plan); disable photo geotagging or ask your provider if it offers untraceable cell phones to victims of stalking.
*National Center for Victims of Crime - Stalking Resource Center (www.ncvc.org)