Domestic violence situations may also involve stalking of the victim by an estranged partner. This may involve repeated, unwanted phone calls meant to harass the other spouse, showing up to a spouse's place of work uninvited, or sitting outside your spouse's house (perhaps in your car). The methods used to stalk someone are less important than it being a pattern of malicious behavior.
This article explores stalking and domestic violence, the link between the two, and laws meant to protect victims and potential victims of these offenses.
Stalking: The Basics
Stalking is typically defined as a pattern of behavior meant to cause fear or apprehension in the victim. It usually involves the following:
The National Institute of Justice defines stalking as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear," with "repeated" meaning on two or more occasions.
Generally, there are three main types of stalking:
Domestic violence stalking fits into this last category and is usually perpetrated by an ex-spouse or lover, employer, or co-worker.
Stalking and Domestic Violence: State Laws
Stalking laws vary greatly from state to state, with some requiring a minimum of two acts (or other proof that the event was not an isolated occurrence) and others specifying that the threat of harm must be imminent. Some states also classify activities such as lying-in-wait, surveillance, and non-consensual communication as stalking.
The following examples of state legislation on stalking illustrate differences in definitions of (and punishment for) stalking and domestic violence legislation:
Seeking Relief From Stalking and Domestic Violence: Restraining Orders
If you're the victim of domestic violence or stalking, you'll probably want to consider filing for an order of protection (i.e. restraining order). The laws and procedures for obtaining a protective order vary by state.
Concerned About Stalking and Domestic Violence? Get Professional Legal Help
If you or someone you love is in danger of stalking or domestic violence, be sure to contact law enforcement right away. If you have questions about the stalking laws in your state, it is best you speak with a skilled family law attorney who specializes in domestic violence cases.