The Protection Against Family Violence Act provides a definition of “stalking” means repeated conduct by a person, without lawful excuse or authority, that the person knows or reasonably ought to know constitutes harassment of a family member and causes a family member to fear for a family member’s personal safety. Stalking is when someone is following you, and you seen them repetitively wherever you go.
Section 264 of the Criminal Code states that criminal harassment can involve repeatedly following, communication with, watching, and or threatening a person directly or indirectly.
What do stalkers do? What are their common behavioral patterns?
- Someone is watching you and parking around you
- Watching where you work and live
- Sending you excessive or unwanted texts, emails, phone calls or visits
- Contacting people that you know whether family, friends and or co-workers and asking questions about you or your whereabouts
- Threatening behavior, like leaving notes on someone’s vehicle, at their home or their work place
- Damage to your home, car or other property
- Driving by your home, work, school
- Threatening to hurt you, your family and friends, and pets
- Other actions to control you, track you
- Searching your public records online search services
The perpetrators and victims of stalking
Research shows that the perpetrator of stalking can be intimate partners or former intimate partners. As per a Statistics Canada Report from 2009, female victims are more often harassed by a former (45%) or current intimate partner (6%). The Male victims are often harassed by a casual acquaintance (37%), by a former partner (21%) and by a current partner (2%).
In the United States, according to results from the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 6 women (16.2 percent) and 1 in 19 men (5.2 percent) in the United States have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime.
Cyber-stalking, what is it?
Cyber-stalking involves the use of information from the internet. Internet can be used in many ways to find out information and to harass you. The stalkers can use social networking websites such as most Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stalk their victims.
Safety types if you are cyber-stalked
- Turn your location off in your cell phone
- GPS data in photographs is known as geotagging, a geotagging photo is a photo that includes geographical location data obtained from a GPS included with a camera or a smartphone. When these photos are upload online, the photo can be placed onto a map to view the location where the photo was taken. In iPhone, there is a feature where you can turn the photo location off.
- Use a gender-neutral username and email when communicating online
- Do not use easy passwords – i.e. DOB , pet names address
- Use a combination of letters, symbols and numbers for your password
- Limit or avoid use of FB, Instagram – social networking websites
- Tell your friends not to post your pictures
- Only use computers that you trust are secure – use anti-virus
- Disable the GPS functionality on your camera and or cellphone
- Save and document everything
- Plan for safety
- Google your name – to know what info is available on the internet to the public
What should one do if being stalked?
- Tell the stalker assertively and communicate that you want their behavior to stop and set and maintain boundaries – don’t confront the stalker though if you do not feel safe
- Don’t be alone with that person – don’t isolate yourself
- Try not to walk alone
- Park in well lit areas where there are other people around
- Be active – a lot of people are walking and are focused on their cell phone, have no idea what is going around them. Be alert
- If you feel unsafe, then you should probably seek help. Take the threats seriously
- Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger; get an EPO, the local police can help you arrange for a no contact order, call them for help and support
- Talk to a trusted family member, close friend, teacher or counsellor; or
- Call the 24-hour Family Violence Info Line, toll-free in Alberta at 310-1818. Talk to trained staff over the phone toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in more than 170 languages at 310 1818
Can also go to court and seek an emergency protection order for your protection. If the police have enough evidence against a person, they will lay criminal charges and a judge, or the police will decide if the accused should be released. Regardless of how or when the accused is released, he/she will be ordered not to communicate with you or go near where you live, work, go to school or worship. Failure to follow these conditions will result in further criminal charges for the accused. If the police cannot lay a charge, they will direct you to seek and obtain a restraining order, which you can get from a civil court. Court can grant the protection order without notice to the respondent.
Date of Article: February 19, 2018
Prepared By: Sadaf Raja, Barrister & Solicitor