Stalking is a serious crime that can leave a person feeling vulnerable and violated. It is a severe invasion of your privacy that can have a traumatic long-term effect on your feelings of safety and security. Stalking has been tied to both domestic violence and sexual assault, and victims are encouraged to take legal action immediately.
At Charles R. Ullman & Associates, our compassionate Raleigh family law attorneys have handled many types of cases involving stalking. We have helped countless clients obtain restraining orders to protect themselves from harassers. In fact, Mr. Ullman’s experience in these and other family law matters has earned him certification from the North Carolina State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization.
Schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable legal team now to learn what actions you can take to stop a stalker.
North Carolina’s Stalking Law
North Carolina’s law against stalking and harassment aims to protect victims and prevent this dangerous behavior from escalating. The law is intentionally broad so stalkers can be held accountable for a variety of activities that harass a victim and cause substantial emotional distress. The law states that:
A defendant is guilty of stalking if the defendant willfully on more than one occasion harasses another person without legal purpose or willfully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person without legal purpose and the defendant knows or should know that the harassment or the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to do any of the following:
- Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of the person’s immediate family or close personal associates.
- Suffer substantial emotional distress by placing that person in fear of death, bodily injury, or continued harassment.
Stalking may include a pattern of following, observing, or monitoring a victim. It can also include repeated threats, intimidating actions, or violent behaviors aimed at the victim. A perpetrator may take actions against a victim directly (such as making threats in person), indirectly (such as through emails or texts), or through a third party (such as having a friend follow the victim).
Examples of Stalking
Stalking can come in many forms. So it is important that you know your rights and what types of behaviors are considered stalking. If you are the victim of any of the following types of incidents, you need to speak with a knowledgeable restraining order attorney about your options:
- Repeated calls, even after you have asked the person to stop
- Harassing or threatening voicemails or text messages
- Harassment on social media
- Following you or spying on you
- Physically showing up at your home or job (including driving by)
- Sending unwanted gifts, letters, or notes
- Contacting your family members or friends
- Spreading untrue rumors
- Damaging or threatening to damage your home or other property
- Hurting or threatening to hurt your pets
- Physical or sexual assault (or threat of assault)
Victims may underestimate the seriousness of stalker behavior at first. However, these types of behaviors can quickly escalate. If you or a loved one is being harassed, do not hesitate to learn about your legal options.
Types of Stalkers
Stalkers are generally divided into five personality types. These are:
- Rejected stalkers are those who continue to seek a relationship after it has ended. They may want to continue the relationship or get revenge on their former partner or friend.
- Intimacy-seeking stalkers are infatuated with having an intimate relationship with their victim. They take any response from the person, positive or negative, as a sign of love.
- Incompetent stalkers understand their victim is not interested but think they can change that. They tend to have poor social skills.
- Resentful stalkers feel as if they have been done wrong and are seeking vengeance against the victim, whether they truly know the person or not.
- Predatory stalkers intend to assault the victim, whom they may or may not know.
A restraining order may be the first step toward protecting yourself from a stalker. However, depending on the severity of the circumstances, stalkers may also require court-ordered mental health treatment or incarceration.
Protect Yourself from a Stalker
There are a number of precautions you can take to protect yourself from a stalker. At Charles R. Ullman & Associates, we are here to help. We can help you file for a restraining order against your stalker and guide you on what to do if the person violates the restraining order.
In addition, you should:
Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about what is happening. They can help keep an eye out for the person who is harassing you.
Always keep your phone with you.
Keep your doors and windows locked at all times.
If you don’t have a peephole in your door, have one installed.
Park in well-lit areas.
Be aware of any landscaping or concealed spots where a person could hide.
Consider changing your phone number, Social Security number, or address.
Talk to law enforcement officials about evaluating your home for security issues.
Keep a record of any unwanted contact, including dates and times of calls, messages, and in-person confrontations.
File a report with the police to document every time your stalker contacts you.
Do not respond to any contact from the person.
You can obtain a restraining order against someone you have a personal relationship with, such as a former partner or family member, or against a stranger. Restraining orders against those with whom you have had a relationship are called Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO). Restraining orders against strangers or acquaintances are called Civil No-Contact Orders.