Victims of stalking: free yourself from guilt

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Victims of stalking: free yourself from guilt

In 2022, according to Statista Around 21,436 cases of stalking were recorded in Germany, although the number of unreported cases is likely to be high. Stalking is therefore a serious problem in our society.

The tricky thing about the criminal offense of stalking is that it is very difficult to prove. This is a great burden for the victims, who are predominantly female. In the following, we would like to address the question of which behaviors specifically fall under stalking and how you can protect yourself.

Definition of stalking: what it means and what behaviors belong to it

The English term "to stalk" originates from the language of hunters and literally means to stalk, rush and hunt. In other words, stalking is the repeated stalking and harassment of an individual. The forms of stalking can vary from person to person. Stalkers are usually very imaginative in their methods of harassment and stalking.

But no matter what form the stalking takes, the victims feel massively restricted in their lives and experience immense suffering. The feeling of being constantly followed wears down the psyche in the long run.

Stalking predominantly begins harmlessly. Therefore, it is difficult for victims to prove a criminal offense. The borderline between legitimate efforts to establish a friendship or Relationship and criminal stalking is fluid. Typical behaviors in stalking include:

  • Constant calls, text messages and mails at any time of the day or night and at work
  • repeated long letters with unsolicited declarations of love, threats or insults
  • unwanted gifts
  • Contact via third parties
  • Questioning friends, family members and acquaintances of the victim
  • Constantly staying close to the victim, both in real life and online
  • Goods orders in the name of the victim
  • public insults and defamation
  • Intrusion into the apartment
  • Damage to property (e.g. slashed car tires)
  • Threats and coercion, also of a sexual nature
  • Assault
  • in extreme cases: manslaughter or murder

Important to know: It is especially difficult to prove stalking in the case of gifts, calls and letters. It is important that you first inform the person once you have clearly stated that you do not want any contact now or in the future. If this is repeatedly ignored, it is stalking even for supposed trivialities.

Stalking victims

Psychological and physical consequences for those affected

The effects of stalking can be massive and severely impact the victim's quality of life. The penetrative stalking not infrequently leads to Panic attackse.g. when the phone rings or the doorbell rings. After all, the victim must constantly fear that the stalker will ambush him again. The big Fear from the stalker can even end in a nervous breakdown.

If the persecution continues over a longer period of time, those affected usually feel as if they are trapped. It is hardly possible to live a normal everyday life anymore. This circumstance can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts or actions. The powerlessness experienced is often the worst thing for those affected, because it is not always possible to effectively stop the psychological terror.

It has long been scientifically proven that body and soul form a unity. For this reason, the physical consequences of stalking should not be underestimated either. The mental tension often leads to states of exhaustion, nightmares or psychosomatic complaints such as headaches or back pain.

Legal regulations: Legal consequences and protective measures against stalking

Stalking has been considered a criminal offense in Germany since 2007. According to Section 238 of the German Criminal Code (StGB), a person is liable to prosecution if he or she impairs the lifestyle of another person in a not inconsiderable way by stalking. Under the old legislation, however, it was up to the victim to prove the latter.

The victim often has to take life-changing measures such as moving house or changing jobs in order to prove that his or her lifestyle has been impaired in a way that is relevant under criminal law. As this fact has been widely criticized by victim protectors, the stalking paragraph will be adapted in 2017.

Since 2017, life-altering measures are no longer required as evidence. Impaired lifestyle is sufficient. To prove this, there are several indications. As circumstantial evidence, victims can present, for example, call logs, messages as well as medical certificates. In order to classify the behavior of an offender as stalking, continuous psychological pressure must be demonstrable.

Stalking: What is the penalty?

If a perpetrator is convicted of stalking, he or she faces the following consequences:

  • Stalking: fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years
  • in particularly serious cases: imprisonment from 3 months to 5 years
  • Stalking resulting in death: imprisonment from 1 year to 10 years

I have called my ex-partner several times: Did this make me liable to prosecution?

As mentioned above, the line between a legitimate attempt to establish contact with a person and the criminal offense of stalking is blurred. If you have told your ex-partner - from Heartbreak If you've been following him on the phone or sending him lots of messages at impossible hours, that doesn't make you a stalker.

According to the law, a single act of stalking, such as calling frequently, is not punishable on its own. What is decisive is the Overall picture of your actions. If these repeat themselves or gradually increase in intensity, this can affect the quality of life of the other person. When this point is reached, it is called stalking.

Prevention: Tips to avoid stalking or to recognize it at an early stage

In the vast majority of stalking cases, the perpetrators are not unknown to the victims. It is not uncommon, for example, that they are ex-partners who have a Separation cannot accept. Rejected friends or work colleagues who were hoping for a deeper friendship or even love relationship can also become stalkers.

If you have a bad feeling about a person or if there are memorable situations (e.g. sudden vows of love), you should pay attention. Most of the time you are wrong with your intuition correct. In order to recognize stalking at an early stage and ideally prevent it, the following measures can help you:

1. set limits

Parts of the person concerned once that you do not want any contact whatsoever. Do not engage in any further "clarifying conversations" afterwards.

2. Trust you to someone

The more isolated you are, the easier you make it for the stalker. Therefore, involve family, friends and work colleagues. In this way, you feel protected and deter the stalker. The more people know about him, the harder he can act.

3. change your cell phone number and email address

It may seem unfair, but it can still be worth it if you get a secret number and change your email address. In this way, you will create a little peace of mind.

4. document the assaults

Keep a stalking diary in which you carefully note down the incidents with time and date. There may even be witnesses you can name. Also, keep any written evidence such as emails or text messages.

5. data protection

This tip is especially valuable when it comes to preventive cyber-stalking: Be careful with your personal data in social networks! Do not dispose of envelopes and account statements in the household trash. In addition, you should not accept any merchandise that you have not ordered yourself.

6. report

File a report with the police. The stalking diary already mentioned is useful for this. The police will summon the alleged perpetrator and conduct a so-called endangerment interview. This already has such a deterrent effect on many stalkers that they refrain from their harassment afterwards.

Help with stalking

Support for stalking victims: support services and resources

There are now numerous support services for stalking victims and their relatives. One nationwide victim support organization that provides voluntary support to around 700 stalking victims each year is the Verein White ring e. V. This also has the No Stalk App developed to help victims document assaults.

Criminal police counseling centers and the Federal Association of Women's Counseling Centers are also competent points of contact. The help hotline "Violence against women" (Tel. 08000 116 016) can refer you to victim support organizations and counseling centers in your area. Relatives are also welcome at most facilities.

How to deal with stalking: strategies for victims and their environment

First of all, get rid of the guilt. It is not your fault that you have been the victim of stalking. You did not encourage your stalker or in any other way drive him to his actions. This is an adult human being who is in the process of committing a crime. Understanding this is important in order to keep your cool in the stressful situation.

Then inform those around you. The more people know about your stalker, the better. The motto is: Publicity protects! As a relative, you can best help the stalking victim by offering your sympathetic ear, even if there seem to be no other issues between you. If you are close, it is also conceivable that you accompany the victim to court hearings or to the police.

When dealing with the stalker, you as the victim should never respond to the contact attempts! Even a supposedly clarifying conversation will not change anything. Stay consistent and ignore all calls, messages and gifts. File a complaint with the police. If the latter does not have any effect, a restraining order under the Violence Protection Act can help.


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