Below you will find some frequently asked questions about stalking and what to do if you think you are being stalked. In an emergency, please call 999 or 112. To learn more about the support available, head to our support page.
1. What is stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated behaviour that causes you to feel distressed or scared. Stalking can happen with or without a fear of violence. Stalking can be perpetrated by anyone.
There are a number of behaviours which may constitute stalking. Sometimes, stalking is confused with harassment - but they are significantly different. Many elements of harassment may amount to stalking if they are fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated.
If you or someone you love is in danger, call 999 or 112.
2. What are the signs of stalking?
Stalking behaviours can typically be broken up into the following categories: unwanted behaviours, threats and abuse, malicious communications and reputational damage.
Stalking behaviour tends to be F.O.U.R - fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated.
If you are experiencing one or more of the following behaviours, you may be a victim of stalking. Remember - stalking happens with and without the fear of violence. If you are concerned for your safety, we advise you to call 999 or 112.
Loitering around your home
Spying or tracking your movements (online, using technology or in person)
Making unwanted approaches to you (at home, work, in public)
Making unwanted approaches to friends, family or colleagues
Interfering with or damaging your property, breaking into your home
Threats or abuse
Threats to harm you or those close to you
Threats to harm themselves around you
Physical attacks or attempted physical attacks
Sexual violence or attempted sexual violence
Sending inappropriate letters, faxes, texts, WhatsApps, emails or social media messages
Making inappropriate or malicious telephone calls to you
Sending unwanted gifts
Distributing malicious material about you (e.g. flyers, web-sites, posters, newspaper ads)
Engaging in inappropriate or malicious social media contacts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)
Initiating false legal action against you
Making false complaints to agencies
Taking pictures/recordings of you without your consent
Sharing private images of you that are of a very personal nature (e.g. nude images, sexual images)
If you think that you are being stalked, you can take our stalking assessment - 'Am I being stalked?' which will provide you
with more information. In an emergency please call 999 or 112.
3. What type of stalkers are there?
The Stalking Risk Profile was developed developed by Paul Mullen, Michele Pathé and Rosemary Purcell divides stalkers into five types. The below is taken directly from their website, www.stalkingriskprofile.com
1. The Rejected stalker
Rejected stalking arises in the context of the breakdown of a close relationship. Victims are usually former sexual intimates; however family members, close friends, or others with a very close relationship to the stalker can also become targets of Rejected stalking. The initial motivation of a Rejected stalker is either attempting to reconcile the relationship, or to exacting revenge for a perceived rejection. In many cases Rejected stalkers present as ambivalent about the victim and sometimes appear to want the relationship back, while at other times they are clearly angry and want revenge on the victim. In some cases of protracted stalking, the behaviour is maintained because becomes a substitute for the past relationship as it allows the stalker to continue to feel close to the victim. In other cases the behaviour is maintained because it allows the stalker to salvage their damage self-esteem and feel better about themselves.
2. The Resentful stalker
Resentful stalking arises when the stalker feels as though they have been mistreated or that they are the victim of some form of injustice or humiliation. Victims are strangers or acquaintances who are seen to have mistreated the stalker. Resentful stalking can arise out of a severe mental illness when the perpetrator develops paranoid beliefs about the victim and uses stalking as a way of ‘getting back’ at the victim. The initial motivation for stalking is the desire for revenge or to ‘even the score’ and the stalking is maintained by the sense of power and control that the stalker derives from inducing fear in the victim. Often Resentful stalkers present themselves as a victim who is justified in using stalking to fight back against an oppressing person or organisation.
3. The Intimacy Seeking stalker
Intimacy Seeking stalking arises out of a context of loneliness and a lack of a close confidante. Victims are usually strangers or acquaintances who become the target of the stalker’s desire for a relationship. Frequently Intimacy Seeking stalkers’ behaviour is fuelled by a severe mental illness involving delusional beliefs about the victim, such as the belief that they are already in a relationship, even though none exists (erotomanic delusions). The initial motivation is to establish an emotional connection and an intimate relationship. The stalking is maintained by the gratification that comes from the belief that they are closely linked to another person.
4. The Incompetent Suitor
The Incompetent Suitor stalks in the context of loneliness or lust and targets strangers or acquaintances. Unlike the Intimacy Seeker, however, their initial motivation is not to establish a loving relationship, but to get a date or a short term sexual relationship. Incompetent Suitors usually stalk for brief periods, but when they do persist their behaviour is usually maintained by the fact that they are blind or indifferent to the distress of victim. Sometimes this insensitivity is associated with cognitive limitations or poor social skills consequent to autism spectrum disorders or intellectual disability.
5. The Predatory stalker
Predatory stalking arises in the context of deviant sexual practices and interests. Perpetrators are usually male and victims are usually female strangers in whom the stalker develops a sexual interest. The stalking behaviour is usually initiated as a way of obtaining sexual gratification (e.g., voyeurism targeting a single victim over time), but can also be used a way of obtaining information about the victim as a precursor to a sexual assault. In this sense the stalking is both instrumental and also gratifying for those stalkers who enjoy the sense of power and control that comes from targeting the usually unsuspecting victim.
4. What are the laws around stalking?
In July 2023, stalking became a standalone criminal offence in Ireland with the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2023.
Check back here soon for more information on the Act.
5. I think I'm being stalked - what should I do?
In an emergency, call 999 or 112. Otherwise, we recommend taking the following steps
1. Tell somebody you trust
Talk to a friend or trusted family member. Encourage them to read up about stalking - we have included a list of resources on our support page. You may need to inform the people you live with or your employer too. Again, you can direct them towards resources to help them understand.
There is currently no dedicated support service for stalking in Ireland. Sexual Violence Centre Cork are offering their services until such a service becomes available - to get in touch, visit their website www.sexualviolence.ie
2. Assess your safety
You may not feel threatened, but stalking behaviour can escalate rapidly. You should consider making a safety plan, which could include steps like varying your routine or changing your shifts at work.
The Gardaí can help you assess your safety. We recommend that you ask your local Garda station to put you in touch with your local Protective Services Unit where possible. Protective Service Units are special Garda units set up to deal with crimes such as sexual violence and domestic abuse. There are 27 of these units across the country.
For more information on safety planning, visit the following links.
3. Keep evidence
Document the stalking behaviours and keep evidence. If you go to the Gardaí, documenting the stalking can help highlight the pattern of behaviour, and show that the behaviour is deliberate and intentional.
It is helpful to keep a log or diary about the stalking. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust have put together helpful guidance on keeping evidence and logs - you can find out more here: https://www.suzylamplugh.org/FAQs/collecting-evidence
Stalking behaviour can escalate quickly and we recommend that you take all threats seriously. Report the stalking to your local Gardaí and ask for assistance from the nearest Protective Services Unit.
In an emergency, please call 999 or 112.
6. Safety online
Stalkers may exploit online platforms to stalk you. We have taken the following information from Get Safe Online to help you manage your safety online. Visit their website getsafeonline.org for more information.
Review what online information exists about you and keep it to a minimum
Regularly change your e-mail and passwords for key online accounts and keep them safe
Review all your privacy and security settings
Avoid public forums
Ensure that your computer and mobile devices have updated antispyware software installed and turned on
Ensure your wireless hub/router has security turned on.
Unless you are using a secure web page, do not send or receive private information when using public WiFi
Limit the personal and financial information you share on or offline
Educate friends, family and work colleagues into the risks
If you are affected by cyberstalking
Gather and document as much evidence as you can
Report the stalking to the police
Most social networking sites have a means of reporting such issues, for example Facebook, click here. Twitter is also introducing an in-Tweet ‘Report Abuse’ button across all apps and its website.