Stalking is a pattern of unwanted, unsolicited behavior, occurring on two or more occasions, toward a specific individual that may cause that person to feel fearful, scared, distressed, and harassed. The person being stalked may also feel threatened and in danger. This contact or behavior is not consensual, and requests for the behavior or contact to stop are often disregarded. It is possible to be stalked by a stranger, but more often it is by someone known to the person.
If you believe that you are being stalked or know a student who is being stalked, reach out for help and support.
Here are some examples of unwanted/unsolicited behavior and contact¹:
- Leaving or giving unwanted gifts
- Showing up at your place of work, school, home, or other places you go
- Knowing your schedule
- Repeated contact through e-mails, texts, social media, phone calls, or in person (may be frightening or inappropriate content)
- Damaging property
- Stealing things that belong to you
- Sending you pictures
- Making direct or indirect threats to you, friends, family, or pets
- Finding out information about you through public records, online searches, etc.
If You Are Being Stalked You Might²:
- Feel fear of what the stalker will do
- Feel vulnerable, helpless, unsafe, and not know who to trust
- Feel anxious, irritable, impatient, or on edge
- Feel depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, fearful, or angry
- Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping, or remembering things
- Have eating problems, such as appetite loss, forgetting to eat, or overeating
- Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories
- Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated
- Stalking, Aggravated Stalking, and Especially Aggravated Stalking (T.C.A. § 39-17-315).
- As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
- Following or appearing within the sight of that person;
- Approaching or confronting that person in a public place or on private property;
- Appearing at that person’s workplace or residence;
- Entering onto, or remaining on, property owned, leased, or occupied by that person;
- Contacting that person by telephone;
- Sending mail or electronic communications to that person; or
- Placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by that person; and
- “Victim” means an individual who is the target of a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment.
- “Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of two (2) or more separate noncontinuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose;
- “Emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling;
- “Harassment” means conduct directed toward a victim that includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, and that actually causes the victim to suffer emotional distress. Harassment does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose;
- “Stalking” means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested;
- “Unconsented contact” means any contact with another person that is initiated or continued without that person’s consent, or in disregard of that person’s expressed desire that the contact be avoided or discontinued. Unconsented contact includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:
- A person commits an offense who intentionally engages in stalking
- Stalking is a Class A misdemeanor
- Stalking is a Class E felony if the defendant, at the time of the offense, was required to register, or was registered with, the Tennessee bureau of investigation as a sexual offender, violent sexual offender or violent juvenile sexual offender, as defined in § 40-39-202.
- A person commits aggravated stalking who commits the offense of stalking as prohibited by subsection (b), and:
- In the course and furtherance of stalking, displays a deadly weapon;
- The victim of the offense was less than eighteen (18) years of age at any time during the person’s course of conduct, and the person is five (5) or more years older than the victim;
- Has previously been convicted of stalking within seven (7) years of the instant offense;
- Makes a credible threat to the victim, the victim’s child, sibling, spouse, parent or dependents with the intent to place any such person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or
- At the time of the offense, was prohibited from making contact with the victim under a restraining order or injunction for protection, an order of protection, or any other court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the victim or the victim’s property, and the person knowingly violates the injunction, order or court-imposed prohibition.
- Aggravated stalking is a Class E felony
- A person commits especially aggravated stalking who:
- Commits the offense of stalking or aggravated stalking, and has previously been convicted of stalking or aggravated stalking involving the same victim of the instant offense; or
- Commits the offense of aggravated stalking, and intentionally or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to the victim of the offense or to the victim’s child, sibling, spouse, parent or dependent.
- Especially aggravated stalking is a Class C felony
For more information about Tennessee Laws through Tennessee Code Annotated, visit http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/tncode/
¹ Information adapted from US Department of Justice, National Center for Victims of Crime, Stalking Resource Center, and womenshealth.gov.
² Information adapted from the Stalking Resource Center
This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-WA-AX-0024 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.