January 2024- Stalking Awareness Month

January 2024 – Stalking & Tech-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence

January is Stalking Awareness Month. In honour of this, the following offers a brief overview of stalking, what it is, who is targeted, and how technology facilitates further violence.

For starters, “stalking” is a form of gender-based violence in which a pattern of behaviour directed at a specific person (the victim or survivor) causes fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others, including the resulting emotional distress. Like most forms of gender-based violence, it is rooted in power and control.

What is important to acknowledge is that, statistically speaking, in Canada, the overwhelming majority of stalking victims are women, and the majority of perpetrators are men. This aligns with what we know about other forms of gender-based violence.

Stalking includes repetitive phone calls (may be silence on the other end, or hang-ups), obsessive text messages, weird or unwanted notes left on cars, unwanted gifts, or messages on social media platforms. It includes the perpetrator following the victim around to discover intimate details about them. In Canada, stalking is a crime and is considered criminal harassment.

With the rise of technology, a new form of stalking has emerged, dubbed Cyberstalking. This involves the use of the internet, email, or other technologies to harass, follow, track or stalk another person:

“This could include the intentional behaviour to intimidate victims or make their lives unbearable. It is not the mere annoyance of unsolicited e-mail, it is methodical, deliberate, and persistent. The communications, whether from someone known or unknown, do not stop even after the recipient has asked the sender to cease all contact, and are often filled with inappropriate, and sometimes disturbing, content. Essentially, cyberstalking is an extension of the physical form of stalking.” (Canadian Women’s Foundation).

If you believe you are being stalked, contact the police immediately.

Need support? Call/text the provincial toll-free line 1-855-225-0220, available 24/7 or a local organization. If  in an emergency situation, call 911.

Further Reading: