Stalking and Harassment

Pennsylvania Law
What is stalking?
What do I do if I am being stalked?
Building a Community of Respect


What is stalking?

Stalking is a willful course of conduct involving the repeated or continuous harassment of an individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel intimidated, threatened, or causes substantial emotional distress.

Who is stalked?

According to the United States Department of Justice, 1 in 12 women and 1 in 50 men will be stalked in their lifetime. The vast majority of staking cases involve people who know each other. In fact, the United States Department of Justice reports that 59.5% of female and 30.6% of male victims are stalked by an intimate partner.

Some examples of stalking include...

  • Contacting by telephone, email, or regular mail
  • Following or appearing in the sight of the person
  • Approaching or confronting the person in a public or private place
  • Appearing at workplace or residence
  • Entering or trespassing on an individual's property
  • Sending gifts, flowers, cards, etc.

For a behavior to be considered stalking, you should be able to answer yes to these questions:

Is the behavior repeated?

The behavior must be repeated to be considered stalking. However, if a person sends you an email, calls you, and follows you home from class, that could be considered stalking. Even though the specific incident wasn't repeated, the person's communication with you was, therefore the behavior would be considered repeated.

Would the behavior make a reasonable person feel intimdated, threatened, or distressed?

Receiving two phone calls from the same person in one night usually wouldn't make a reasonable person feel uncomfortable. Receiving 15 unwanted phone calls from the same person in one night would cause a reasonable person to be concerned.

Is the behavior having a negative effect on you?

Many stalkers will say that they are just trying to show the people that they stalk how much they love them, and that they mean no harm. No matter what the intention of the stalker is, if his/her behavior is making the person feel uncomfortable or intimidated, it is considered stalking.

Is the behavior unavoidable?

If someone is waiting for you on your way to class, is there another route you can take? If so, you could possibly avoid the person by taking an alternate route. If the person calls your home, or waits by the only entrance to your apartment building, it is harder to avoid the behavior and will more likely be considered stalking.

Was the person accused of stalking made aware that their behavior was unwanted?
The most common defense to stalking is that the stalker didn't know that what he/she was doing was unwanted.

What do I do if I am being stalked?

Stalking is a serious crime that should not be taken lightly. Studies have shown that 30% of stalking cases result in some form of physical violence, and that the closer the relationship between the stalker and the victim, the more potential there is for violence. If you or a friend is being stalked, follow these suggestions:

Tell the person that you are uncomfortable with his/her behavior and that you will notify the police if they continue. Don't make idle threats. If you say you're going to notify the police, do it. When confronting the person, use the XYZ formula:

    X = The behavior that is making you feel uncomfortable
    Y = How it is affecting you
    Z = What you would like to have happen

Example: When you call me (X) it makes me feel very uncomfortable, (Y) so do not contact me again(Z).

If the person does not stop, get help. Notify the police. Also, if the person stalking you is a Lehigh student, you have the option of filing a complaint with the Dean of Students Office. For contact information click here

If you are receiving phone calls, don't argue with the person. Simply tell the person not to call again or just hang up. They're looking for a reaction out of you, and if you don't give them the reaction they're looking for, they may stop.

Record everything : Write down everything that happens, when it happens, and what you did about it. It is important to record every detail including what was said, witnesses, etc. Documentation will help greatly if you want to press charges in the future.

For a list of resources that are available to help if you or a friend is being stalked, please click here


Lehigh University strives to provide an educational, working, co-curricular, social, or living environment for all students, staff, faculty, trustees, contract workers, and guests that is free from harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Such harassment is unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated.

For information on harassment, please consult the Lehigh University Harassment Policy.

If you would like to make a complaint about harassment, please click here for a list of people you can contact.






Gender Violence Prevention and Response