Stalking refers to intentional and repeated acts of surveillance, chasing, harassment, and threatening, which serve to instil fear in the victim. The definition of stalking ranges from obtrusion to constant psychological terror. It can involve physical or sexual assault and even lead to homicides. The victims are physically or psychologically threatened, in some cases over a long period of time. Acts of stalking typically involve:
In Germany, stalking is liable to prosecution according to paragraph 238 of the Penal Code.
Most victims of stalking are women, who are mainly stalked by men. Stalkers are often ex-partners, but also relatives, neighbours, or co-workers and, in rare cases, also strangers.
Stalkers seek power and control over their victims. When women who have been abused by their partners break up, they are often stalked by their ex-partners who refuse to accept the separation. In such cases, there is a particularly high potential for a violent escalation.