The term stalking is used frequently in the media and our daily conversations with friends. The verbiage is tossed around to describe different scenarios, but what truly is stalking under Illinois civil law?
Pursuant to the Stalking No Contact Order Act (740 ILCS 21/1), “stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and he or she knows or should know that this course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person or suffer emotional distress. Stalking does not include an exercise of the right to free speech or assembly that is otherwise lawful or picketing occurring at the workplace that is otherwise lawful and arises out of a bona fide labor dispute, including any controversy concerning wages, salaries, hours, working conditions or benefits, including health and welfare, sick leave, insurance, and pension or retirement provisions, the making or maintaining of collective bargaining agreements, and the terms to be included in those agreements.
Stalking behavior includes following a person, conducting surveillance of the person, appearing at the person’s home, work or school, making unwanted phone calls, sending unwanted emails or text messages, leaving objects for the person, vandalizing the person’s property, or injuring a pet.
Stalking is a serious crime. Victims experience fear for their safety, fear for the safety of others and suffer emotional distress. Many victims alter their daily routines to avoid the persons who are stalking them. Some victims are in such fear that they relocate to another city, town or state. While estimates suggest that 70% of victims know the individuals stalking them, only 30% of victims have dated or been in intimate relationships with their stalkers. All stalking victims should be able to seek a civil remedy requiring the offenders stay away from the victims and third parties.