Everything about stalking – are you being stalked?
You want the stalking to stop, but what are the options? A police brochure has been made for this purpose, which we would like to share here in plain text because not everyone has a PDF reading option.
What is stalking?
Stalking is deliberately harassing someone. The victim feels limited in freedom and safety due to the stalking. For victims, the behavior of a stalker often has a major impact. It can make someone insecure, angry or scared.
How criminal is stalking?
In the Netherlands, stalking is a crime. Perpetrators of stalking are therefore punishable by law. The police and the judiciary can prosecute a perpetrator of stalking if a victim so wishes.
Stalking is not a one-time incident, but a pattern of multiple incidents. How often it happens, the severity of the stalking and the impact on the victim determine whether a crime has been committed. The punishment for stalking ranges from community service to imprisonment. An offender can also receive a restraining order, area or location ban.
The law defines stalking as 'harassment'.
If you are a victim of stalking, you can report this. You ask the police to start an investigation into the stalking and to prosecute the stalker under criminal law. Sometimes stalking goes hand in hand with other crimes such as threats, vandalism or assault. You can also report this. If there is a case of abuse but you prefer not to report it (yet), the police and the judiciary can decide to prosecute the perpetrator.
A stop call can help
For victims, reporting often feels like a big step. You may want to try to solve it differently first. For example with a stop call. In a stop conversation, the police talk to the perpetrator. We tell the perpetrator that the behavior is punishable and that it must stop now. Many stalkers stop after such a conversation.
Am I being stalked?
Do you doubt whether you are dealing with a stalker? Discuss this with someone you trust. Don't wait for it to get worse. You can also contact the police. Call 0900 8844 or go to the police station in your area. Together with you, we will see what we can do to stop the stalking.
Why does someone stalk?
Stalking is caused by intense emotions in the stalker. Think of a desire or a frustration. The stalker focuses those emotions on you and hopes to change his own situation.
Who is the stalker?
A stalker can be an ex-partner, family member or friend. It may also be someone you know less well, such as a colleague or local resident or someone you don't know at all.
Is an ex-partner the stalker?
Ex-partners can sometimes be so desperate or angry that they start stalking because of the end of a relationship. One day you may receive messages from the stalker declaring love to you and another day you will be called names. The stalker tries to contact you in all sorts of ways. In serious cases, the stalker enters your home unsolicited. Or there is threat, intimidation and sometimes even violence. Ex-partner stalking is often more aggressive than other forms of stalking. Are you dealing with this? Then go to the police as soon as possible. We can help to stop the stalking and prosecute the perpetrator.
Please note, always call 112 immediately in threatening situations.
Do you not know the stalker well or not at all?
Someone who doesn't know you well or doesn't know you at all may be stalking you because they want a certain relationship with you. That can be a friendly or sexual relationship. These stalkers are often intrusive and have psychological problems. Because of these psychological problems, the stalker can sometimes have ideas about the relationship with you that are not correct. For example, the stalker thinks there is a relationship or that there should be a relationship. It may also be that the stalker does not want a relationship, but that this person feels that you have wronged him or her. The stalker then wants recognition and attention for this.
It often starts innocently enough
Stalking does not always have a clear starting point. Sending a bunch of angry or coercive messages doesn't immediately make someone a stalker. If the nuisance lasts longer than two weeks or is immediately violent and intimidating, you can speak of stalking.
What do stalkers do?
What stalkers do is very different. Usually the stalker tries to contact you. But other behavior can also be part of a pattern of stalking.
For example, the stalker can tell nasty things about you to your family, friends or colleagues. Or the stalker tries to get in touch with you through acquaintances. You are chased on the street, receive unwanted gifts or keep encountering the stalker because he is following you. A stalker can often call you and send you mail and e-mails. Social media stalking also occurs. Sometimes a stalker also hacks the victim's accounts.
A stalker can visit you unsolicited, be always present around your home or work, use violence or threaten to do so, damage your property, order goods on your account or show other undesirable behavior. Every stalker is different. So also the behavior of every stalker.
At the first nuisance, indicate that the behavior is undesirable. And that you want it to stop. After that, do not respond to messages from the stalker. The need for contact can become a kind of addiction for the stalker. The stalker then wants more and more contact. Every reaction, even if it is negative, makes the stalker want more contact. No response therefore works best. The sooner you act, the faster and better the stalking can be stopped.
Check out the tips for an overview of what to do if you are being stalked.
Tip 1: Be clear
Stalkers often hear what they want to hear. If you tell your ex-partner that you are also sorry that the relationship is over, then that is a reason for your ex-partner to keep in touch. It is therefore important that you are clear so that you do not give the stalker a reason to keep seeking contact.
Tip 2: Say stop
State briefly and clearly once that you want the stalker's behavior to stop. For example, like this: 'I don't want to have any more contact with you. Stop looking for contact. I won't respond again.'
It is important that you really stop responding afterwards. This can stop incipient stalking.
Tip 3: Talk about it with others
You don't have to be alone in this. Support and practical help from others can help you. Talk about the stalking with someone you trust. You can always discuss your situation with the police by calling 0900 8844. Is the stalker your ex-partner? Then you can also contact Safe at Home for help and advice on 0800 2000.
Tip 4: Document the stalking
Keep a log of contact with the stalker. Write down the date, time, location, duration and manner of the stalking. For each contact attempt, note whether there were any witnesses. Think of neighbours, friends or colleagues. Keep all messages, take pictures if you can and record phone calls. This collects evidence that can help with a criminal investigation into the stalker.
Consequences of stalking
Stalking can have serious consequences for you. You may experience anxiety, suspicion, startle reactions, concentration problems, sleep problems, poor appetite, fatigue or muscle and headache. The longer the stalking lasts, the greater the impact on your life.
Consequences for children
Is the stalker the father or mother of your children? The stalking can also have consequences for children. It can negatively affect their development and sense of security. Change in behavior at school can be a signal that children are bothered by the situation.
Even if the stalker is the father or mother of your children, it is important not to have direct contact. Necessary contact about the children can go through other people. If you wish, you can discuss the options with Safe at Home. You can contact them 24 hours a day on 0800 2000.
Veilig Thuis can give you advice about your safety and that of your children. Veilig Thuis can also think along with you about practical matters and possibly arrange help for you and your children.
What if the stalking doesn't stop?
It is understandable that you are concerned, because you do not know how long the stalking will last and how serious it will become. It is impossible to predict what a stalker will do. However, there are signs that give cause for concern. These signals may indicate that the stalking is getting worse and is leading to violence. The more signals, the more worrisome the situation.
Do you doubt your safety? Contact the police on 0900 8844 or Safe at Home on 0800 2000. In case of immediate danger, call 112.
Signs of serious stalking
Your own feeling is the most important signal
Your own feeling says a lot about possible danger from the stalking. If you have had a relationship with the stalker, you can often assess what this person is capable of. So take your feeling seriously.
Share your concerns
Do several signals apply in your situation? Or do you feel unsafe or threatened? Always discuss this with the police on 0900 8844 or Safe at Home on 0800 2000. Together we will look at how we can increase your safety and how we can stop the stalker.
Practical tips for stalking
Is there danger? Call 112. For example, if the stalker threatens you directly, destroys your belongings or tries to enter your home.
Being stalked can make you feel like you are losing control of your life. The following practical tips can help you regain that control.
An important first step: consider what a stalker might know about you. All that knowledge can be used by the stalker. Take your time with this and get help from someone you trust and who is familiar with the situation.
Together you can make a list of times and locations where the stalker may be. Consider for each moment and location what the stalker could do. Also think about what you can do to reduce the chance of this happening.
Make a safety plan
Are you afraid that the stalker will use violence? Then make a safety plan together with the police or Safe at Home. This plan states, for example, what you can prepare and how you can prepare if you suddenly have to flee. If you are harassed on a regular basis, the stalker will make a huge invasion of your private life
- The stalker knows I have my own flower shop.
- What can the stalker do with this knowledge?
Wait for me there or look for me.
Posting bad reviews about my business.
- What can I do to reduce the chances of this occurring?
Always be present with someone else.
Inform my colleague and agree what to do if we see the stalker.
Ask other shopkeepers in the area to be alert.
Install good cameras and secure important items.
Take out an appropriate insurance policy.
Make a plan on how to inform clients about the stalking if necessary
Practical measures on locations
Check out the following actions you can take in different locations. Not all tips will apply to all victims of stalking. Are you unsure about this? Discuss this with someone you trust or with the police on 0900 8844 or Safe at Home on 0800 2000.
Measures around your home
Financial assistance from the municipality
If you want to increase your safety but cannot afford the costs, the municipality may be able to help you financially. Please contact your municipality to see what is possible.
Measures en route
Measures at work
Measures on devices and online
Measures for people in your area
We can help you in various ways.
If the stalker threatens you directly, destroys your belongings or tries to enter your home, call 112. We will come to you as soon as possible.
If we see that the stalker is doing something criminal at that moment, we can take the stalker to the police station. It also happens that there is not (yet) enough evidence of criminal behavior when we arrive. We can then not immediately arrest the stalker. Sometimes victims feel that the police are not helping you, because we are only allowed to send the stalker away at that moment. Discuss this with the police and ask for an explanation. It is good to know that we always record the report and everything we observe in the police systems. In the event of multiple incidents, we can act against the stalker at a different time. It also helps with criminal investigations. After the report, we will examine with you which safety measures are possible.
No immediate threat
The first time you report to the police that you are being stalked, we have an intake interview with you. During this conversation you tell your story. We also ask questions to find out as much as possible about the stalking. The more detailed your story, the better we can assess the situation. Together we will see how we can help you.
Step 1 – See what the problem is and what is needed
In a meeting we discuss your wishes and what we can do for you. For example, we are talking about taking safety measures, keeping evidence, a stop conversation, reporting the crime and possible assistance.
What can you do?
Step 2 – Talk to the stalker
The police can have a stop conversation with the stalker. This is possible when the stalking is not yet very serious. The police will discuss this possibility with you. We only do a stop call if you want it. You are not in this conversation yourself.
During a stop call, the police tell the stalker that the behavior is undesirable and that it must stop. We also say that the behavior of the stalker is punishable and warn of the criminal consequences, for example a prison sentence.
Usually a stalker has problems of his own that causes him to stalk. Someone often needs help to change the behavior. During a stop interview, we therefore also discuss what assistance the stalker can receive.
Half of the stalkers stop after the stop conversation
About half of the stalkers stop stalking after a stop conversation. If the stalker continues, the stalker can be prosecuted. For this, a report must first be filed against the stalker.
Step 3 – Record a report for tracking down and prosecuting the stalker
If the stalker continues to stalk after a stop call, you can report it. Sometimes we advise a victim of stalking to report it immediately. We do this if we think that a stop conversation is no longer useful or if the stalker has threatened you or used violence. If you file a report, you are asking the police to start an investigation into the stalker. During this investigation, for example, we speak with witnesses. We will keep you informed if you wish.
You can get a permanent contact person at the police.
During the report, we look at the pattern of the stalking. Therefore, take your log with you during the interview, in which you have recorded everything that happened.
Evidence of the stalking is also important. Think of messages, photos or recorded telephone conversations.
After the police investigation
A prosecutor receives the results of the police investigation. The public prosecutor can decide that the stalker must be arrested, possibly remain detained or appear before a judge. The public prosecutor can also impose a restraining order or an area ban.
If there is a court case, a judge will decide what punishment the stalker will receive. In addition to a contact or area ban, this can also be community service or imprisonment.
If you have suffered damage, you can request compensation through the court. You can get help with this from Victim Support Netherlands or from a lawyer.
When the stalker gets out again
Did the stalker get a prison sentence and will the stalker be released again? Then we ensure that we remain alert to possible new signals of stalking.
If the stalker does not keep to the agreements
Call the police on 112 if the stalker does not comply with the legal measures that have been imposed.
In the event of a restraining order, the stalker is not allowed to contact you.
With an area ban, the stalker is not allowed to enter a certain area. That can vary from a street to an entire province.
With a location ban, the stalker is not allowed to come to a specific location where you often visit. For example, your home, a supermarket or your work.
You can also opt for civil law proceedings. The aim is then not to punish the perpetrator, but to stop the stalking and to ensure that any damage is compensated. You need a lawyer for civil proceedings.
You pay the costs for a lawyer yourself. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to obtain reimbursement of these costs. And you can later reclaim the cost or part of it from the stalker.
All information about the civil procedure, the costs and a possible compensation can be found on legal counter.nl.
Speaking up for victims
If a lawsuit comes, you as a victim have the right to speak. This means that you can share your story in writing or orally in court. You can then let us know what the effect of the stalking is on your life. You decide whether you want to use this. Victims of stalking often opt for a written statement. Someone from Victim Support Netherlands or a lawyer can assist you with this and possibly read your letter during the court case.
Practical and emotional support
Stalking can have a major impact on your life. You may want help dealing with the stalking or learning how to stand up for yourself. There are several organizations where you can get help. In the case of stalking by an ex-partner, for example, you can contact Safe at Home. They provide information and advice and can also arrange childcare for you and your children if you are not safe at home.
In addition, there are networks of specialized lawyers who can help you. And through Victim Support Netherlands you can get in touch with other victims of stalking.
At the end of this brochure you will find contact details of organizations that can help you.
If you know someone who is being stalked
Many victims of stalking think they are on their own and feel powerless. If you know someone who is being stalked, you can help them. For example, by seeking help from the police or Safe Home together. You can also give this brochure to the victim.
If a stalker does not receive appropriate help, there is a chance that they will start stalking again in the future. A stalker can therefore get help through Safe Home or the Netherlands Probation Service. This can be done voluntarily, but a judge can also oblige the stalker to do so.
Where can you go?
For advice, reporting, declaration and in case of acute danger.
Call 0900 8844 or go to a police station near you. In case of immediate danger, call 112. Or look at police.nl.
Veilig Thuis is there for advice and support in the event of domestic violence. Ex partner stalking is also part of that. You can approach Safe Home for yourself or if you are concerned about someone else. You can call Safe Home 24 hours a day on 0800 2000. You can also chat with an employee on Veiligthuis.nl.
For help and shelter
For legal information, advice and specialized lawyers
The legal counter
Here you can get information about legal procedures and the possibilities for legal assistance and legal aid. Check out legal counters.nl for a counter near you or call 0900 8020.
The National Lawyers Network Violence and Sex Victims is a network of specialized lawyers for, among other things, stalking cases. Visit langzs.nl or send an email to email@example.com.
Council for Legal Aid
On rvr.org you will find information about civil proceedings, legal assistance, specialized lawyers, information folders and accessibility.
Association for Woman and Law
On Vrouwenrecht.nl you will find lawyers who specialize in women and law in the Netherlands.
For practical and emotional support
Victim Support Netherlands
Victim Support Netherlands mainly offers practical support to victims of stalking. Think of referral to the right help or contact with other victims of stalking.
Call 0900 0101 or look at victimhelp.nl.
For emotional support
MIND Correlation provides emotional support. Call 0900 1450 or look at mind-correlation.nl.
Do you want to tell your story? Then call The Listening Line on 088 076 70 or look at delistenline.nl.
On this website of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport you will find information about domestic violence. You will also find addresses where you can go for help.
Zeeman confronts Stalkers
You can register for the program on this website Sailor Confronts Stalkers.