If you are the target of repeated contact and attention that you don’t want, you may be a target of stalking.
Stalking is a crime in Victoria. If you think it is happening to you, you can get help.
Even if you are not sure that the behaviour that is concerning you is stalking:
- the Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 can provide advice and support and answer your questions
- you can use this website to learn more about the justice system in Victoria and what to do next.
If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is currently occurring, please call police on Triple Zero (000). You can also go to your local police station (External link) to report a crime.
The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 can provide information, advice and support.
Taking care of your safety and documenting stalking behaviour can be an important part of dealing with it.
What is stalking?
Stalking is any repeated behaviour by a person that makes you:
- worried about your safety
- causes you physical harm or
- causes you emotional harm.
Examples of stalking behaviour
The stalker may try to communicate with you by:
- telephone or via online methods
- sending or leaving letters or notes
- doing graffiti
- sending or leaving unwanted gifts or other items.
Other common stalking behaviours include:
- approaching you
- following you
- loitering outside your home or workplace
- watching you
- damaging your property
- ordering goods or services for you
- spreading gossip about you
- contacting your family or friends
- making threats to harm your loved ones
- using abusive or offensive words or acts
- starting false legal actions against you.
Sometimes, stalkers get other people involved to increase the level of stalking.
Technology like the internet or mobile phones can be used in an attempt to harass, intimidate or control you.
This may include:
- harassing you or making threats on social media sites
- posting (or threatening to post) embarrassing, fake or intimate videos, photos or comments about you
- gathering information
- impersonating you
- interfering with your computer
- tracking what you do online.
Stalking behaviours can occur as part of family violence.
Depending on what has happened as part of the stalking behaviour, you may also find information on the following crimes useful:
People are usually stalked by someone they already know, such as:
- casual acquaintances
- work colleagues or clients
- estranged friends or family members.
However, some people can be targeted by a complete stranger.
Stalkers tend to focus on the main victim, but other people around you (for example, family members, friends or co-workers) may also be threatened or harassed as part of the stalking behaviour.
Charges related to stalking
Other than stalking, an accused person may be charged with a range of different offences, depending on behaviours or incidents that happen.
They may include:
- theft if possessions are stolen
- burglary or aggravated burglary if the person breaks into your home without permission
- property damage or graffiti-related offences
- offences related to illegal online activities.
Free support across Victoria
The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 is available every day from 8am to 11pm to provide advice and support to anyone who has experienced stalking in Victoria, or is concerned that someone may be targeting them with this kind of behaviour.
When you contact the helpline, a Victims Support Officer can discuss your situation with you and advise on assistance and support services you can access.
The helpline may also be able to organise a support worker from the Victims Assistance Program who can:
- organise counselling, transport and medical services
- help you communicate with police
- assist with managing disruptions to work and study by letting people know what has happened
- assist with applying for financial assistance
- provide options for managing your home and personal security, if they have been affected by the crime.
Understanding the traumatic effects of stalking
Dealing with unwanted attention and behaviour can be very stressful and feeling threatened can be very frightening.
Everyone's response is different, but it can be helpful to understand the common feelings and physical reactions people have and what to expect.
On this website, you can learn more about:
- common emotional and physical reactions to stressful events like crimes
- suggestions to help you with recovery
- how to best support a family member or friend.
Whether it is just after the crime or you are dealing with ongoing effects on your health and wellbeing, counselling is available. The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 can connect you to services that can help.
Help to understand the justice process
The Victims of Crime Helpline can answer your questions about:
- the justice process and what to expect
- giving evidence as a witness and support that is available for you if you need to go to court
- preparing a Victim Impact Statement to tell the court how the crime affected you.
You can learn more about stalking and justice process below.
If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is currently occurring, please call police on Triple Zero (000). If you cannot access a phone, you can also go to a police station (External link).
You can contact your local police station to report non-urgent situations. You can learn more about reporting a crime to police.
There are good reasons to report crimes to the police, even if the accused person is a family member or loved one. But sometimes people do not wish to report. If that is the case for you, or you are not sure, you can still talk to the Victims of Crime Helpline and get advice and support.
What will happen if stalking is reported?
Even if you are not sure, if you think you may be the target of stalking behaviour, you can report it to the police. They will take your concerns seriously and can discuss with you how to protect your safety and collect evidence.
If you know who is stalking you, the police can issue them with a warning. In many cases, this is enough to make the harassment stop.
Free and confidential home security checks can be arranged through most police stations.
Evidence that may be needed
As a victim or witness, you may be asked to give a detailed statement about what happened.
Because stalking is a pattern of behaviours, it is important to document the behaviour. If you find this difficult or distressing, you may wish to consider asking a trusted person to help you with this.
Keep or document anything you receive from the stalker
Stalkers may leave evidence like voicemail, SMS messages, emails, letters, cards or unwanted gifts.
These items are important for the police investigation and if your case goes to court. You should keep and date all items or messages from the stalker. If items are left for you, particularly perishable items like flowers or food, record where you found them in a photograph.
Record online activity
If abusive content or intimate images are posted online, you can take a screenshot to record it as evidence. It is important where possible to also record:
- the date you took the screenshot
- webpage addresses (URLS) where the content has been displayed
- the social media services on which information has been shared
- any relevant usernames of people who post or share the content.
Document any evidence of property damage
You should take photos of any property damage, such as broken windows, signs someone has attempted to enter your property or graffiti.
Keep a log book
It is a good idea to keep a log book for keeping track of:
- any contact with the stalker
- any incidents where goods or services have been sent to you.
You should write down:
- what the stalker did
- where it happened
- the date
- the time
- the names of any witnesses.
If someone is charged
If an accused person is found by the police, they may be charged and the justice process will start.
This website explains the justice process in Victoria. You can learn about:
- police investigations
- how charges are laid
- what happens when a case goes to court
- what you need to do if you have to go to court
- what happens if an accused person is found guilty.
Tell the people you trust
Let the people you trust know that you are being stalked.
People who do not know that you are being stalked might accidentally give information to the stalker, or even become targets themselves.
The people you trust are important in supporting you and helping to document the stalker’s behaviour. Add their observations to your logbook. These people may be witnesses if your case goes to court.
Avoid contact with the stalker
Many stalkers think that any relationship is better than no relationship at all. You should avoid any contact with the stalker.
Contacting the stalker will only reward them.
Protect your private information
Be careful about who has your personal contact details. Shred your old mail instead of just throwing it out. You should do this for anything that has private information on it, like bank statements or phone bills.
Dealing with image-based abuse and other online issues
You can report these kinds of issues to the Australian Government e-Safety Commissioner (External link). Their website has a wide range of information about how best to deal with:
- online abuse and trolling (External link)
- image-based abuse (External link)
- offensive and illegal content (External link)
- online bullying of young people under 18 years of age (External link).
If images or other content has been posted online to threaten or control you, or you are concerned that the person may be a danger to your safety, it is important to seek support and advice before trying to have anything removed.
You can contact:
- the police (External link)
- The Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817.
Personal safety intervention orders
You can apply for a personal safety intervention order if you feel you are being stalked.
A personal safety intervention order is a court order made by a magistrate. It directs the stalker to stay away from you and not to attempt to contact you in any way.
If the stalker does not follow these rules, they can be charged with a criminal offence.
Personal safety intervention orders are less likely to be effective against some stalkers, such as people:
- with a history of violence
- with a strong sense of entitlement or ‘control’ over you, particularly ex-partner
- who have stalked you for a long period of time.
See more information about getting a personal safety intervention order.
An intervention order is not the only option for protection against stalking. It is important to think about how you can protect yourself, especially if the stalker is an ex-partner.
Making a safety plan can help you do this.
Taking civil legal action
You may wish to consider taking civil legal action against the stalker. Civil action is separate to any criminal legal action. It can include:
- claiming compensation or damages from the person
- requiring them to stop undertaking certain behaviour or actions.
You should get legal advice (External link) from a lawyer before making any decisions about this.
Counselling and crisis support services
24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Open: 24 hours, every day
Call: 13 11 14
Website: lifeline.org.au (External link)
The national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service offering a phone and online chat service.
Open: 24 hours, every day
Call: 1800 737 732
Website: 1800respect.org.au (External link)
Mental health care plan – see your General Practitioner
If you need assistance, you can see a General Practitioner and discuss your situation. You may be eligible for a mental health care plan (External link) that will assist with the cost of counselling.
Victorian Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) Legal Help service provides free general legal information over the phone and by chat online.
Open: 8am–6pm, every day
Call: 1800 677 402
Website: legalaid.vic.gov.au (External link)
Victoria’s health and safety regulator and manager of Victoria’s workers compensation scheme (WorkCover). If the stalking happened while you were performing work duties, you may be entitled to make a claim.
Open: 7.30am–6.30pm, Monday to Friday
Call: 1800 136 089
Website: worksafe.vic.gov.au (External link)
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner
Australian Government agency committed to helping all Australians have safe, positive experiences online. You can report image-based abuse (External link) or offensive or illegal content (External link) on their website.
Website: esafety.gov.au (External link)
Australia and New Zealand’s national identity & cyber support service. You can report identify theft and relationship scams (External link) on their website.
Open: 8am–5pm, Monday to Friday
Call: 1800 595 160
Website: idcare.org (External link)
Australian Cyber Security Centre (ASCS)
The Australian Cyber Security Centre is the Australian Federal Government initiative for improving cyber security. You can use their ReportCyber online tool to report cyber crime (External link) (online crime). It can refer your report to the most relevant law enforcement or government agencies for investigation.
You can use ReportCyber to report types of crime such as:
- identify theft
- online scams – such as dating and romance scams, threats or extortion for money
- attacks or hacking of computer systems.
Website: cyber.gov.au (External link)