In his opening remarks at a hearing before the U.S. Senate
Judiciary Committee in September, 1992, Senator Joseph R. Biden stated that
the estimated number of people who are being stalked right now exceeds twice
the number of people who will die in a given year from all accidents combined
including motor vehicle accidents.
Unfortunately, stalking and harassment most often arises
from interpersonal relationships -- individuals trying to leave a volatile
domestic situation, ending a dating or intimate relationship, rejection of
an intensely persistent admirer or a random acquaintance who becomes obsessively
If, as experts predict, one in twenty American women will
become a victim of stalking/harassment at some time in their lives, your awareness
of this issue and the laws in support of victims can be invaluable.
(The following statutes were taken from the
South Carolina Code of Laws.)
Harassment: A pattern (two or more
acts within a ninety-day period) of intentional, substantial, and unreasonable
intrusion into the private life of a targeted person that causes the person
and would cause a reasonable person in his/her position to suffer mental distress.
Harassment may include, but is not limited to:
following the targeted person as he/she moves from
location to location;
visual, physical, or verbal contact that is initiated,
maintained, or repeated after a person has been provided notice that the
contact is unwanted;
surveillance of or the maintenance of a presence near
the targeted persons residence, place of work, school or another
place regularly occupied by the targeted person by the targeted person;
vandalism and property damage.
Stalking: A pattern (two or more acts within
a ninety-day period) of words or conduct that is intended to cause and does
cause a targeted person and would cause a reasonable person in the targeted
persons position to fear:
death of the person or a member of his/her family;
assault upon the person or a member of his/her family;
bodily injury to the person or a member of his/her
criminal sexual conduct on the person or a member of
kidnapping of the person or a member of his/her family;
damage to the property of the person or a member of
(Harassment or stalking does not include words
or conduct that is protected by the Constitution of this State or the United
States, and does not apply to law enforcement officers or process servers
performing their official duties.)
Penalties upon conviction:
A person who engages in harassment, upon conviction, must
be fined not more than $200 and/or imprisoned not more than thirty days.
A person convicted of harassment against a person within
7 years of a prior conviction of harassment against or stalking of that
person, or when an injunction or restraining order is in effect, upon conviction,
must be fined not more than $1000 and/or imprisoned for not more than one
A person who engages in stalking, upon conviction, must
be fined not more than $1000 and/or imprisoned for not more than one year.
If an injunction or restraing order is in effect, the individual,
upon conviction, must be fined not more than $2000 and/or imprisoned for
not more than two years.
If convicted within seven years of a prior conviction of
harassment or stalking of that person, the individual charged must be fined
not more than $5000 and/or imprisoned not more than five years.
If you or someone you know is being harassed
Document each and every incident -- date, time, witnesses
and a description of the incident. Include license plate number, etc. to
give a thorough description of the individual.
Contact the police. Ask for an official report to be filed.
Dont keep the harassing/stalking behavior a secret
-- tell people and ask for their support.
Use the buddy system -- never walk or jog alone at night
and always let someone know where you are going and the expected time you
will arrive home.
Locate support groups within your community.