More than 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men will be stalked in their lifetimes.
Phone calls, text messages, following you, showing up uninvited, spreading rumors, hacking accounts, threatening you, harming animals, property damage, and filming you without consent.
- In 2018, roughly 21,600 stalking incidents were reported in Japan. This constituted a decrease of more than 1,500 cases compared to the previous year. 87.9% of victims in 2018 were women, whereas 82.1% of the perpetrators were men according to Statista’s 2021 statistics.
- The most common relationship between the victim and the perpetrator were boyfriend-girlfriend contexts, including former partners.
- The number of revenge pornography reports has remained above 1,000 cases since 2015, which is when Japanese police began maintaining records. Young women are the majority of victims.
ARE YOU BEING STALKED?
Stalking is a series of actions that make you feel afraid, distressed, or in danger. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time.
- Always looking over your shoulder?
- Confused about how someone always seems to know where you are?
- Unsure when that person will show up again?
- Nervous about checking your email or phone because it might be him/her/them again?
- Scared of what that person might do next?
You may be a victim of stalking.
“Going to work, attending your kids activities, going out for the evening… these things seem routine. For me, they’re terrifying because I never know what he will do or when he will show up.” —Stalking Survivor
WHO ARE STALKERS?
Most stalkers target people they know. Many stalkers commit this crime against people who they’ve dated/been romantically involved with. Stalkers may also be acquaintances, family members, and/or strangers.
WHAT DO STALKERS DO?
Most stalkers use multiple tactics to scare their victims. These behaviors may include (but are not limited to):
- Unwanted contact through repeated calls (including hang-ups), texts, e-mails or messages.
- Following you.
- Sending unwanted gifts or letters.
- Tracking you using technology (like GPS, apps, or hidden cameras)
- Showing up or waiting for you at your home, work, or school.
- Damaging your property.
- Spreading rumors about you – in person or online.
- Posting, sharing, or threatening to post intimate photographs of you.
- Harassing your coworkers, family, or friends.
- Gathering information about you by using the internet or going through your trash.
- Hacking your accounts, changing your passwords, or impersonating you online.
- Threatening to hurt you or those close to you – family, friends, pets.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE SAFE?
It can be helpful to think of strategies to help keep yourself and loved ones safe. You may want to:
- Call 110 if you’re in imminent danger or have been threatened.
- Trust your instincts. If you think that you’re in danger, you probably are.
- Connect with a local victim service provider who can help you explore options and make a detailed safety plan.
Stalking is not your fault and you cannot control the stalker’s behavior.
- Document everything that happens – keep a record or log.
- Tell people you trust about the situation. See if your school, workplace, or building security can help with your safety plans.
- Consider getting a court order to keep the stalker away from you. Contact your local domestic violence/sexual assault agency or family court for more information.
Impact of Stalking
Stalking can have serious implications on the victim’s mental health. Victims of stalking are more likely to develop depression, sleeping problems, and lower levels of mental and emotional well-being than those who are not victims of stalking.
Many victims daily lives are also negatively affected by being stalked. Good Therapy found that one in five people change some element of their daily routine, 1 in 6 people change their phone number, 1 in 7 people move out of fear after being stalked, and 1 in 8 employed victims are impacted at their jobs or lose time at work.
Supporting Loved Ones Who Are Experiencing Stalking
Most victims of stalking talk to a friend, family member, or someone else they know and trust about the situation before pursuing any sort of professional or legal help. If a stalking victim talks to you, your response makes a huge difference in if they feel validated and/or seek help.
These tips can help you respond appropriately:
Believe and validate victims.
- Don’t question or minimize what they tell you.
- For example, don’t say “well maybe they just miss you” or “they probably didn’t realize it was bothering you.”
- Instead, say “that sounds scary” or “I can see why that would be upsetting.”
Focus on the offender’s actions, not the victim’s responses.
- Even well-intentioned friends can accidentally blame victims.
- Don’t ask questions such as “why did you respond to that text message?”
- Focus on the stalker’s actions, for instance, “It is not right that they kept texting you.”
- Nothing the victim did justifies the stalker’s behavior. — Remind victims that this is not their fault.
Support the victim and encourage them to seek help and document the stalking.
- Thank them for trusting you enough to have the conversation.
- Help the victim think through options – like learning more about stalking, reaching out to local service providers, or calling police. — Victims may or may not want to take action. Respect their choices.
Respect the victim’s privacy.
- Do not share any information about the victim with the stalker.
- Ask the victim who else they have told and respect their wishes about who to share this information with. Refer them to resources to make an individual safety plan and learn more about stalking.
- Stalking cases can last a long time, and your loved one’s reactions, wants, needs, and feelings might change over time.
- Continue to check in and be a source of support. Ask questions like, “How can I help you feel safer?”
- Ask the victim how they feel the safest being contacted and use that medium to contact them. Some stalkers monitor victims’ social media accounts, phones, and/or other forms of digital communication.
STALKING SAFETY STRATEGIES
Stalkers can be unpredictable and dangerous. Whether through in-person or through the use of technology, stalkers use a variety of strategies to invade the lives of their victims. Most stalkers use multiple tactics and can escalate their behavior(s) at any time. You have no control over the stalker’s behavior and are not responsible for what they do. However, it can be useful to think of steps you might take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. This process is called safety planning.
The guidance below is intended for general informational purposes only and is not designed to replace a personalized safety plan created with the assistance of a professional. The suggestions below are also not exhaustive. You are the expert on your own life and you know best what options might be possible or feasible.
Safety Planning: Basic Considerations
- Trust your instincts. Many victims of stalking feel pressured by friends or families to simply ignore the stalker’s behavior or “just tell them off.” Stalkers are dangerous and your fear is justified.
- Your safety plan should evolve, change, and adapt as the stalking situation changes.
- As much as possible, don’t only plan around what has already happened – also think about what might happen next (for example, “if X happens, I will do Y”)
- Consider or try to anticipate how the stalker may react to any changes you may make, so you can further plan for your safety. Stalkers often escalate their behavior when the victim reacts (for example, if you block them on social media, they might start showing up at your home).
- Victims must balance their need to live normal lives with their concerns over safety. Only you can decide what tradeoffs are realistic and appropriate for you.
General Safety Strategies – Consider:
- Working with a local domestic violence shelter or victim services program to develop a safety plan.
- Notifying the police, especially if you feel you are in any immediate danger. You can explain to the police why some actions that might seem harmless (like the stalker driving by your house or leaving you a gift) are causing you fear.
- Ceasing any further communication with the stalker. Many stalkers perceive any contact, even negative contact, to be a reinforcement
- Keeping a log of every stalking incident including the date, time, what happened, and the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Documentation is key to understanding the scope of the situation, safety planning, and/or holding the offender accountable.
- Varying your daily routine periodically – routes to and from work/school, the grocery store, or other places you regularly go.
- Telling your family, friends, and neighbors that you are being stalked and instruct them on what they should do if the stalker contacts them.
- Seeking a protective order
Safety Planning: Stopping Communication with the Stalker
Consider cutting off any and all communication with the stalker. Many stalkers misinterpret any contact (even negative contact) as encouragement. Some victims feel that they should ensure the stalker knows that the contact is unwanted. If that is true for your situation, you may consider telling the stalker once – and only once – that you do not want any contact. After that, it is important to consider cutting all ties with the stalker, including not answering messages or calls.
Some examples of how to express your desire for no contact include:
- “I am not interested in having a relationship with you. Do not contact me ever again.”
- “Do not call, stop by, text, or contact me in any way whatsoever.”
- “I do not want you to contact me in any way. If you continue to do so – or if you are on my property, or follow me – I will call the police.”
- “I am ending this relationship. I am not going to change my mind. Do not contact me again. I do not want to have any communication with you, in any form. If you try to contact me, I will call the police/take legal action.”
While disengagement is advisable, it is not always possible or realistic to cease all communication. Some victims feel safer by communicating with their stalkers to gain information on the stalker’s mood and plans. Some victims must maintain contact with their stalker due to shared custody of their children. It is important to understand how continued contact can impact an order of protection or a criminal case, so please discuss this with the professional who is assisting you with your safety planning.
|Safety Planning for Workplace and School|
|Stalkers may:||Safety Planning Tips:||Documentation Strategies:|
|• Follow you to, from or around the location
• Contact colleagues about you
• Show up
• Contact you by phone, text or e-mail while you are at work/ school
|• Give a picture of the stalker to security and friends at work and school.
• Consider changing routes to and from work/school
• Adjust hours (if possible)
• Have a colleague or security guard walk you to your car/ transportation
• Make sure your school/work knows not to provide your contact information
• If you have a protective order against the stalker, keep a copy of your protective order with you AND provide a copy to security and/or other officials at your work/school
|• Save any voicemails, text messages and e-mails
• Work with building security to acquire any records/logs of the stalker being present on campus/at work
|Safety Planning for Home|
|Stalkers may:||Safety Planning Tips:||Documentation Strategies:|
|• Follow you to, from or around your home
• Invade your home
• Damage your property
• Hack into wireless networks or home devices
• Disconnect power/cable/ internet service
• Send gifts or mail
• Install cameras to monitor you
|• Inform neighbors and/ or apartment managers about the situation. Provide a photo/description of the stalker as well as a photo of the stalker’s vehicle.
• Pack a bag with important items in case you need to leave quickly.
• Identify escape routes out of your house. Teach them to your children.
• Change locks and upgrade home security system, if possible
|• Consider installing your own camera (depending on your state law) to capture evidence of the stalker’s behaviors.
• Photograph evidence of property damage
|Safety Planning Around Technology|
|Stalkers may:||Safety Planning Tips:||Documentation Strategies:|
|• Constantly contact their victim: phone calls, text messages, online messages
• Track/monitor through GPS, SpyWare and/or social media
• Impersonate victims online (for example, creating fake profiles)
• Hack into accounts
• Share private or personal images with others
• Film or photograph the victim without their consent
|• Update passwords to accounts frequently
• Change answers to your security questions so that the stalker is not able to reset your password or gain access to the account
• Adjust default settings on phone, apps and websites so that your location is not automatically shared
• Do an internet search on your name to make sure none of your personal information is posted by others. If you find information posted about you, notify the site’s webmaster immediately and request that the information be removed.
• Don’t give out your online identification information If the stalker has had access to your phone or computer, they may be monitoring what you do via Spyware, key logging software or other means. In this case, a stalker can see any changes that you make.
You may want to:
• Use another, safer device (for example, a friend’s phone, the computer at a library)
• Acquire a new device (if feasible)
|• Take screenshots of all text or internet communications with the stalker. Consider apps that can assist you in taking screenshots of long text conversations.
• Get a second camera to capture messages and/or photos that disappear or might notify the sender when a screenshot is taken
• Get phone records from your phone company to demonstrate frequent calls
• Keep track of the stalker’s behaviors by writing down every incident in this Documentation Log
STALKING LAWS IN JAPAN
Japan has adopted the Anti-stalking Act which covers, “Making silent calls, or calling, transmitting using a fax machine or sending text messages through any text messaging service persistently despite his/her rejections” …. “against a person, his/her spouse, lineal blood relatives or relatives living together, or any person who has a close relationship in social life with him/her for the purpose of satisfying one’s affection, including romantic feelings, toward any person or fulfilling a grudge when the said affection is unrequited.” Other provisions of the Penal Code on intimidation (article 222(19)), compulsion (223(1)), defamation (230(1) or insults (231) may also be applied according to the Council of Europe Portal.
In Japan, stalking is listed as a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment with work and fines. It can be concluded that almost all victims receive additional guidance, however, this has been criticized as insufficient. Statistical studies with a wider scope should be introduced, while the law should be revised regularly and expanded to include clinical therapy for perpetrators (Japan’s Policy Against the Crime of Stalking).
“Hoittoite!” Back off!
“Chikan da!” groper/pervert!
“Keisatsu o yonde!” Call the police!
“Yamete!” Stop it!