Stalking is an act of persistent persecution that causes its victims psychological strain. It includes frequent phone calls to victims’ homes (also at night) or workplaces, “waylaying”, bombarding with letters, e-mails and text messages, unwanted gifts, as well as spreading disparaging rumours, psychological harassment, threats, physical violence and sexual assaults.
To improve the protection of victims of stalking, Austria has adopted a so-called anti-stalking law, which became legally effective on 1 July 2006.
Pursuant to Section 107a StGB (Criminal Code) entitled “Persistent persecution (beharrliche Verfolgung)”, it is possible to counter the psychological terror caused by various forms of persistent persecution by resorting to criminal law.
Behaviour is deemed persistent if sustained over a longer period. It is liable to punishment if it interferes with the victim’s life to an unacceptable degree and can be counted among the following behavioural patterns:
trying to be close to the victim (e.g. following by car, waylaying at home or in the workplace)
contacting by telecommunication or any other means of communication or via third parties (e.g. frequent letters, e-mails or text messages)
ordering goods or services for the victim by using the latter’s personal data (for example clothes from a mail-order company)
inducing third parties to contact the victim by using the latter’s personal data (for example placing contact ads on behalf of the victim)