Jan­u­ary 7, 2019

Jan­u­ary is Nation­al Stalk­ing Aware­ness Month

Union Coun­ty State’s Attor­ney Tyler R. Edmonds is alert­ing the pub­lic that Jan­u­ary is Nation­al Stalk­ing Aware­ness Month – a time to focus on crime that affect­ed 7.5 mil­lion vic­tims a year. This year’s theme, “Stalk­ing: Know It. Name It. Stop It.” chal­lenges the nation to fight this dan­ger­ous crime by edu­cat­ing the pub­lic on the often sub­tle signs and the extent to which it is occur­ring around us.

The Nation­al Cen­ter for Vic­tims of Crime start­ed Stalk­ing Aware­ness Month in 2004. Stalk­ing is defined as a course of con­duct direct­ed at a per­son that would cause a rea­son­able per­son to feel fear. In one of five cas­es, stalk­ers use weapons to harm or threat­en vic­tims, and stalk­ing is one of the sig­nif­i­cant risk fac­tors for homi­cide in abu­sive rela­tion­ships. Vic­tims suf­fer anx­i­ety, social dys­func­tion, and severe depres­sion at much high­er rates than the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.

Unlike oth­er crimes, stalk­ing is not a sin­gle, eas­i­ly iden­ti­fi­able crime but a series of acts. Stalk­ing may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, van­dal­ism, bur­glary, or ani­mal abuse, as well as unwant­ed cards, calls, gifts, or vis­its. One in four vic­tims report that the stalk­er uses tech­nol­o­gy, such as com­put­ers, glob­al posi­tion­ing sys­tem devices, or hid­den cam­eras, to track the victim’s dai­ly activities.

Stalk­ing is dif­fi­cult to rec­og­nize, inves­ti­gate, and pros­e­cute. Stalk­ers fit no stan­dard psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­file, and many stalk­ers fol­low their vic­tims from one juris­dic­tion to anoth­er, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for author­i­ties to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute their crimes. Com­mu­ni­ties that under­stand and rec­og­nize stalk­ing, how­ev­er, can sup­port vic­tims and com­bat the crime.

The Union Coun­ty State’s Attorney’s Office encour­ages com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to report inci­dents of stalk­ing and take action to pro­mote aware­ness and pub­lic edu­ca­tion about stalk­ing dur­ing the annu­al obser­vance of Nation­al Stalk­ing Aware­ness Month.

A few point­ers to keep in mind if you believe you or some­one else may be the vic­tim of stalking:

  • Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, take it seri­ous­ly. Don’t let oth­ers pres­sure you to down­play the stalker’s behavior.

 

  • Call the police. Report stalk­ing to police. When it isn’t an iso­lat­ed inci­dent, give police the full sto­ry explain­ing the pat­tern of behav­ior. If you feel you are in imme­di­ate dan­ger, call 911.

 

  • Keep a log. Keeps a writ­ten log or record of the stalk­ing behav­iors includ­ing the date, time and location.

 

  • Save emails, texts and social media posts. Save any writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the stalk­er to pro­vide to police.

 

  • Call for help. Help is avail­able 24 hours a day from many resources including:

 

Nation­al Domes­tic Vio­lence Hot­line              1–800-799-SAFE

The Women’s Cen­ter, Inc.                             1–800-334‑2094

Stalk­ing Resource Cen­ter                               victimsofcrime.org/src