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