Showing posts with label what is stalking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label what is stalking. Show all posts

Monday, January 28, 2013

National Stalking Awareness Month - January

January is National Stalking Awareness Month.

Many of you may not be aware that January was proclaimed National Stalking Awareness Month. This designation was made nine years ago.

According to a 2010 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men in the United States have been victims of some type of stalking, fearing that they or someone they loved could be harmed. January has been set aside as the month dedicated to educating the public about the serious and at times deadly crime of stalking. 
You may ask yourself just what IS stalking? According to Stalking in America: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice, stalking  occurs when harassing or threatening acts occur repeatedly, for example, following, showing up at your job or home uninvited, harassing phone calls or written messages, leaving objects for someone, or vandalism. It is a form of terrorism to an individual. 

While Federal laws criminalize stalking, state laws vary based on the level of victim fear and emotional distress, as well as the intent of the stalker. Some states require that the victim actually feels frightened, while other states criminalize the behavior if it is enough to frighten a reasonable person.
Stalking between intimate partners is widespread and often associated with lethal abuse. Despite the enactment of anti-stalking laws in every state, relatively few stalkers are cited or arrested by law enforcement, even fewer are prosecuted!
Stalking endangers the physical and emotional well being of millions of American men and women every year. Too often, stalking goes unreported because people still do not believe it is a dangerous crime or they feel that somehow the victim brought it on themselves. Many think it's easy to get rid of a stalker. "If you ignore them, they will leave you alone," is often what victims of stalking are told. Sometimes ignoring this danger can make the problem worse, if the stalker is seeking attention.

Cyberstalking and harassment are unfortunately becoming more prominent. They are defined as using the Internet or other forms of electronic communication, such as texting or email, to threaten others. The intent of this type of stalker is to take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet to make threats or harass others. Most victims of cyberstalking never know the identity of their stalker. 
National figures indicate that females 18-29 tend to be victims of cyberstalking, but women are not the only targets. A survey of 765 students at Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania found 45 percent of stalkers to be female and 56 percent to be male. National figures show most stalkers to be male by overwhelming margins (87 percent.) Men represented over 40 percent of stalking victims in the Penn-Rutgers study. Many stalkers use some form of social media to stalk their victims.
What Can You Do?

Remember that if you are in imminent danger, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not try to handle a stalker by yourself, whether on line or in person. Report any threatening behavior to police immediately. 

  • Don't share personal information such as your address or phone number online in emails or on social media. 
  • Be sure to understand and use the privacy measures offered by social media, such as Facebook. Don't trust people online if you don't know them in person. Remember that the Internet provides anonymity; people might not be who they say they are.
  • If you feel someone is stalking you online, report that person to the administrator for the online site. Disable your account and delete all pictures and personal information from the account.
The National Center for Victims of Crime lists ways to keep yourself safe from in person and on line stalkers on their website. 

Stalking can cause
emotional distress in

Share this article with friends and co-workers. Discuss stalking with your children. Make sure they know what to do if they are being threatened or harassed. Spread awareness by tweeting or using 31 Days of Updates to help people understand this dangerous crime. The National Center for Victims of Crime has many tools available to you to spread awareness and educate others about stalking.

Cindy Foley
Contributing Writer