January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. This year’s theme is: “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It”, which challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it. Community Advocates Against Sexual Assault is working with the Stalking Resource Center to raise awareness about stalking in our community.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact. In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims, and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships, according to the American Journal of Public Health.
Stalking behavior may include, and is not limited to, unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails, following or spying on their victim, showing up at places without having a legitimate reason, waiting at places for the victim, leaving unwanted items, presents or flowers, and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim online, in a public place or by word of mouth.
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. Of stalking victims, 46% fear not knowing what will happen next. [Baum et al., (2009). “Stalking Victimization in the United States.” BJS.]
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. 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 stalking can support victims and combat the crime. No one should ever have to live in fear! CAASA Case Manager, Billie Wirthlin advises, “Inform your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers of the situation. Pass along a picture or physical description of the stalker. Friends, coworkers and family can help to screen phone calls, sort mail or inform the police in the event that the stalker shows up. Relying on trusted friends and family is important for victims of stalking and allows them to feel (and stay) safer, while reducing feelings of isolation and desperation”.
CAASA is collaborating with Paul Montenegro of the Montenegro School of TaeKwon Do to provide a free Self-Defense class to women and girls to promote safety awareness and public education about stalking during the annual observance. The class will be taught by TaeKwon Do Instructor Paul Montenegro and will be held Saturday, January 16 from 1:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m.
For more information or sign up for the free class, please contact CAASA at 623-2328, 775-623-2312, Fax: 623-3251, E-Mail Address firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.humboldtcaasa.com
For additional information on stalking please visit:
http://stalkingawarenessmonth.org and www.ovw.usdoj.gov.