National Stalking Awareness Month is a time to focus on a crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year1. This year’s theme—“Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.”—challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it.
Stalking is a crime in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact. People aged eighteen to twenty-four experience the highest rate of stalking. In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims2, and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships3. Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or school or have to move as a result of their victimization4.
Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear. 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 activities5. 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, however, can support victims and combat the crime. If more people learn to recognize stalking, we have a better chance to protect victims and prevent tragedies.
To learn more about stalking, contact IUP’s Haven Project at 724-357-4799 or visit the National Stalking Resource Center website.
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