Topeka, KS - January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year.1 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 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 victims2, and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships.3 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.4
"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," says Audra Fullerton, Communications Coordinator for KCSDV. "Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits,” continues Fullerton. "In Kansas, requests for Protection from Stalking Orders continue to rise with 5,202 Protection from Stalking Orders filed in 2011, up from 5,089 in 2010.5"
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," said Joyce Grover, executive director of KCSDV, "we have a better chance to protect victims and prevent tragedies."
Founded in 1982, the purpose of KCSDV is the prevention and elimination of sexual and domestic violence through a statewide network of programs providing support and safety for all victims of sexual and domestic violence and stalking, with primary focus on women and their children; direct services; public awareness and education; advocacy for victims; comprehensive prevention; and, social change efforts. Learn more at www.kcsdv.org.
- Baum et al., Stalking Victimization in the United States, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/svus.pdf (accessed September 29, 2009).
- Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multi-site Case Control Study, American Journal of Public Health 93 (2003): 7.
- Kansas Bureau of Investigations, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Rape in Kansas 2011