January 2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of the first National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM).
Each year in January, we take time to focus on a crime that affects 6.6 million victims each year.1 The 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, the U.S. Territories 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,2 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. 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 reports that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices, or hidden cameras, to track the victim’s daily activities.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.”
1 Michele C. Black et al., “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report,” (Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).
2 Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).
3 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.
5 Baum, Stalking Victimization in the United States.
What You Can Do
- - Learn more about stalking in Kansas, Read Stalking Fact Sheet, or test yourself and take the quiz
- - Attend an event in your community
- - Attend professional training
- - Talk with the people in your life about this issue -
- - Get connected and involved with your local service provider and with KCSDV
- Donate items or money
- Become a volunteer service provider
- Become a board or committee members
- - Hold local officials accountable for addressing this issue in your community
- What are the policies at our local schools and public agencies for addressing this?
- What is the track record of the local criminal justice professionals (law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, community corrections, etc.) in addressing this issue?
- What are other communities doing to prevent this and is it working? If so, are we doing that here? Why or why not?