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Stalking awareness month gains attention

January 16, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

Have you ever been stalked? We aren't talking about harmless puppy love. This discussion is about lethal stalking that causes a victim to be so afraid for their personal safety that they carry something to protect themselves and sometimes seek out professional help in the form of counseling. It's about the kind of stalking that is related to domestic violence and can result in the victim's death. This month is the 8th annual National Stalking Awareness Month and Family Recovery Center and the Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Coalition invite you to gain knowledge and awareness about this issue.

Stalking can be lethal, according to the Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey.

The National Institute of Justice says 76 percent of women who were murdered by their current (at the time) or former intimate partner, were stalked within the last 12 months before their deaths. Both females and males may be stalked, but more often it is women, many still in their relationships.

Domestic violence-related stalking is the most common type of stalking, says the National Institute of Justice. The women interviewed in this survey said of their stalkers:

-Wanted to control them.

-Was trying to force the victim to stay in the relationship.

-Wanted to scare the victim.

-Was mentally ill or abusing drugs and alcohol.

-Wanted or liked the attention they got.

-Were trying to catch their victims "doing something."

Some victims had no idea why they were being stalked, but were fearful of personal harm.

Stalking is willful, malicious and repeated following or harassment of another person. In some states the definition includes lying-in-wait, surveillance, nonconsensual communication, telephone harassment or vandalism.

Every state and territory of the United States, and the District of Columbia, have laws on the books against stalking, but the laws vary from state to state. They are rarely enforced. Few are cited, arrested or prosecuted. Most states require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim, including threats to immediate family. In other states, conduct implies threat.

"Stalking between intimate partners is widespread and often associated with lethal abuse," says the report. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Justice has pushed for more public awareness about the problem of stalking:

-Following a person

-Appearing at a person's home or work

-Making harassing phone calls

-Leaving messages or objects such as letters the victim doesn't want.

-Vandalizing a person's property

In most instances the stalker and the victim know each other. Women are more likely than men to be stalked by intimate partners while the relationship is still ongoing. Men are more likely to be stalked by a stranger. And homosexual men are more likely to be stalked than heterosexual men.

"There is a strong link between stalking and other forms of violence in intimate relationships" through physical and/or sexual assault, the report advises. Stalking ceases eventually, when the victim or the stalker move on to a new relationship or relocate. Sometimes a police warning is enough. Sometimes the stalker gets help, dies, or is convicted of a crime. And sometimes it just stops.

For more information about stalking, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or email, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC promotes the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities, and is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

 
 

 

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