January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Do you know what "stalking" is? Has it ever happened to you or someone you know? The National Center for Victims of Crime informs the public about stalking through its Stalking Resource Center online and defines it as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear."
Here are some things about stalking that you should know:
- One in six women and one in 19 men have experienced stalking in their lifetime. In this situation, the victims were very afraid or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. It's more than someone having a crush on you, which may be annoying but not threatening.
- Most stalking victims are stalked by someone they know: 66 percent of female victims and 41 percent of male victims are stalked by their current or former intimate partner. Many of them were stalked before age 25. Some victims are stalked between the ages of 11 and 17.
- Approximately 11 percent of stalking victims have been stalked for five years or more.
- Seventy-six percent of intimate partner femicides have been stalked by their intimate partner; 67 percent were physically abused and 89 percent were stalked in the year prior to their murder.
- Fifty-four percent of femicide victims reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their stalkers.
- Seventy-eight percent of stalkers use more than one means of approach, often using weapons to harm or threaten victims.
- Victims are fearful because they don't know what to expect or when. They miss work time because of the effects of stalking.
"The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if this stalking involves being followed or having one's property destroyed," reports the National Center for Victims of Crime. Some victims relocate to other places to escape from their stalkers.
President Obama issued a proclamation to encourage awareness and support victims saying, "Stalkers seek to intimidate their victims through repeated unwanted contact, including harassing phone calls, text messages or emails. Cyber stalking is increasingly prevalent"
If you are being stalked you may be afraid of what your stalker will do. You might feel vulnerable, unsafe, and question who you can trust. You may be anxious, impatient, irritable or on edge, depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, tearful or angry. Stressing over this can affect how you think, whether you can concentrate or sleep, how you eat or don't eat.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Trust your instincts. If you think you are in danger you probably are. Take threats seriously. Contact a victim services agency, domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you to develop a safety plan.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities and is associated with Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Coalition.
For more information about this topic or about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC is associated with Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Coalition.
The Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Coalition seeks to engage agencies, organizations and the communities of Columbiana, Mahoning, and Trumbull counties in northeast Ohio in the promotion of family violence prevention. With the understanding that Violence is Preventable, the coalition envisions safe families and safe communities.
For more information about the coalition, contact them in care of Help Hotline Crisis Center Zinc., P.O. Box 46, Youngstown, Ohio 44501; phone, 330-744-4244.