January is the National Stalking Awareness Month. In honor of this month and to honor the brave victims of this crime we will write a series of blog posts to bring light to the prevalence of this crime. Stalking is a crime that takes on a wide variety of forms, which makes it very difficult to describe it in a few words, as many stalkers get creative and do unimaginable things to keep track of their victims. This post should be treated as an intro to stalking and a snapshot of different forms it takes on.
Stalking is repetitive harassment. There are two types of stalking; physical stalking and cyberstalking. A few characteristics of physical stalking are making harassing phone calls, following the victim, threatening physical harm, and engaging in the vandalizing of property. The US Department of Justice reports that 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked every year. The Bureau of Justice also finds that ‘46% of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week, and 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more.’ If actions are not taken to end stalking, it can have severe consequences for victims and their families.
Cyberstalking is using social networking and other technology to harass the victim. This includes consistently texting, closely following the victim on social networking websites, and sending unwanted instant messages and emails. These are general characteristics of stalking, however most victims experience other severe forms of harassment like being tracked by global positioning systems (GPS). The National Center for Victims of Crime states that in 2009, 1 in 4 victims reported being stalked through the use of some form of technology. It was also found that 10% of the victims reported being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and 8% reported being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices. With the advancement of technology we have seen an increase in the usage of such equipment for the purpose of harassment of victims.
Our stalking series for the month of January will explore different topics. Your questions and comments are welcomed and encouraged. Please let us know of any additional information you would like included in the series throughout the month.