Thursday, January 13, 2011

Physical Stalking



Physical stalking describes unwanted, obsessive attention directed at an individual without the use of technology. Due to the availability and ease of use of technology, it is rare that a victim exclusively experiences physical stalking, however, it is a major component of the crime and needs to be addressed individually. There are various means of keeping ‘tabs’ on a person without the use of technology. The most common form of stalking is following the victim or showing up places unwanted.

Stalkers usually know their victim’s daily routines. They know where they live, work, shop, and also who they meet. Being a victim of this behavior not only presents risks to their own safety, but also endangers others around them. What makes it more unsafe for victims is if the stalker is a former intimate partner. If this is the case, not only is he/she aware of the victim’s routine, it’s likely they also know many of the same people the victim does. In such situations, there is no place for the victim to hide. The lives of stalking victims are seriously at risk since weapons are used to harm or threaten the victim in 1 of 5 cases. The National Center for Victims of Crime states that ‘73% of intimate partner stalkers verbally threatened victims with physical violence, and almost 64% of victims experienced one or more violent incidents by the stalker.’ It doesn’t take long for a stalking crime to escalate and become violent. Stalking victim’s basic human rights are always at risk.

Seemingly harmless gifts like candy and flowers can also be a form of stalking. In cases of intimate partner stalking it is difficult to conceal mailing addresses, however, in other cases this can be dealt with by getting a private mail box at the post office and not filing a change of address. More information can be found at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse website. Another method stalkers use to intimidate victims is through unwanted, harassing phone calls, which often times are made through blocked numbers. . This can traumatize both the victim and their family. Screening calls even when you have Caller ID is a way around this. Getting an unlisted number is also a good way to be protected from these stalking practices.

Harassment at a victim’s workplace is a very severe form of stalking, as this can jeopardize the safety of co-workers and cost the victim their job. The National Center for Victims of Crime states that ‘1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result of their victimization and more than half lose 5 days of work or more.’ For many hourly waged victims, lost work days means not getting paid. This can have dire consequences for the victim’s well being.

It is reported that 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method. This leaves the victim uncertain of their safety and in constant fear of their next contact from their stalker. Unfortunately, stalkers can find a wide range of ways to know the whereabouts of the victim and they also have various means of harassing the victim. Many victims feel that stalking will simply go away and don’t report the crime. If you or anyone you know is being stalked please report the crime to save a life. 

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