January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and it can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or personal association.
The definition of stalking varies from one jurisdiction to another, but it is usually defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause them to feel fear.
Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time.
Over 6.6 million people are stalked in one year in the United States. One in six women and one in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization where they felt fearful or believed that someone close to them would be harmed or killed. A stalker can be someone you know or not know at all. Most have dated or been involved with the person they stalk, this can range from a man stalking a woman, a woman stalking a man, a man stalking a man or woman stalking a woman. Stalkers will use different actions to try to frighten, harass, intimidate, and control their victims.
Stalking may include:
- Following a specific person
- Driving by the victims place of residence , employment, school
- Calling, texting and emailing the victim persistently
- Threatening to harm victim, victim’s family, friends or pets.
- Leaving gifts, letters etc., at the victims residence, employment or school
There are several different things you can do if you or someone you know is a victim of stalking. First remember that what is happening is not your fault and that nothing you have done has caused that person to stalk you. Contact a local victim services agency where advocates there can work with you to develop a safety plan for home, work and school in obtaining a protective order to forbid your stalker to have any contact with you. Talk to your family and friends about the stalking and provide them with as much information as possible. Document every stalking incident, take photos if vandalism is involved and contact your local law enforcement agency to report the stalking crime. Keep all emails, texts, gifts, letters, etc. as these will be very useful when obtaining a protective order and useful evidence for law enforcement. Remember you are not alone and provide yourself with a group of people who care about you and your safety.
At the Citizen Potawatomi House of Hope, we serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking regardless of race, age, gender, sexuality or economic status. Our jurisdiction encompasses Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Cleveland counties and we can be reached at 405-275-3175. If you would like to learn more about our program, please visit www.cpnhouseofhope.org.