Issue #12– January 23, 2009
January Is National Stalking Awareness Month
by: Tony Yazback, Safety Investigator
During January 2009, communities across the country including RIT will observe National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects 1.4 million victims a year. This year’s theme, “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.” challenges the nation to combat this dangerous crime by learning more about it.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia. One in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime, for an average duration of almost two years, and most victims are ordinary Americans . Victims may experience psychological trauma, financial hardship, and even death . Eighty-one percent of victims stalked by an intimate partner were also physically assaulted by that partner , and seventy-six percent of female homicide victims were stalked prior to their death .
Yet many victims underestimate the seriousness and impact of the crime. At first, they may view stalking as “creepy” but not dangerous. They may think that ignoring or confronting stalkers will stop them. But stalkers almost never stop and confronting a stalker may escalate the violence.
Even when victims see the danger and report the crime, stalking may be hard for authorities to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear. Stalking may take many forms—such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse—as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits. Stalkers may use a range of devices—such as computers, Global Position System devices, or hidden cameras to track their victims’ daily activities. Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many have been known to follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making apprehension by the authorities even more difficult.
By learning more about stalking, communities can support victims and combat this crime. For more information, contact RIT Public Safety Investigator, Tony Yazback at 585-475-6192 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Tjaden and Thoennes, “Stalking in America,” (Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, 1998).
2 Mullen, Pathe, and Purcell, Stalkers and Their Victims, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
3 Tjaden, “Stalking in America.”
4 MacFarlane et al., “Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide,” Homicide Studies 3, no. 4 (1998): 300-16.
• If you are in immediate danger, call 585-475-3333 or 911
• Trust your Instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
• Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when the victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
• Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
• Develop a safety plan; including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you.
• Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date and place. Keep e-mails, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalkers damages and any injuries the stalker causes.
• Tell family, friends, roommates and coworkers about the stalking and seek their support.
• Contact CARES, the Campus Advocacy, Response and Support Program which is a comprehensive, 24-hour a day/7 days a week, crisis response program for victims of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. CARES is a program of the RIT Women’s Center. Call or Text 24 Hours a Day to Speak With a CARES Team Member. Call: 585-295-3533 v/text message; AIM: RITCARES
• Contact the RIT Public Safety Department. Every state has stalking laws. The Public Safety Department operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call: 585-475-2853; AIM: RITPublicSafety for more information.
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