Know It. Name It. Stop It.
January is Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year.
According to the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCADV), this year’s theme – “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.”
According to a proclamation signed by President Barack Obama, each year, millions of Americans face the fear, isolation, and danger of being victims of stalking. At some point in their lives, one in 6 women and one in 19 men will be stalked, and many of these crimes will go unreported and unprosecuted.
Stalking is a pattern of unwanted contact that causes victims to fear for their safety or the safety of family members, according to LCADV. It can include implied or explicit threats; harassment; or nonconsensual communication through phone calls, text messages, or emails. The perpetrator is usually someone the victim knows. Stalking behaviors may appear harmless to outside observers, but victims often endure intense physical and emotional distress that affects every aspect of their lives. Many feel forced to move, or change jobs. Tragically, stalking tends to escalate over time, and it is sometimes followed by sexual assault or homicide.
The LCADV offers the following stalking safety tips in the event that you or a loved one is the victim of a stalker:
• If possible, have a phone nearby at all times, preferably one to which the stalker has never had access. Memorize emergency numbers, and make sure that 911 and helpful family or friends are on speed dial.
• Treat all threats, direct and indirect, as legitimate and inform law enforcement immediately.
• Vary routines, including changing routes to work, school, the grocery store, and other places regularly frequented. Limit time spent alone and try to shop at different stores and visit different bank branches.
• When out of the house or work environment, try not to travel alone and try to stay in public areas.
• Get a new, unlisted phone number. Leave the old number active and connected to an answering machine or voicemail. Have a friend, advocate, or law enforcement screen the calls, and save any messages from the stalker. These messages, particularly those that are explicitly abusive or threatening, can be critical evidence for law enforcement to build a stalking case against the offender.
• Do not interact with the person stalking or harassing you. Responding to stalker’s actions may reinforce their behavior.
• Consider obtaining a protective order against the stalker. Some states offer stalking protective orders and other victims may be eligible for protective orders under their state’s domestic violence statutes.
• Trust your instincts. If you’re somewhere that doesn’t feel safe, either find ways to make it safer, or leave.
LCADV challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it. Also, you may contact Jeff Davis Communities Against Domestic Abuse (CADA) at (337) 616-8418 or on their crisis line at (866) 883-2232 in the event that you or someone you love is being stalked. For additional information on National Stalking Awareness Month, please visit http://stalkingawarenessmonth.org.
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