January of 2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of the first National Stalking Awareness Month. While many people have a general idea of what the word "stalking" means, most may not realize the actual complexity of the issue. It is important to know stalking is a crime, a serious one at that. Menacing by stalking is the act of a person who knowingly engages in a pattern of conduct causing one to believe that the stalker will relay physical harm or mental distress.
According to the Stalking Resource Center, 6.6 million people are stalked in one year in the United States. Stalking is also not just an adult issue. About one in five female victims and one in 14 male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17. The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. It is important for victims to plan for their safety. Some safety tips include: Never contact your stalker; document all stalking incidents; protect personal information; and use a different schedule.
Stalkers use many different patterns of conduct to harass and contact their victims. Such patterns of conduct include: Following the victim; appearing at the victim's home or place of work; harassing the victim through the Internet; vandalizing the victim's property; and sending the victim unwanted gifts. Two-thirds of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, and use more than one method. Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases.
Stalking is very serious and frightening, and against the law. Contact local law enforcement to report all stalking incidents. If you are a victim of stalking, actions can be taken to ensure your protection and safety. For more information about safety planning or services, contact EVE Inc. The 24-hour toll free hotline number is 1-800-974-3111.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ashton Biehl is a prevention specialist with EVE Inc.