January was the fifteenth National Stalking Awareness Month, an annual call to action to recognize and respond to the serious crime of stalking.
Read on to learn more about stalking and the correlation between active shooters that fall into domestic violence and stalkers.
WHAT IS STALKING?
Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear. Many stalking victims experience being followed, monitored, approached and/or threatened, including through various forms of technology. Stalking is a horrible and psychologically harmful crime in its own right as well as a predictor of potentially lethal violence. Victims and survivors often suffer anxiety, social dysfunction and severe depression as a result of their victimization.
- Each year, 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked in the United States.
- In 85 percent of cases where an intimate partner attempted to murder their partner, stalking preceded the attack.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states. It can be difficult to recognize and prosecute in a system designed to respond to active threat incidents rather than the series of acts that constitutes stalking.
A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but a stalker can be anyone, regardless of identity. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, three in one stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. More than one in four stalking victims reported some form of technology being used, such as instant messaging or emails.
SIGNS OF A STALKER
Knowing what qualifies as stalking under state and federal law can help you determine if you are being targeted. Below are warning sign of stalking to be aware of for yourself or loved ones:
- Calling and texting repeatedly
- Following and showing up wherever the victim is
- Sending unwanted gifts, letters, or emails
- Damaging property like a home or car
- Hacking into social media accounts or email
- Monitoring phone calls or computer use
- Using technology like global positioning systems (GPS) to track the victim
- Driving by or hanging out at where the victim lives or work
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BEING STALKED?
- Trust your instincts. Victims of stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker’s behaviors, but stalking poses a real threat. Your safety is important.
- Call the police if you feel you are in danger. Explain why even some actions that seem harmless, like leaving you a gift, are causing you to fear the gift giver.
- Stalkers often use technology to contact their victims. Save all emails, text messages, photos or posts on social media sites as evidence of the stalking behavior.
- Keep a record or log of any contact with the stalker. Also, be sure to document any police reports.
STALKING AS A HEALTH ISSUE
Stalking can become quite devastating and can have long lasting physical, emotional and psychological effects on the victim. When it comes to the victim’s mental health, stalking can create:
- Social dysfunction
STALKING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Stalking poses concerns for the safety of the victim. This type of crime tends to escalate in frequency and severity. Stalking is also a risk factor for future violence.
One study found that 76 percent of women who were murdered and 85 percent of women who survived a murder attempt experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder or murder attempt.
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), a project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six women experience stalking during their lifetime, compared with one in nineteen men. Stalking is most prevalent in intimate partner relationships. The NISVS found that 61.5 percent of stalkers were current or former intimate partners, while 26 percent of stalkers were acquaintances and 15 percent were strangers.
Stalking is treated as a serious crime under both federal and state laws. While the particular elements of this crime vary from state to state, every state has enacted laws criminalizing stalking. Many have made it a felony-level offense for the most severe cases of abuse. At least 37 states have enacted misdemeanor-level stalking crimes in order to cover the full range of this dangerous and threatening conduct.
CORRELATION BETWEEN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SHOOTINGS
It may seem like there is no rhyme or reason to mass shootings, there is at least one commonality among many of the perpetrators: a history of violence against the women in their lives. Statistics can illustrate how closely linked domestic violence and mass shootings really are:
- The majority of mass shooters in the U.S. killed their intimate partners or family members. According to the Everytown for Gun Safety, mass shooters killed a partner or family member in 54 percent of shootings, which are defined as incidents in which four or more people are killed by guns.
- About 4.5 million American women report that they have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun. At the University of Pennsylvania, Susan Sorenson, director of the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse in Relationships, determined that although the number of women killed by their partners is in the hundreds, the number threatened is in the millions.
- Nearly half of American women who are murdered are killed by their intimate partners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 45 percent of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner in 2007. Partners were responsible for five percent of the homicides of men that year. The risk of death increases when an abuser has access to a firearm.
- Homicide is the fifth leading cause of death for women between 18 and 44. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2015, homicide caused the death of 3,519 women in the U.S.
NATIONAL STALKING AWARENESS MONTH | ACTIVE THREAT SOLUTIONS
Stalking is a serious matter, and we understand that your safety at home and at work is a number one priority. At Active Threat Solutions by Defense in Depth, we have experienced professionals that can make sure you are trained.
Active Threat Solutions by Defense in Depth was developed to equip individuals with the knowledge and confidence they need that will inspire them to implement crisis solutions in the workplace making them feel safer and more empowered.
To learn more about National Stalking Awareness Month or how to keep yourself safe, click below to contact us or call us today at 844-244-2255.