January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Like with abuse, it’s crucial to discuss stalking and how to protect our community’s most vulnerable residents.
What is stalking?
The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center (SPARC) defines stalking as “a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Stalking is a pattern of behavior that requires 2 or more behaviors.
What can stalking look like?
- Following a person
- Repeated unwanted contact
- Spreading rumors
- Verbal threats
- 1 in 4 stalking victims reported experiencing some form of cyberstalking (e.g., via e-mail or instant messaging)
- Lots of behaviors associated with emotional abusive can also be seen as stalking
- Keep in mind that the definition of stalking can vary from state to state. Click here for a detailed list of behaviors considered to be stalking under Michigan law.
Stalking could include obvious acts like following a victim in a car or showing up unannounced at a place of work, but it can also include subtle acts to make the victim uneasy (e.g., leaving a coffee cup in the victim’s car or breaking into the victim’s home and leaving on all the lights).
How common is stalking?
- Between 6 million and 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States.
- 1 in 6 women will experience stalking in her lifetime (vs. 1 in 17 men)
- Most stalking victims are stalked by someone they know (most likely a past or current romantic partner)
- People in the 18-24 age range are most likely to be victims of stalking (45.7%).
- However, stalking does still happen to nearly 10% of older adults age 65 and older (9.3%).
What should you do if you suspect you or someone you know is a victim of stalking?
- Trust your gut. If something feels off, report it.
- Call 911 if you or a loved one is in immediate danger.
- In Washtenaw County you can contact Safehouse Center at (734) 995-5444
- Make sure to DOCUMENT EVERYTHING
- Make sure to tell trusted friends or family members about the situation.
- Not sure what to do or need more help? Contact these national resources:
- Victim Connect- victimconnect.org, 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline- RAINN.org, 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline- thehotline.org, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Remember: stalking is a crime in all 50 states!