National stalking month

Know what stalking is
Kelly Heaton
Thursday, January 16, 2020

Stalking: Know it. Name it. Stop it.

Consider for a moment the flowers delivered to your workplace this week. It’s likely they were a thoughtful gesture graciously received. Now imagine the fear and humiliation someone might feel if the bouquet was not welcome, but the tactic of a stalker.

Stalking is not a romantic gesture, nor a desperate ploy for companionship, it is a crime.

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at an individual that causes them fear. According to federal crime statistics, it impacts more than one in six women and about one in 17 men in the United States.

Many stalking victims are followed, approached, sent unwanted gifts, monitored and threatened – and technology is making stalking even easier. Stalking survivors often suffer anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from their social network. They frequently miss work and are often forced to move to get away from their stalkers.

On its own, stalking is terrifying and psychologically devastating, but it frequently co-occurs with domestic and sexual violence, and it can be a reliable predictor of potentially lethal violence.

In 85 percent of cases where an intimate partner murdered or attempted to murder their partner, stalking preceeded the attack.

Despite stalking’s prevalence and dangerous implications, many people underestimate its danger and urgency. Stalking can be difficult to recognize and prosecute in a system designed to respond to singular incidents rather than the series of seemingly harmless acts.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month and Domestic and Sexual Violence Services of Carbon and Stillwater counties (DSVS) urges you to expand your understanding of stalking and take action when you see it happening. If you or someone you know is the victim of stalking, notify law enforcement, track the incidents as they occur and report them, and establish a safety plan should the stalking escalate into further violence. DSVS has offices in both Red Lodge and Columbus. If you would like additional support or someone to simply listen, please call 406-446-2296 to make an appointment with an advocate at one of our offices or call the DSVS helpline at 406-425-2222.