January is National Stalking Awareness Month. In the course of one year in the United States, 7.5 million people are victims of stalking.
Stalking, simply stated, is the unwanted following of a person by another that would cause the other person to fear. It is usually someone the victim may know; an ex-spouse, ex-boy/girlfriend, former friend, co-worker, or even someone you just met recently a bar or even the grocery store. It can happen to both men and women.
What Does Stalking Look Like? Pay attention to situations that make you feel fearful or uneasy. Some common stalking tactics can be: the stalker showing up in places where the victim doesn't want them to be (their work or home); unwanted phone calls, texts or e-mails; watching or following the victim from a distance; or spying on the victim using a listening device, camera or GPS tracker.
- In 1 out of 5 stalking cases, weapons are used to threaten or harm the victim.
How Can Your Protect Yourself? If you are the victim, or even think you're the victim of a stalker, immediately call the police.
- Insist your police department send out an officer so you can file a formal complaint/report, in the officers present; this first course of action is paramount. A police report has to be filed to continue further police investigation.
- If the stalker is someone you know or an acquaintance, you should move forward with police investigators to prosecute the perpetrator. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states.
- Perpetrators who go un-prosecuted generally continue to stalk and escalate their methods increasing the risk of harm or death to the victim.
If you think you are being followed by your stalker while driving:
- Drive to the nearest police precinct, even if the precinct is closed. There are typically surveillance cameras placed on and around police buildings.
- Drive to a well lit or crowded area.
- Use your cell phone/or hands free system to call the police to report that you are being followed.
For additional information about stalking click here.