January is Stalking Awareness Month: Help is Here

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Safe Harbor: A 24 hour helpline for information, support, and resources: 804-287-7877

January has been proclaimed as Stalking Awareness Month. This year marks the 10th anniversary of commemorating this month. It is estimated that up to 6.6 million people are stalked in one year Stalking is a serious issue that disrupts lives in many ways, and often ends in tragic results.

Stalking is commonly defined as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear”.  Stalking is often related to intimate partner violence which often ends in serious or tragic results. Many women who are murdered by current or former intimate partners reported stalking behaviors at some point.

Stalking behaviors include:

  • physically watching, staring or spying
  • unwanted phone calls, letters, text messages or other messaging
  • property invasion/damage
  • using another person to stalk you (proxy stalking)
  • hidden cameras, GPS devices, spyware

It’s Real

Stalking is real. Fortunately, I have never personally been subject to stalking, but I know women who have dealt with stalking and it is a real threat.  Once a woman is stalked, she no longer feels safe anywhere or any time. She feels robbed of her freedom and is anxious and afraid. Her whole life is turned upside down and inside out.

When my friend was stalked, she was a single woman living alone. She worried about every person she met on the street, added new locks to her doors and windows, and had to change her phone number. When she spoke with police, they said that she must have evidence of the person stalking her. There was no option for a restraining order given the circumstances – yet she lived in fear for months.  Protective orders changed a few years back and are more readily available for stalking victims today – so finding out what’s available for your protection is critical.

Fortunately, my friend’s situation turned out positively when the stalker finally gave up and moved away.

But is he out there stalking someone else today. Is he quietly harassing some frightened woman who doesn’t know where to turn for help? And will he return?

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Know the Law and Get Help

It’s important to know your rights and the stalking laws in your state. It is a crime under the laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Being educated on the laws is just one important step in protecting yourself or someone you love.

The Stalking Resource Center offers lots of resources and information for professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking.

 

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Safe Harbor – A Local Resource

Safe Harbor right here in Richmond, VA is also a valuable resource for those being stalked. Don’t avoid seeking help the minute you believe you are being stalked. Help is here! Safe Harbor provides:

  • A 24 hour helpline where you can receive information, support, and resources: 804-287-7877.
  • Professionals to discuss stalking and intimate partner violence. Call the hotline.