January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects an estimated 6.6 million people a year.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and the federal government. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has also incorporated stalking and cyberstalking into their Code of Ordinances. The definition of stalking, the elements, and penalties can be found in section 14-5.5 of the Cherokee Code.
The definition of cyberstalking, the elements, and penalties are located in the subsequent section 14-5.6. As many as 1 in 4 women and 1 and 13 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime – most often the stalker is someone the victim knows – an acquaintance, a relative, or a current or former partner. Stalking is often an indicator of other forms of violence. Eighty-one (81) percent of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabitating partner were also physically assaulted by that partner, while 31 percent were sexually assaulted. People aged 18-24 have the highest rate of stalking victimization.
Not only is stalking often an indicator of other forms of violence, it has been linked to femicide (murder of women and girls). Seventy-six (76) percent of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first, while 85 percent of women who survived murder attempts were stalked. Eighty-nine (89) percent of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted before their murder were also stalked in the last year prior to their murder, and 54 percent of femicide victims reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their stalkers.
Stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. It can occur in many forms such as assaults, constant monitoring, threats, vandalism, animal cruelty, receiving unwanted gifts, calls or visits to the victim’s school, home or office. Some victims have reported that their stalker used technology such as, computers, GPS devices, social media, or hidden cameras to track their daily activities.
Victims may experience a wide range of emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, and suffer social dysfunction. One (1) in eight (8) employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result of their victimization and more than half lose five (5) days of work or more. One (1) in seven (7) stalking victims move as a result of their victimization. Communities that understand stalking, can support victims and combat the crime. If more people learn to recognize stalking behaviors and become proactive, it may offer an early intervention for victims that could prevent an unnecessary tragedy.
If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking, have questions, need assistance, or would like to talk to someone, please call The EBCI Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Program (Walkingstick Shelter) 359-6830 or the Stalking Resource Center 855-484-2846.
– EBCI Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Program