January marks the eighteenth National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM), an annual call to action to recognize and educate about this traumatic and dangerous crime.
Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior to a specific person that causes fear or emotional distress. Stalkers follow, monitor, and wait for their victims, often leaving them unwanted gifts, spreading rumors, and repeatedly calling, texting, and messaging them.
It’s critical to raise the issue of stalking as a form of interpersonal violence as well as a crime that frequently predicts and co-occurs with physical and sexual assault. Stalking impacts more than 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men in America and yet despite this number, many victims, families, service providers, criminal justice professionals, and the community often underestimate its danger and urgency.
The majority of stalking victims experience both in-person and technological stalking. The most common types of technological abuse — harassment, limiting access to technology, and surveillance — increased during the pandemic.
We all can help in identifying stalking, intervening when necessary, and supporting victims and survivors. Hope House staff are here to educate, build awareness and help.
If you think your are being stalked, or want to support someone who is dealing with a stalker, please call Hope House’s 24-hour helpline at 1–800–584–6790, or visit the Hope House website at www.HopeHouseSCW.org.
Deb Bauer, Community Engagement & Volunteer Coordinator
Hope House of South Central WI