January is National Stalking Awareness Month
By Deb Bauer, Community Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator, Hope House of South Central WI
January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a call to action to bring attention to this prevalent, traumatic and dangerous crime. We define stalking as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear or emotional distress.
Stalking often intersects with physical violence, sexual violence, and homicide. Yet stalking is often trivialized, minimized, and goes unrecognized and unaddressed. Why? Because stalkers often engage in behaviors that seem benign to outsiders but are terrifying in context, like unwanted phone calls and constant texts. The majority of stalking victims experience both in-person and technology-facilitated stalking (something Hope House is seeing regularly).
The results of stalking affect every aspect of a victim’s life — and it is illegal. It takes all of us — victims/survivors, friends and family, along with advocacy and support services like Hope House and the legal system — to recognize, respond and bring awareness to this crime. If you or someone you know is affected by stalking, contact Hope House 24/7 at (800) 584–6790 or www.hopehousescw.org for help and more information. Hope House works to prevent abuse and provide support to victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Sauk, Columbia, Juneau, Marquette and Adams counties with free and confidential services including advocacy, legal assistance, support groups, emergency shelter and education.