January is National Stalking Awareness Month

Helping Services for Youth & Families’ Domestic Abuse Resource Center (DARC) is recognizing National Stalking Awareness Month in January to recognize and respond to this criminal, traumatic, and dangerous victimization.

According to DARC sources, stalking impacts nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men in the United States but too often goes unrecognized and unaddressed.

“It takes all of us – advocacy and support services, legal systems, and victims/survivors and their friends and family – to better recognize and respond to stalking. This month, Helping Services invites you to join our efforts to spread awareness about stalking through the theme “KNOW IT, NAME IT, STOP IT”,” said one DARC spokesperson.

Stalking is a dangerous and devastating victimization in its own right and often intersects with physical and sexual violence. Stalking increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by three times, and 1 in 5 stalkers use weapons to threaten or harm victims. Survivors often suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression as a result of their victimization, and many lose time from work and/or relocate.

Stalking can impact every aspect of a survivor’s life, yet many victims, families, service providers, criminal and civil justice professionals, and the public underestimate its danger and urgency. The vast majority of victims tell friends or family about their situation first, and how we respond influences whether they seek further help or not.

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear or emotional distress. Individual incidents in the pattern may or may not be criminal acts. As fear is highly personal, so is stalking; stalkers often engage in behaviors that seem benign to outsiders but are terrifying in context. Most stalkers target people that they know, and the majority of stalkers are intimate partners or acquaintances who often have intimate knowledge about the victim’s vulnerabilities and fears.

Most stalkers use technology and in-person tactics to watch, contact, threaten, sabotage, and/or otherwise frighten their victims. Common stalking tactics include unwanted calls/texts/emails/messages, showing up uninvited, spreading rumors, and being followed and watched.

Helping Services for Youth & Families’ DARC has a 24/7 resource line please call 800-383-2988 or visit www.helpingservices.org/chat to access a chat option with an advocate.

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