Guest post by: Kristopher Kole Wyckhuys, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN
January is Stalking Awareness Month. In its most fundamental form stalking is defined as any unwanted obsessive attention or contact between individuals or groups of people. The contact may be physical or through technology and directly or indirectly communicates an explicit or implied threat, leaving the victim feeling fearful or intimidated.
Legal and societal definitions and understandings of stalking can vary across cultures, over states, through communities and within the anti-violence movement. The criminal and terrifying reality is that most stalkers feel entitled to track their victims like prey and the behaviors may include many forms:
- Any actions, attention and/or behaviors that leave the victim feeling violated, harassed, intimidated, threatened, fearful and/or controlled
- Physically following the victim, driving by or stopping in unannounced
- Repeated phone calls, text/email messages, even when ignored or the victim asks them to stop
- Monitoring technology, hacking social media accounts, using GPS or hidden cameras, accessing public records, intercepting mail or going through trash
- Sending unwanted gifts, letters, or cards
- Showing up at the victims work, classes, hangouts, or relatives homes
- Damaging property, threatening harm to the victim or property, family, friends and/or pets
Any one of these behaviors as a stand-alone entity may not be defined as stalking. According to the Stalking Resource Center an excellent working definition would include: a pattern of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The statistics around stalking victimization, impact and lethality are equally as alarming.
HAVEN is Oakland County Michigan’s center for the treatment and prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault. For additional information and victim resources pertaining to stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault you can access your local domestic violence agency, this national hotline, or contact HAVEN’s crisis and support line for information or support.