October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year, we are focusing on turning awareness into action.
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Stalking is often a crime related to domestic violence. 30% of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.1 Abusers often use stalking tactics to either enforce their power and control, or to try to regain that power and control when they feel their influence slipping. According to the Centers for Diesease Control and Prevention, women have a significantly higher lifetime incidence of stalking than do men.2
Just like with many other forms of abuse, people who experience stalking live with the anxiety of never knowing what will happen next. Stalking in unpredictable, and scary. Stalking victims report higher than average rates of anxiety, insomnia, and social disfunction than do people in the general population, particularly if their experience includes being followed, or having their property destroyed3. Many victims take major steps to try to make the stalking stop, including moving from their homes.
Has your abuser ever:
These are all examples of stalking behaviors. It's important to remember that you may not know that your abuser is stalking you. For example, it can be surprisingly easy for someone to use technology to track your whereabouts without you ever knowing they are doing it. If you are experiencing abuse, consider whether stalking could be a part of the picture.
What to do if you are being stalked
No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety:
Remember: it is important to take stalking seriously. It is a crime under the laws of 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government. However, laws vary from state to state, as do precise definitions of what constitutes stalking. For a compilation of state, tribal, and federal laws related to stalking, visit the Stalking Resource Center.
1Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC:BJS, 2009).
2Breiding, M.J., Chen J., & Black, M.C. (2014). Intimate Partner Violence in the United States — 2010. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3Eric Blauuw et al., “The Toll of Stalking,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, no. 1 (2002):50-63.