Jan 21, 2013 11:56 AM by Claire Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
January marks National Stalking Awareness Month, and Victim-Witness Assistance Services in Great Falls is hoping to shine some light on this national and local problem.
National Stalking Awareness Month starting almost a decade ago and hopes to teach people about this common problem that often goes unreported.
Over the past five years, Cascade County has seen around 300 reported cases of stalking; that does not include harassment charges or incidents that go unreported.
Victim-Witness Assistance Services encourages people to take precautions to protect their privacy, including setting privacy settings on social media and to be aware of those around you.
Lacey Racine of VWAS encourages members of the community to speak up about the problem, take action, and know the signs of stalking.
Racine noted, "When it feels uncomfortable, when it's unwanted attention, it starts with harassment, it can escalate and you never want to deal with it on your own, you do want to get the help. you do want to call the police station or Victim-Witness and we can help point out those signs."
VWAS offers the following tips:
Make sure to document all incidents involving stalkers, including messages, phone calls, or personal contact.
Do not confront or communicate with the stalker - let law enforcement do this.
Always report any suspicous activity and report your concerns to law enforcement as soon as possible.
Visit StalkingAwarenessMonth.org for more information.
According to the website:
• 6.6 million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
• 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. Using a less conservative definition of stalking, which considers any amount of fear (i.e., a little fearful, somewhat fearful, or very fearful), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men reported being a victim of stalking in their lifetime.
• The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
• More than half of female victims and more than 1/3 of male victims of stalking indicated that they were stalked before the age of 25.
• About 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 14 male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17.
• 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
• 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.