Straight, No Chaser: About Stalking
Although stalking awareness conversations aren’t held very often, the scope of stalking is such that you should know about it. Stalking is a serious endeavor, and unfortunately it is quite common. This Straight, No Chaser addresses the scope of stalking.
Stalking has many legal definitions, but you really don’t need a legal definition to know it when you experience it. Formally, the varying definitions involve the following considerations:
- Stalking involves actions from one individual directed toward another specific individual.
- Stalking involves actions that predictably would cause fear in a reasonable person.
Consider the following data from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- An estimated 6.6 million people are stalked per year in the U.S.
- Over current lifetimes, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization, specifically including the fear or belief that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men report a less severe state of stalking, which includes any amount of fear (i.e., fear, but of a lesser level than a life threatening fear).
- 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
- In many instances, stalking begins when victims are relatively young. 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. Additionally, about 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 14 male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17.
- 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
Stalking is to be taken seriously. Consider these additional statistics.
- 76% of intimate partner femicide victims had been stalked by their intimate partner, and 67% had been previously physically abused by their intimate partner.
- 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
- 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method.
- 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach.
- Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases.
- Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before.
- 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
Stalking is incapacitating in many cases.
- 46% of stalking victims fear not knowing what will happen next.
- 29% of stalking victims fear the stalking will never stop.
- 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a direct result of their victimization; more than half of these lose 5 days of work or more.
- 1 in 7 stalking victims move as a result of their victimization.
- Stalking victims suffer from higher levels anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression than the general population.
Know your rights, and know your options. It would seem there is room for better protection of victims. Although stalking is a crime under the laws of all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories and the federal government, less than 1/3 of states classify stalking as a felony upon first offense. Fortunately, more than 1/2 of states classify stalking as a felony upon second or subsequent offense or when the crime involves aggravating factors such as possession of a deadly weapon, violation of a court order or condition of probation/parole, involvement of a victim under 16 years or the same victim as prior occasions. Most unfortunately, 54% of femicide victims reported being stalked to police before they were eventually killed.
Stalking is not an innocent occurrence. You would do well to document your concerns and involve friends, family and the authorities for any instance in which you find yourself violated or in a compromised position.
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