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What is stalking?
Fundamentally, stalking is a course of action that puts a person in fear for their safety.
The stalker may follow you, harass you, call you on the telephone, watch your house, send
you mail you don't want, or act in some other way that frightens you.
The exact legal definition varies from state to state, but all states now have some kind
of law against stalking. Virtually any unwanted contact between a stalker and their victim
which directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can
generally be referred to as stalking, whether or not it meets a statešs exact legal
Stalkers use a wide variety of methods to harass their targets. The inventiveness,
persistence, and obsessive nature of stalkers is almost unimaginable, until you have
experienced being the target.
Stalking is a serious, potentially life-threatening crime. Even in its less severe forms,
it permanently changes the lives of the people who are victimized by this crime, as well
as affecting their friends, families, and co-workers. Law enforcement is only beginning to
understand how to deal with this relatively new crime.
Stalking is more common than you might think, although it is hard to get accurate figures
because law enforcement organizations have only recently started keeping records. Best
estimates indicate that as many as 1.4 million Americans are stalked each year; and that 1
in 20 women will become targets of stalking behavior at least once during their lifetimes.
Are stalkers really dangerous?
They certainly can be! Many stalkers change behavior over time and escalate the frequency
or the intensity of their contacts. Some of the most dangerous stalkers give little or no
warning before they attack. Some people who are being stalked are more afraid than they
need to be, and others are not as afraid as they should be.
Safety for Stalking Victims
There is a new book you should know about, Safety for Stalking Victims, by Lyn Bates of
AWARE. Stalking victims are continuously confronted with the possibility of frightening,
unpleasant actions against them, ranging from invasions of privacy all the way to lethal
violence, but they are seldom given concrete, detailed advice on what to do about it. The
purpose of this book is to change all that.
Are you being stalked? Do you know someone who is?
It started with an invitation to dinner. Or perhaps it began with a gift of flowers from
an anonymous admirer. Or maybe it began with a peculiar letter from a "fan." Or
it started with a silent , ominous watcher . Or maybe it started with the growled threat.
However it started, you now feel uncomfortable every time the phone rings, every time you
have to be out alone at night, every time you go to your car or reach for your mail. He is
out there, somewhere, and his unceasing, unwanted attentions make your skin crawl and your
You never thought it would happen to you, but you are being stalked.
Stalking is an insidious crime that eats away at your sense of security, leaving you
feeling more vulnerable than ever before in your life.
So, what do you do now?
Contact AWARE! Our services are free. www.aware.org
How can AWARE help?
If you're being stalked, or just harassed and annoyed, you can't put your safety entirely
in the hands of someone else. The legal process can take years, and police procedures can
vary widely across the country. Your safety has to rest primarily in your own hands. Too
often people in danger are told to "be careful" without being told HOW to be
careful. AWARE can provide the "how."
If you are interested in learning more about stalking, gaining confidence in managing your
situation, and not becoming a statistic, contact AWARE. We have programs specifically
designed to meet the needs of women, and men, who are being victimized by this terrible
crime. More and more people are contacting AWARE when they face the challenge of
protecting themselves. Some people call us because they are being stalked, or had been at
one time. These people had made the decision to take what some people might call
"extreme" measures to protect themselves. But all of those "extreme"
individuals are still alive today.
AWARE can be a vital resource for stalking victims, and for others who want to help them,
such as friends, family, employers, law enforcement officials, social workers,
self-defense instructors, victim advocates, lawyers, and victim service providers. AWARE
can help to evaluate and manage stalking situations; our primary focus is on the safety of
the person being stalked. Of course, no organization can provide you with complete
guidelines that guarantee your safety, but AWARE can offer very practical information that
may substantially reduce the chances of your stalker inflicting physical or emotional
Every stalker, every stalking target, and every stalking situation is different. Stalking
targets need, and deserve, individualized, personalized care, attention, and respect.
AWARE provides information and training that promotes self-responsibility and the
implementation of effective strategies for safety.
If you are a stalking victim, AWARE can help you...
If you think you might be being stalked, even if you are not sure...
Consider that you could be in extreme danger. Report it to the police. Keep a very careful
log of every incident and every situation.
Information presented as a public service courtesy of www.aware.org for women
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