TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Release from Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence:
"January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects 6.6 million victims in one year.1 This year’s theme—"Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It."— challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia, yet many people underestimate its seriousness and impact. In one in five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims,2 and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for homicide of women in abusive relationships.3
Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear. Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, or burglary, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits.
Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many stalkers follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making it difficult for authorities to investigate and prosecute their crimes. Most stalkers are known to their victims, such as friends, family members, acquaintances, spouses, or ex-partners or ex-spouses. In Kansas in 2012, 90 percent of stalking cases reported to law enforcement involved stalkers that were known to the victims. The majority of these cases involved female victims (83.7 percent) and male stalkers (81.8 percent).4
"One aspect of stalking that we are seeing more of in Kansas is the use of technology to stalk," says Joyce Grover, Executive Director of KCSDV. "With the rapid progression and availability of smartphones, tablets, downloadable apps, and GPS-enabled devises comes the misuse of these technologies by stalkers to stalk and harass their victims," continues Grover. Nationally, one in four victims report that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, GPS devices, or hidden cameras, to track the victim's daily activities.5 To help address this issue in Kansas, KCSDV has developed and provides training on investigating and collecting digital or electronic evidence in stalking cases.
Communities that understand stalking can support victims and combat the crime. "If more people learn to recognize stalking," says Grover, "we have a better chance to protect victims, hold offenders accountable, and prevent tragedies."
For additional resources or to learn more about stalking visit www.kcsdv.org/resources/nsam.html or www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org."