Tahoe SAFE Alliance | Be aware of stalking dangers | SierraSun.com

Tahoe SAFE Alliance | Be aware of stalking dangers

Kristin Erickson
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year. This yearand#8217;s theme and#8212; and#8220;Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.and#8221; and#8212; challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime through education.

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact. In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims, and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships. Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.

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, burglary, or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits. One in four victims reports the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices or hidden cameras to track the victimand#8217;s daily activities. 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.

A variety of resources and tools are available to increase victimsand#8217; safety, hold perpetrators accountable, and build awareness. Contact Tahoe SAFE Allianceand#8217;s 24 Hour Help Line at 800-736-1060 for emotional support, safety planning, referrals to community services, and information about state statutes and legal remedies available in their area.

and#8212; Kristin Erickson is with Americorps and Tahoe SAFE Alliance