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Stalking: It's not harmless, it's a crime.

The Center is bringing attention to stalking in all forms for National Stalking Awareness Month.

Romantic comedies have a tendency to feature lovable, endearing people, on a quest for true love, studying the object of their affection, taking the same classes and activities, asking others about them, and attempting to “accidentally” run into them in the same spots.

But in reality, such actions are often unwarranted, unwelcome, and unwanted.

Encouraging stalking behavior can have real, damaging consequences. According to the National Center for victims of Crime, one in six women and one in 19 men have experienced stalking.

It is essential for victims, survivors, service provides, and the criminal justice system to be identify and name stalking. It is a serious crime that impacts every community.

Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. It can include (but is not limited to):

  • Repeated unwanted contact, including through phone calls, texts, social media

  • Leaving strange or threatening items

  • Leaving unwanted cards, letters, flowers, or presents

  • Following, watching or spying on someone

Fear is the central to the definition of stalking, and context is critical. What is frightening for the victim may not be frightening for others, and many stalking behaviors have specific meaning that is only understood between the offender and victim. As such, stalking criminalizes otherwise non-criminal behavior.

In the intersection of stalking and sexual assault, the stalker may threaten to sexually assault the victim, attempt to get someone else to assault the victim so that they can come in and play the “hero”, or the stalker may themselves sexually assault the victim.

If someone is stalking you, it can be critical to have a safety plan and maintain a log of stalking-related incidents and behavior. A safety plan is a combination of suggestions, plans, and responses to help reduce the risk of harm.

Documenting stalking behavior can be a difficult and emotionally exhausting task, but you do not have to go through it alone.

To learn more about stalking and safety planning, check out these resources: creating a safety plan, help for victims, talking with survivors.

If you are in need of support or advocacy, please know that we are always here to listen and help: 757-236-5260.

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Because Sexual Assault Affects us All

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