Governor Pat McCrory proclaimed January to be Stalking Awareness Month in North Carolina. He is the first governor to do so. Stalking can be defined as the willful and repeated following, watching and/or harassing of another person. Unlike other crimes, which usually involve one act, stalking is a series of actions that occur over a period of time.  It creates fear in the individual being stalked.

Approximately 7.5 million people are stalked in this country annually, most often by someone they know.  Three out of every four victims of intimate partner violence were stalked by their partners.  Stalking can include watching or tracking a victim and showing up in unwanted places, such as the victim’s home, school, or workplace.  Most stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, but many do so daily, resorting to a variety of tactics including unwanted phone calls, text messages, emails, cards, or gifts.  Victims of stalking experience elevated levels of anxiety and emotional distress, particularly if it involves the destruction of personal property and being followed.  Unfortunately, stalking is difficult to investigate and prosecute and current laws do not adequately promote victim safety and protection.

Stalking is strongly correlated with domestic violence and sexual assault.  As a community we must learn more about stalking and take action to promote the safety and protection of victims of this crime.  We need to bring stalking out of the shadows.

If you would like to become more aware about stalking, or if you are a victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual assault, please contact one of Family Services’ 24-hour crisis lines, (336) 723-8125 or (336) 722-4457, or visit Safe Relationships online.

By Bob Feikema,
President and CEO, Family Services