January is National Stalking Awareness Month, 31 days dedicated to discussing the need for public awareness about the nature, criminality, and potential lethality of stalking. The theme —“Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.”— challenges us to fight this dangerous crime. Stalking often co-occurs with intimate partner violence and can be an indicator of other forms of violence. Many abusers use stalking to intimidate and control their victims.

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia. Many stalking victims experience being followed, approached, monitored and/or threatened – including through various forms of technology. Stalking impacts 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men in the United States. Most stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. Many victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, or by an acquaintance.

Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or must move because 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 or a course of conduct directed at a specific person. 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.

Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse, as well as unwanted texts, calls, gifts, or visits. Many stalkers use technology—such as cell phones, global positioning systems (GPS), cameras, and spyware— to monitor and track their victims.

Communities that understand stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime. If more people learn to recognize stalking, we have a better chance to protect victims and prevent tragedies. If you or anyone you know is being stalked, or to find out more information about stalking, contact Embrace for free, confidential support at 1-800-924-0556 or text 715-532-6976.

Embrace Services, Inc.: Embrace is the leading voice and comprehensive advocacy services provider for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the four-county service area of Northwestern Wisconsin. At Embrace, we provide unwavering support to survivors. Through education and awareness, we engage our communities and create multi-disciplinary partnerships to increase safety and equity advancing our mission of ending gender-based violence. We strive to create a courageous social change that will end all forms of oppression in our communities. Everyone deserves healthy communities and the support to thrive. If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence or sexual assault, you are not alone! It is not your fault. Embrace is here to help. Contact Embrace for free, confidential advocacy and support at 1.800.924.0556 or text at 715.532.6976.