Archived Story

Take closer look at stalking issue

Published 10:08am Friday, February 14, 2014

Stalking, defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, is happening right here in our community.

A majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, generally a current or former boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. Many stalking incidents involve the use of weapons to threaten, or physically harm, a victim. The vast majority of victims murdered by their partners were stalked prior to their deaths. Being stalked has an incredible effect on a victim. Stalking victims are much more likely to experience anxiety, insomnia and severe depression than the general population. Their anxiety is caused in part by their victimization not being taken seriously by family and friends, or the criminal justice system.

Even though there are laws against stalking in all 50 states, many times stalking behaviors are still handled inappropriately by law enforcement. Viewing stalking incidents individually rather than taking a good look at the whole picture is part of the problem.

Many times law enforcement’s answer is for the victim to get a restraining order. A restraining order can be a valuable tool for law enforcement to use, but it actually provides no protection from harm, and can actually escalate a stalking situation, especially if reported violations are not promptly charged as crimes.

Any community member dealing with a stalking situation is encouraged to call an advocate at the Crime Victims Resource Center to talk about options to increase his or her safety, and how to effectively present concerns to law enforcement or the criminal justice system to see if the stalker can be criminally charged. Crime Victims Resource Center advocates are available at no charge, 24 hours a day by calling 507-437-6680.

 

Lana Hollerud

Crime Victims Resource Center

Austin