Taking Stalking Seriously
By Barb Dinkel Goodrich
January 2022 marks the eighth National Stalking Awareness Month, an annual call to action to recognize and respond to this traumatic and dangerous crime.
Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear or emotional distress. Stalkers often follow, monitor, and wait for their victims, as well as leave them unwanted gifts, spread rumors about them, and repeatedly call, text, and message them. This behavior is not something to be taken lightly. Stalking is criminal, traumatic, and dangerous, and impacts over 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men in the United States. Victims and survivors often suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression as a result of their victimization, and many lose time from work and/or choose to relocate. Unfortunately, many victims, service providers, criminal justice professionals, and members of the general public underestimate its danger and urgency.
This year’s National Stalking Awareness Month theme is “Know It. Name It. Stop It.” We all have a role to play in identifying stalking, intervening when necessary, and supporting victims and survivors. It’s time we all take stalking seriously.