January Is Stalking Awareness Month
|Until you are a victim, there is no real understanding of what
stalking is or the physical and emotional devastation and impact it has on not only the
victim, but also family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Many people and police officers tend to believe that the victim is fabricating, overreacting, or that it's simply too bizarre to be real. All of a sudden the victim is being followed, continual drive-bys to their home or office, the stalker appears out of no where, no matter where the victim is or how careful they may have been. Victims start receiving countless phone calls, messages, pages, e-mails, unwanted gifts, letters, notes and possibly death threats. Tires on their vehicle(s) are often slashed or damage to their home occurs. Pets are injured, suddenly disappear or are found dead.
Simple things in life that many take for granted are soon taken from the victim. They can no longer answer their phone or drive in their car without constant fear. A victim soon learns that he/she can't meet family members or friends for lunch or dinner or even stop to talk to someone outside their home or office, as they are often times putting everyone in immediate danger . Although many victims have support from family and friends, victims will often pull away for fear that the stalker will take revenge on them. A stalker sees other people as an obstacle in his/her way and will stop at nothing.
When an officer is dispatched on a call relating to domestic violence there is physical evidence (pictures can be taken of injuries, overturned or damaged property and excited utterances of the parties involved can be heard). What do stalking victim's experience when an officer responds to their calls? It's left entirely up to the victim to convince the officer that they are in fear for their life and that the phone calls, recorded messages, cards, letters, dead animals, unwanted flowers left at their door, and threats are far more than just harassment. Stalking victims don't have the physical bruises to show. Day after day they are mentally raped. Can pictures prove their anguish or their fight to survive? No. Are their stalkers there when the police arrive? No. Almost every stalking victim you speak with will tell you the same thing. "It would have been much easier if he/she had just shot and killed me than the hell I went through" or "no one would believe me, especially officers." "Everyone thought I was the crazy one."
In essence, stalking is more than just harassment and verbal threats - it's an act of terrorism that a victim faces every hour of every day. Often times the nightmare of stalking does not end for the victim when the stalker is incarcerated, awaiting trial or even after sentencing. Victims are still faced with obstacles to overcome after the stalker is released.
Stalkers know no boundaries and they do not comprehend nor do they understand the true meaning of the word "NO". They come from all walks of life from the poor to the rich and famous. They can be laborers or they can be professional, well-educated members of society. Many come from well-respected families. There are no age limits.
Stalking can happen to anyone. Until the general public, law enforcement and judicial systems understand that, lives will be lost for nothing more than lack of education. Until higher bonds are set and stiffer sentencing in all states are given, stalkers will be allowed to continue without any remorse.