Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stalking Facts: Correcting Misconceptions

Stalking Facts
For some, stalking is a very real thing to deal with. Contrary to what most people think, it is not exclusive to the rich and famous. As much as 3.4 million people become victims of stalking and come under harm. All U.S. states have made it illegal and punishable by law. Learn other important stalking facts here.

Stalking Defined

While stalking is considered a crime in all U.S. states, legal definitions vary from one state to another. The U.S. Department of Justice defines it as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear." Stalking involves consistent harassment in more than one type of activity over time.
Non-consensual communication is considered stalking behavior. This may come in the form of unwanted phone calls, text messages, email, instant messaging, social media, sending or leaving gifts, and mail. Physical forms of stalking behavior include following or waiting in places the victim frequents, making direct or indirect threats to the victim or people they know, vandalizing, and spying or tracking.

Victims of Stalking

Both men and women can be victims of stalking. In fact, one in nineteen men and one in six women report being stalked at one point in their lives. It is reported that 52 percent of victims are between 18-29 years old when stalking started, 46 percent of victims say they experience unwanted contact at least once a week, and 11 percent say they were stalked for five years or more.
Divorced or separated people have a higher risk of being stalked. Almost half of stalking victims by intimate partners report stalking after the end of the relationship. College students who identify themselves as homosexuals are more likely to experience cyberstalking than heterosexual ones. About 26 percent of victims consider stalking as a personal matter and never report it to police.

Stalker's Profile

Both females and males are reportedly stalked equally. At least 78 percent of stalkers use different methods of approaching their victim. In one out of five cases, weapons are used to threaten or harm the victim. Contrary to popular belief, victims know their stalkers in three out of four cases identifying them as former or current intimate partners, co-workers, or acquaintances. Only 10 percent are stalked by strangers.

Impact of Stalking

Stalking victims feel afraid of their stalkers and may experience insomnia, anxiety, depression, and social dysfunction. Around 26 percent of victims lose time from work, while 7 percent quit altogether. About one in seven report moving because of stalking. Even the victim's properties, family, friends, pets, and other acquaintances may come under threat from their stalkers.

Stalking and the Law

Stalking is a crime in all 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and the Federal government. It is considered a felony on first offense in less than 1/3 of the states. In others, it is a felony in subsequent or second offense or when aggravating factors are involved. This includes violation of a court order or parole, possessing a deadly weapon, victim less than 16 years, and involves the same victim.

Stalking is a serious crime but sometimes it is not taken as seriously as it should. The problem is how the public sees it. Much of the misconception stems from a lack of knowledge on the matter. Learning stalking facts helps reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Moreover, it helps debunk myths and correct misconceptions.

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