January is Stalking Awareness Month. Throughout the country agencies are attempting to cast a light on this often hidden, but very dangerous crime. While the term stalking is used lightly in the community and jokes about it are common, stalking is very serious. It is one of the key indicators of increased danger to victims of domestic violence. Elements of stalking are often present in sexual assault. Perpetrators of stalking often have a close prior relationship to the victim, but not always. Not only is it creepy—and terrifying—it is a sign that the obsession and the danger is escalating.
In Chatham County, we have been working for the past two years to bring increased attention to this issue, starting with a workshop sponsored by the National Stalking Resource Center. We have worked to increase the awareness of everyone—our staff, law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges—of the issues and dangers related to stalking, including both traditional and cyberstalking. We are working together to develop guidelines for intervening and assisting victims. We are also working with more and more victims of stalking to get protective orders and other assistance.
For more information on stalking, contact the National Stalking Resource Center at http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center. If you or someone you know is being stalked, contact FVRC for assistance.
Kathy Hodges, MSW
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