January is National Stalking Awareness Month, first observed by the National Center for Victims of Crime in January 2004. Denton County Friends of the Family works diligently to inform and educate our community about the possibility of intimate partner stalking escalating into intimate partner violence. #NSAM
Every year in the United States, 7.5 million people report occurrences of stalking. The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, with half reporting that the incidence occurred before age 25. 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, and 67% of women who are stalked by their intimate partner also report having been physically abused by them.
The Texas penal code defines stalking as when someone knowingly engages in behavior that someone else would find threatening, and that would cause a reasonable person to be afraid. A stalker tries to control his or her victim through behavior or threats intended to intimidate and/or terrify.
Myths and Facts about stalking:
Myth: It can’t be stalking if you’re dating the person.
Fact: Even if you’re dating, if your every move is being tracked by your partner and it causes you fear, that is stalking.
Myth: Only celebrities deal with being stalked.
Fact: The majority of the 7.5 million people who are stalked every year are ordinary people.
Myth: Stalking is annoying and inconvenient but it is not illegal.
Fact: Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Texas, stalking is a 3rd degree felony, and with a prior stalking conviction, it becomes a 2nd degree felony.
If you are being stalked, notify local law enforcement (and possibly the district attorney offices), keep a record that includes names and addresses of witnesses, seek a protective order, record telephone conversations, take pictures of the stalker, and tell as many people as you can. Then, keep telling. Be sure to develop measures to help yourself stay safe. Be alert, vary your routes to and from places you often visit like work or the grocery store, park in secure and well-lit areas, maintain privacy on social media and anywhere conversations could be overhead, and work with agencies like ours to develop a safety plan for yourself and your family members in case of emergency. Most importantly, do not dismiss any threat. A stalker’s behavior has potential to escalate quickly.
If you are a victim of stalking, alert local law enforcement as soon as possible. Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to helping our community stay safe through prevention, education, awareness, intervention, and advocacy. For more information, visit http://victimsofcrime.org/our- programs/stalking-resource-center. Stalking is not romantic and it is not a joke: it is a crime.
Not sure if this applies to you/your relationship? Call our 24-Hour Crisis Line for anonymous information and advice: 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031