January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Stalking is a serious, dangerous crime that impacts many people. Anyone can experience stalking. According to research done by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in six women and one in 17 men have experienced some form of stalking in their lifetime.
The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Research Center (SPARC) defines stalking as “a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.” Stalkers use different strategies of surveillance, life invasion, interference, and intimidation. The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence gives the following examples of common stalking behaviors: repeated phone calls, texts, or social media contacts; showing up wherever someone goes; following someone when they travel; giving someone unwanted gifts; damaging someone’s property; monitoring phone calls or computer usage, or any other actions that control, track, or frighten someone. Surveillance can be both physical, such as following someone in a dark alley, or digital, such as tracking someone else’s GPS. Stalking can be frightening and overwhelming, and it is never the victim’s fault. All responsibility lies with the perpetrator who chose to inflict fear and suffering.
In the state of Idaho, until recently, those being stalked were unable to file a civil protection order against stalking if they were not in a relationship with the perpetrator. Now all stalking survivors have the option. The WCA’s Court Advocates help provide assistance to those seeking relief through the legal system. Court Advocates are able to provide information and resources regarding matters like divorce, custody, and civil protection orders. Through the civil protection order process, Court Advocates are able to talk through the protection order process, help with filling out initials petitions, and offer support and resources through their court proceedings, including accompanying petitioners to their hearings. If you would like to get in touch with a WCA Court Advocate, call 208.343.3688, ext. 200.
For more information on civil protection orders and the process in Idaho, refer here. For more information on stalking and ways to help yourself or someone else experiencing it, please visit the SPARC or the Idaho Coalition.