Stalking is a serious matter. When someone repeatedly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel afraid or unsafe, you are being stalked. While the actual legal definition varies from one state to another, it is still the same thing and it needs to be stopped. Both women and men can be stalking victims and the stalker can be someone you know, or a total stranger.
I'm mentioning this today because January is Stalking Awareness Month. It's terrible that such a month is needed, but the fact that 6.6 million adults are stalked in the United States in one year shows that we have a lot of work to do.
Federal law defines stalking as "engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress." California Penal Code Section 646.9, developed and proposed by Municipal Court Judge John Watson of Orange County, became the first anti-stalking law in the United States, back in 1990. The other states have since followed, but this is one of the more difficult crimes to prosecute. Awareness is so very important.
I'm going to give you some resources here and I urge you to use these and to share them as well. First, the Stalking Resource Center has a website HERE that is loaded with information. Then click HERE for a stalking fact sheet that answers many questions. The Stalking Awareness Month website HERE has even news including a quiz. Remember too that stalking is not romantic and it is not a joke. We need to do something though and together we CAN make a difference! We can help “know, name, and stop” stalking whenever it happens.