January National Stalker Awareness Month

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 21, 2009 – Southeast Missouri State University’s VICTORY program, in collaboration with the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), is recognizing January as National Stalker Awareness Month.

VICTORY — Violence, Information, Counseling, Treatment, Outreach, Rights and You — is a campus-based federal grant program that aims at educating University students and staff about realities of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking.  The program also connects survivors with the resources they need.

VICTORY joins the OVW, in partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime, in the January 2009 campaign “Know it. Name it. Stop it.”  This resource assists programs like Southeast’s VICTORY initiative into integrating stalking awareness into prevention and outreach efforts and rigorously confronts this crime.

Linda Keena, assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology at Southeast, says the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics released a supplemental report to the National Crime Victimization Survey focused on Stalking Victimization in the United States.  This report is the most comprehensive study of stalking to date and confirms that stalking is pervasive, women are at higher risk of being stalked, and there is a dangerous intersection between stalking and more violent crimes, Keena said. 

She says the study found that during a 12-month period, an estimated 3.4 million people (age 18 or older) were victims of stalking.  Surpassing previous estimates of stalking, the study noted persons age 18 to 19 and 20 to 24 experienced the highest rates of stalking victimization. 

The study, she added, further illustrates a dangerous reality that women are at higher risk of stalking victimization.  Females experienced 20 stalking victimizations per 1,000 females age 18 or older.  The rate of stalking victimization for males was approximately seven per 1,000 males age 18 or older, she said.

Seven in 10 victims sought help, according to the study, Keena said.  Approximately 60 percent do not report victimization to the police.  Most enlisted the help of family or friends while only 7 percent contacted victim services, a shelter, or helpline, Keena said.

These findings, she says, delineate some clear priorities for everyone – law enforcement officers, prosecutors, advocates, judges, or friends and colleagues – that awareness must be raised that stalking is a violent crime against women.  Secondly, in conjunction with a victim-centered approach, Keena says services can be integrated to stalking victims in the same way victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are served.  These crimes are interrelated and stalking is often times a result of intimate partner violence, she said.

For more information on stalking, call VICTORY project coordinator, call (573) 986-6899.  The VICTORY office at Southeast is located in the University Center, Room 422 Center for Student Development.