“During a 12-month period, an estimated 3.4 million persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking,” according to a new report from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Bureau defines stalking “as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” This is an increase of 2 million victims per year over the 1.4 million figure found in the last key study on stalking (pdf), completed in 1998 by the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice. This latest report comes in the midst of “National Stalking Awareness Month.”
The report also found:
- About half (46%) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week, and 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more.
- The risk of stalking victimization was highest for individuals who were divorced or separated — 34 per 1,000 individuals.
- Women were at greater risk than men for stalking victimization; however, women and men were equally likely to experience harassment.
- Male (37%) and female (41%) stalking victimizations were equally likely to be reported to the police.
- Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).
- 46% of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next.
- Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.
- More than half of stalking victims lost 5 or more days from work.
Also, “Electronic monitoring was used to stalk 1 in 13 victims. Video or digital cameras were equally likely as listening devices or bugs to be used to electronically monitor victims (46% and 42%). Global positioning system (GPS) technology comprised about a tenth of the electronic monitoring of stalking victims.” (See my previous post on spyware for more info about surveillance technology.)
There are several federal laws against domestic violence, harassment and stalking. There are laws against stalking in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Twenty-six states have address confidentiality programs, which assist domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking survivors in hiding from their attackers. (Generally, under such programs, survivors register with the secretary of State or their attorney general. The survivor is provided an address with that State office, which forwards the mail received there to the enrollee’s residential address.)
Coverage of the report is available at various news sites. You can read the entire report: “Stalking Victimization in the United States (NCJ 224527).” Learn more about stalking from the National Center for Victims of Crimes and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.