Stalking Imposes Serious Risks for Those Fleeing Abuse
Written by Melody A.
Communications & Development Intern
Stalking is a dangerous act that is often connected to domestic violence and/or sexual violence. Like other cases of violence, the perpetrator is more often than not a person that the victim knows. It could be a current or former spouse, partner, co-worker, friend, family member, etc. Whatever the case may be, stalking can pose a serious risk for survivors attempting to find a safe place to stay after an abusive relationship.
Stalking: the legal definition of stalking is, “The act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death especially because of express or implied threats.” This includes any unwanted behavior such as repeatedly calling/texting, showing up to someone’s work/house, monitoring activities, or following someone.
Stalking is often a form of escalation in domestic violence. Perpetrators use stalking as a way to gain control over their victim. If other ways of gaining control are failing, stalking may be a different and more serious way for a perpetrator to exert their power.
When someone is being stalked, there are very few places that are truly safe. In order to escape the perpetrator, an individual may be forced to move to another city or state. Stalkers will often use any tactic possible – tricking family or friends, hacking technology, tracking victims, and more – to find their whereabouts.
Perpetrators of stalking are not often held accountable by the legal system. Repercussions of stalking only occur when there is a clear threat to the victim’s wellbeing or a history of physical violence. It is often difficult to gather evidence in cases of stalking. Taking screenshots of conversations and pictures/videos of the stalking taking place are heavily encouraged.
When fleeing an abusive relationship, Resilience can help survivors file for a Personal Protection Order (PPO), a court order restricting contact in order to stop threats and/or violence. Resilience also works with survivors to find safe, confidential housing that cannot be traced easily. There are also certain safety tools that we can provide for stalking victims.
When it comes to fleeing abuse, confidential emergency shelters are essential to the survivor’s safety. Resilience provides one of the only confidential emergency shelters in our area, as well as services and programs designed to keep survivors safe during the most dangerous time in their lives.
Do you want to help victims of stalking? One way you can help today is by donating to our Safe Nights Campaign. Donations can help cover costs of security systems, serving fees for PPOs, mattresses and bedding, security deposits for safe housing, and rent. Any amount can make a difference.
If you or someone you know has experienced stalking, we are here to help. Our advocates are specially trained in filing Personal Protection Orders in Ottawa and Allegan counties. Please contact us for important safety information regarding stalking.
For free and confidential support, contact us today:
24-Hour Help Line: 1-800-848-5991
Hablamos Español: 1-866-728-2131
Safe E-mail: GinnyP411@gmail.com
To donate to Safe Nights, click here.