OSWEGO, NY – January is National Stalking Awareness Month.
The theme “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It,” challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia.
According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2010), stalking affected 6.6 million victims in one year. However, many victims and criminal justice professionals continue to underestimate its seriousness and impact.
According to Washington D.C.’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (2009), stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten their victims in one out of five cases. Most stalking victims know their stalker, and stalking behaviors have been identified to increase the risk of homicide in intimate partner relationships.
As a result, stalking victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.
Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate and prosecute.
Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear. Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits.
According to the American Journal of Public Health (2003), one in four victims report that their stalker used technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices, or hidden cameras, to track their daily activities. Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many stalkrs follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making it difficult for authorities to investigate and prosecute their crimes.
Communities that understand stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime.
Services to Aid Families, a program of Oswego County Opportunities, provides crisis intervention and support to local survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other related crimes, such as stalking.
The mission of SAF is to assist and empower victims of physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence as well as to mobilize a coordinated community-wide response to those issues.
Prevention education for at-risk groups, including children, adolescents and prior victims is stressed.
SAF offers many services, which include, but are not limited to: 24-hour Abuse and Assault Hotline, 365 days a year; victim advocacy; counseling; information and referral to community resources; and temporary housing for women and children who are escaping domestic violence or experiencing a crisis.
Throughout the month, SAF will be conducting training and awareness activities to promote awareness and public education about stalking during the annual observance, including:
An appearance at the Cayuga Community College Fulton Campus January 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. when representatives from the SAF Program will be on hand to distribute information on Stalking Awareness and the services available through Oswego County Opportunities’ SAF program.
A Cell Phone Donation Drive. Community members can donate working or non-working cell phones at OCO’s main office, 239 Oneida St. in Fulton or at OCO’s Oswego office, 75 E. First St., in the Midtown Plaza.
Additionally, a Fact a Day Campaign can be found on the SAF Facebook Page.
For more information about these and other Stalking Awareness Month events, contact SAF at 315-342-1600.
OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.
A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 80 separate locations.
For more information, visit www.oco.org