Stalking, which has been associated with romantic love, is anything but.
Defined as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact or conduct directed at someone that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear,” it can be directed at anyone of any age or gender from people known or unknown to the victim.
For 85% of completed femicides (a sex-based hate crime in which a female is murdered because of gender), and 75% of attempted femicides, stalking was reported at least once by the victim within the year prior to the event.
And, while women are at greater risk for stalking, with between 8 and 32% victimized at some point in their adult lives, 2 to 13% of men will also become victims, though fewer report these instances to the police, according to a 2013 report in Psychology Today.
In December, Governor Laura Kelly signed a proclamation marking January as Stalking Awareness Month in Kansas.
“Stalking is a crime in Kansas,” Kelly’s proclamation states. “Kansas recognizes stalking as intentionally or recklessly engaging in a course of conduct targeted at a specific person which would cause that person in under normal circumstances to fear for their or their family member’s safety.”
A whopping 93% of the time, the victim knows the person who is stalking them, and about half of reported stalking offenses are committed by a current or past romantic partner.
These incidents are largely associated with violence and assault. And, it can last for years.
It’s important for everyone, women and men, to become more aware of these frightening statistics, and learn how to respond to and support victims appropriately.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers online resources both in English and Spanish at https://www.cdc.gov/features/prevent-stalking/index.html.
Locally, The Family Crisis Center offers qualified support for individuals who believe they are victims of this crime. Great Bend is fortunate to have such qualified persons prepared to step in and guide victims and their families, and the organization deserves our support.