Defense Against Crime

11/01/2010

Are you being watched?

January is Stalking Awareness Month

When I think of stalking I think of the case involving actress Theresa Saldana
For those of you not familiar with this incident, on March 15, 1982, Saldana was the stalking victim of Arthur Richard Jackson, a 46-year-old drifter from Aberdeen, Scotland. According to investigation reports, Jackson became attracted to Saldana after seeing her in the 1980 film Defiance. He obtained Saldana’s address by hiring a private investigator to obtain the unlisted phone number of Saldana’s mother. Jackson then called Saldana’s mother and posed as Martin Scorsese’s assistant, saying he needed Saldana’s residential address in order to contact her for replacing an actress in a film role in Europe.   Jackson approached Saldana in front of her residence, in broad daylight, and stabbed her in the torso ten times, with a 5 1/2 inch (14 cm) knife, nearly killing her. The attack was so fierce that he bent the blade in his rage.


Although there were many nearby onlookers, the attack was only interrupted when bottled water deliveryman, Jeff Fenn, who heard her cries, rushed from the second floor of an apartment building and subdued Jackson. Saldana recovered after four hours of surgery and a four-month hospital stay at the Motion Picture Hospital.
Our desire is this doesn’t happen again to anyone by arming you with the knowledge and tools to reduce your chances of being a victim.

Definition –Stalking can be difficult to identify at first.  Initially a victim may not feel there is any cause for alarm and may feel flattered by the attention.  If the behavior escalates and becomes more overt, this could present a very real threat to the victim.

The exact definition of stalking varies by state, but in general, stalking refers to “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.” Examples of this behavior include:

  • Repeated undesired contact (visitation, phone calls, emails, letters, show up unexpectedly, etc.).  
  • Undesired following, visiting, or waiting, for the individual.
  • Making threats to the individual or her/his family.
  • Any other behavior used to contact, harass, track, or threaten the individual.

Cyberstalkers” or “Cyber Bullies” use techniques such as sending threatening or obscene mail, sending viruses, harassing victims in chat rooms, or assuming a person’s identity online.  Stalking is a series of persistent acts over a period of time.  You may not be sure of the “intent” of the stalker but you should still report incidents that concern you.  Situations which do not meet the legal standard still could be pursued through the Office of Judicial Programs.

Brief Overview of StalkingLaw Enforcement Statistics indicate that about 3.4 million people are victims of stalking  in the USA each year. The primary victims are young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.  With the exception of celebrities, most victims know their stalker. About 1 in 4 victims experienced some form of cyberstalking.

  • Almost 60 percent of female and 30 percent of male victims are stalked by an intimate partner annually in the United States. (The National Center for Victims of Crime, Stalking Resource Center — October 2005)
  • The majority of victims who did not report their victimization to the police thought the police would not or could not do anything on their behalf. These findings suggest that most victims of intimate partner violence do not consider the justice system an appropriate vehicle for resolving conflicts with intimates. (National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence — July 2000)
  • The average stalking duration by an intimate partner is 2.2 years. (The National Center for Victims of Crime, Stalking Resource Center — October 2005)


Are you being stalked?
If you are experiencing consistent unwanted attention or contact from an crazy “ex” boy-friend, girl-friend, or spouse, a co-worker, a student from a class, a distant friend or even a stranger, then you may be a stalking victim.

Stalking traits (the things stalkers do) :

  •  Persistently requesting dates with you , when you have repeatedly said “No” or that your not interested.
  • Repeatedly making phone calls, or sending letters, e-mails, IM messages, or pages on your beeper, even when you told them to stop. 
  •  Hanging around where you work or live.
  • Following you or showing up at your work, residence, car or class.
  • Psychological manipulation such as
    o Guilt Trips  
    o unfounded accusations
    o inappropriate gift-giving
    o Breaking into your home or car.
    o Physically assaulting you.
    o Injury or death to a pet.

What you can do?

  •  Make your feelings known early. Tell your stalker in a clear firm direct voice, or message that their contact is unwanted and undesired by you and you want them to stop now.
  •  Avoid all contact with the stalker.
  • Tell a friend, family member supervisors, and co-workers , or if you are a student, let a faculty member know what is happening. You want others to know in case something happens.
  • Get Caller ID on your phone/s. Get unlisted phone numbers, change your e-mail address, get a temporary P.O. Box.  You can even get a voice changing machine so that it’s not your voice that answers the phone, and make them think you have someone living with you.  Some device can make you sound as a different gender.
  • Contact the Police.  It is helpful to have records of e-mails, phone messages, letters, packages, taped telephone messages, or other evidence of the stalking.  Make copies and give them to a close friend and the police. Keep a detailed written log of these communications and contacts. 
  • Carry some type of personal protection product (we recommend something non-lethal but effective)
  •  You may want to get a restraining order to require the offender to stay away from you.  The offender could be punished with a fine or jail time.

What stalking victims may experience:Stalking is never the victim’s fault.  It is important that you understand that what is happening to you is not normal, not your fault and not caused by anything that you have done.  Stalking often takes a toll on victims.  They may experience anxiety, fear, anger, depression, Nervousness, isolation, changes in sleep or appetite, stress, feelings of being out of control, nightmares, or an inability to concentrate. Seek help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

The impact of stalking can be profound and life altering. Individuals who are stalked often change many of their behavior patterns and have strong emotional responses to the stalking.

Stalking Laws
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have anti-stalking laws. However, the legal definitions vary. For more information about your state’s stalking laws.

Stalking Resources

By Victor Swindell, owner of PepperEyes.com, a division of Swindell Enterprises. PepperEyes.com is dedicated to assist those people who are unwilling to become a victim and are taking personal responsibility to protect themselves, and their families with our pepper spray, stun guns, and other personal security products. In today’s society being equipped mentally and physically is no longer an option.

 

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1 Comment

  1. […]  A decades ago, a stalker was someone who repeatedly followed another person around town, pranked called your home or even peeked in your bedroom window. Now with the use of modern easy to use technology, a new form of stalking has risen called Cyber -stalking.  This is the second and final article in our stalking series. […]

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    Pingback by You’ve Got Mail « Personal Protection and Security — 13/01/2010 @ 4:35 PM


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