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Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

RCASA’s Sunday Book/Article Review: “Why Me? Addressing the Spiritual and Emotional Trauma of Sexual Assault”

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 31, 2010 at 9:00 am

Article Review: “Why Me?  Addressing the Spiritual and Emotional Trauma of Sexual Assault”

By Rev. Pamela Washburn, MDiv., BCC

as reviewed by Tanya Singleton, Intern

Those who work in the hospital emergency room/trauma center arena witness catastrophic injuries on a daily basis, and sometimes find themselves numb to the spiritual and emotional issues that arise, especially in the face of life-threatening injuries.  There are usually patient representatives or advocates assigned to care for the basic needs of accompanying family members.  In this article, Rev. Washburn presents the concept of a multi-disciplinary team approach to care for victims of sexual assault during the critical incident stage in the emergency room, which consists of the sexual assault nurse (SANE) examiner, a professional chaplain, and a specially-trained  patient advocate.

Washburn (2003) gives a thoughtful examination of the many rape myths that society has thrust upon women since the dawn of recorded history.  She makes the argument that “the tendency of society is to equate and confuse sexual activity with sexual violence.  These attitudes are communicated and embellished through our methods of socialization, our belief systems, and our behaviors”(p.236).  Throughout time, from the medieval to the women’s movements of the 20th century up until now, sexually assaulted women have had to prove their innocence of any provocation of the crime enacted upon them.  Washburn (2003) lists several societal myths concerning sexual assault; (1) the victim in some way asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted; (2) sexual assault is an act of impulse; (3) sexual assault offenders are strangers or “perverts”; (4) sexually assaulted individuals have significant visible injury to their body or genitalia; (5) the primary motive behind sexual assault is sex; (6) if a victim really wanted to prevent the sexual assault they could; (7), the best method of recovery is to put the event in the past and move on with life; and (8) it would not happen to me. 

The fact that these are MYTHS is evident of the faulty thinking that accompanies such beliefs.  Unfortunately, what society believes is what the victim also believes, which adds exponentially to the grief and shame experienced by persons who have been sexually assaulted.  The reality is that 71% of all sexual assaults are premeditated, acquaintances, family members or friends account for 50% of all reported sexual assaults, most persons assaulted show no physical injury, control is the primary motivation behind sexual assault – which is an act of violence; threat of bodily harm or force is used in 90% of all rapes.  Giving voice to the crime is a critical tool in healing from sexual assault.  Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, and it is not a consequence of poor judgement.

The mythology aids the rapist, giving him a safe haven from prosecution, as most know that even though laws are on the books to protect the victim, the ideology is so well ingrained in the individual that at every level of justice there exists the mindset that oppresses the victims into silent submission.  Washburn (2003) stress that the first encounter with the victim is crucial in preventing revictimization.  In her program, the chaplain is specially trained in crisis intervention counseling and critical incident stress debriefing and provides this service to the victim and their support system.  “The immediate emotional and spiritual needs of the patient are to experience safety, support, compassion, and understanding. . .relating to the patient as an individual whose life has been interrupted by sexual assault as opposed to a victim of sexual assault”(p. 238) establishes a foundation from which to build trust and hope.

The defusing process used with sexual assault patients is six-staged, based on critical incident debriefing: (1) introduction, (2) facts, (3) thought reaction, (4) emotional reaction, (5) reframing, and (6) teaching/reentry.  “The experience. . . is reframed in a way to realistically reflect the choices made by the perpetrator, the response of the survivor, and the interpretive lenses of society.  The hope of this process is to empower the survivor to accept the experience, not as something deserved, but as a crime against them”(Washburn, 2003, p. 239-240).

Upon patient discharge, the chaplain offers a defusing with the sexual assault team.  This technique is essential to decrease burnout with any team that deals with critical incidents on a frequent basis.  Washburn explains, “Through this type of crisis ministry, the chaplain becomes a companion to the staff, the survivor, and the support system of the survivor, as each struggle with questions of responsibility and meaning.  The chaplain provides a tangible reality to the belief that God is present and grace can be found even in the violation of sexual assault”(p. 241).

Reference

Washburn, P. (2003). Why me? Addressing the spiritual and emotional trauma of sexual assault . Topics in Emergency Medicine , 236-241.

Rcasa’s Prevention Saturday:Let’s Talk Prevention

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 30, 2010 at 9:00 am

Let’s Talk Prevention! 

Tanya Singleton, BSN, MPH, RNC, LCCE – Counseling Intern

At RCASA, I am an intern in counseling.  In my other life, prevention is my passion.  The science of Public Health is all about prevention; it is more economical to prevent disease and malady than to treat it; unfortunately, in the United States, there is not enough emphasis on the ounce of prevention, as the health care debate rages on about the millions required to be spent on the pounds of cure.  This scholarly review will discuss information compiled by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance in its “Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence”.  For point of reference, sexual violence will be referred to as SV, and domestic violence will be IPV (intimate partner violence) for the body of this document.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized SV as a public health threat at the beginning of the decade ( although this threat has existed since the beginning of recorded history, namely, the rape of Dinah, the sister of Joseph, of biblical note in the book of Genesis – which lead to a massacre of biblical proportions. . .no pun intended!).  The public health approach to primary prevention uses social change work as the foundation; Lee, et al (2007) observe that a combination of “the socio-political analysis of the feminist. . .movement and the systematic approach to promoting healthy behaviors central to public health theory” provide the best SV/IPV prevention strategies.

Positive changes need to address healthy relationships and healthy sexuality.  By definition, a healthy relationship is “a connection between people that increases well-being, is mutually enjoyable, and enhances or maintains each individual’s positive self-concept.”  Healthy sexuality is “the capacity to understand, enjoy, and control one’s own sexual and reproductive behavior in a voluntary and responsible manner that enriches individuals and their social lives.  Sexuality is an integral part of the human experience with physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions” (Ford Foundation, 2006).

The Social Ecological Model recognizes four strategic levels as targets for change; individual, relationship, community, and societal.  Individual factors relate to a person’s knowledge, behavior, attitudes, history, demographics, or biology.  Relationship factors address the influence of family, peers, and intimate partners.  Community factors are those that relate to norms, customs, and one’s experiences with school, faith community, work, and civic organizations.  Societal level addresses causes such as social injustice, oppression, public policy, and organized belief systems.

The Alliance has developed nine guidelines for implementing SV/IPV prevention strategies:

  1.  Develop prevention strategies that promote protective factors.
  2. Develop prevention strategies that strive to be comprehensive.
  3. Develop prevention strategies that are concentrated, and can be sustained and expanded over time.
    1. Develop prevention strategies that use varied teaching methods to address multiple learning

        processes.

  1. Develop prevention programs based on purposeful, logical rationale.
  2. Develop prevention strategies that are developmentally appropriate.
  3. Develop prevention strategies in collaboration with a representative cross-section of community

        members to incorporate diverse cultural beliefs, practices, and community norms.

  1.  Develop prevention strategies that include a systematic method to determine program effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement.
  2. Develop prevention strategies as an integral part of the agency mission to end sexual violence/intimate partner violence. (Alliance,2009)

 

This blog will periodically discuss each one in detail in subsequent issues.  Consider which strategies YOU can implement in your corner of the world!

References

Lee, D., Guy, L., Perry, B., Sniffen, C., Alamo Mixson, S. (2007) Sexual Violence Prevention.  The Prevention Researcher, 14 (2), pp. 15-20.

Sexuality and Social Change: Making the Connection Strategies for Action and Investment (2006).  Ford Foundation: New York, NY.

Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2009) Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence. Richmond, VA: Author.

RCASA’s Friday Facts: Stalking Fact Sheet

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 29, 2010 at 9:00 am

While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Stalking Victimization

  • 3.4 million people ovr the age of 18 are stalked each year in the United States.
  • 3 in 4 stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.
  • 30% of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
  • 10% of stalking victims are stalked by a stranger.
  • Persons aged 18-24 years experience the highest rate of stalking.
  • 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
  • 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
  • 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology (such as email or instant messaging).
  • 10% of victims report being monitored with global postioning systems (GPS), and 8% report being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices.

[Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC:BJS, 2009).]

Impact of Stalking on Victims

  • 46% of stalking victims fear not knowing what will happen next. [Baum et al., (2009). “Stalking in the United States.” BJS.]
  • 29% of stalking victims fear the stalking will neer stop. [Baum et al.]
  • 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from works as a result of their victimization and more than half lose 5 days of work or more. [Baum et al.]
  • 1 in 7 stalking victims move as result of their victimization. [Baum et al.]
  • The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves being followed or having one’s property destroyed. [Eric Blauuw et al., “The Toll of Stalking,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, no.1 (2002):50-63.]

RECON Study of Stalkers

  • 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims aat least once a week, many daily, using more than one method.
  • 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach.
  • Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases.
  • Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before.
  • Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly.

[Kris Mohandie et al., “The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Based upon a Large Sample of North American Stalkers,” Journal of Forensic Sciences, 51, no.1 (2006).]

Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide

  • 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by thier intimate partner.
  • 67% had been physically abused by their intimate partner.
  • 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
  • 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused.
  • 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers.

[Judith McFarlane et al., “Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide,” Homicide Studies 3, no.4 (1999).]

Stalking Laws

  • Stalking is a crime under the laws of 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government.
  • Less than 1/3 of states classify stalking as a felony upon the first offense.
  • More than 1/2 of the states classify stalking as a felony upon second or subsequent offense or when the crime involves aggrevating factors.
  • Aggravating factors may include: possession of a deadly weapon, violation of a court order or condition of probation/parole, victim under 16 years, or same victim as prior occassions.

For a compilation of state, tribal, and federal laws visit www.ncvc.org/src.

The Stalking Resource Center (SRC) works to raise national awareness of stalking and to encourage the development and implementation of multidisciplinary responses to stalking in local communities across the country. The SRC provides training, technical assistance, and resource material for professionals working with and responding to stalking victims so that communities are more aware of and better equipped to respond to the crime of stalking.

[The Stalking Resource Center, the Office on Violence against Women, “Stalking fact sheet”, June 2009.]

RCASA’s Art Therapy Thursday: Creative Spirit by Danica A. Henrich

In Art therapy, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 28, 2010 at 9:00 am

Humans have an intrinsic desire to create, to use visual images to communicate thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of the world. Art and Creativity are a part of all of us and is something we are all born with. If you look back on history you can see how art is interwoven through culture and how humans have used art in a variety of contexts.

The caveman used images to tell stories, to communicate, and to keep record of life. Art later began to reflect an individual’s spirituality and beliefs about a higher power. Creation wasn’t limited to wall paintings and sculpture, but was also seen in architecture and practical items such as pottery. Artists and Artisans continued to push the envelope, exploring their world and the materials available to them in order to invent, inspire change, and create items or images that reflected how they perceived the world. Claude Monet once said, “It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

As the world and culture changed, appropriately, so did artists and the work they produced. Art became increasingly expressive and not only reflected the external world of the artist but the internal world as well. “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures,” Henry Ward Beecher.

 Almost every day I hear someone say that they are not creative or that they are not artistic in anyway, and every time I have to disagree. Creativity is in us all! For some of us ability or passion are more overt and for others talent is hidden and the desire for creation is unexplored out of fear. I believe that everyone should nurture their creative spirit, embrace it, and show it to the world.

-Danica A. Henrich,  Art Therapist

RCASA’s Outreach Wednesday: Lessons from the Recognizing & Responding to Stalking Conference

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

The staff at RCASA returned from this conference full of new knowledge and ready to implement all they had learned. The conference had break out session on everything from Teens and Stalking to Threat Assessment/Safety Planning.  2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once a week and 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach. Given this data our staff found the session about keeping an incident log particularly useful information to share.

Documentation of stalking behaviors and incidents is particulary important when trying to get a restraining order, during divorce proceeding or child custody cases, and for criminal prosecution. The incident log should have the following information; date, time, description of incident, location of incident, witness info; name, address, phone number, police report number, and officer name and badge number.  It is pertinent to record each incident with as much detail as possible. Include all incidents no matter how insignificant they may seem; phone calls, letters, emails, texts, acts of vandalism, and any threats communicated through a third party.  It’s also incredibly useful to have a photograph of the stalker and copies of all restraining orders, police reports, and any other relevant documentation kept with the incident log.  Keep in mind that this information  may be used in court should the case be prosecuted and the offender could see it so don’t include anything you don’t want the offender to see. It’s important to keep this information in a safe place where it will not be discovered by the offender. Let a close friend or family member know where it is so they can retrieve it for you if need be.

While this may all seem overwhelming and emotionally draining it’s important to remember that there are advocates in the community to help you with putting your incident log together and maintaining clear and pertinent information as well as offering support and assistance with safety planning.

For more information contact our office at 540.371.1666 or the Stalking Resource Center at www.ncvc.org.

RCASA’s Tuesday’s with Traci: Owning Our Energy

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 26, 2010 at 10:45 am

Learn to keep your energy inside.

                                               – Women, Sex, and Addiction

For many reasons, we may have mastered the art of giving away our energy.  We may have learned it when we were young because the feelings we had were too overwhelming to feel, and we did not know how to process them. 

Much of our obsessing, our intense focus on others, is done to facilitate this “out-of-body” experience we call codependency.

We obsess, we babble, we become anxious. We try to control, caretake, and fuss over others. Our energy spills out of us on to whomever.

Our energy is our energy. Our feelings, thoughts, issues, love, sexuality; our mental, physical, spiritual, sexual, creative, and emotional energy is ours.

We can learn to have healthy boundaries– healthy parameters– around ourselves and our energy. We can learn to keep our energy within ourselves and deal with our issues.

If we are trying to escape from our body, if our energy is spilling out of us in unhealthy ways, we can ask ourselves what is going on, what is hurting us, what we are avoiding, what we need to face, what we need to deal with.

Then we can do that. We can come back home to live– in ourselves.

Victim Advocate Position – Caroline County, Virginia

In Advocacy, Outreach on January 26, 2010 at 9:01 am

Victim’s Advocate

Caroline County, VA

Caroline County is seeking a temporary part-time Violence Against Women Victim’s Advocate for its Victim Witness Program.

The successful candidate must possess the following: (1) a bachelor’s degree with major course work in criminal justice, social work, or a related human services field OR any equivalent combination of experience and training, (2) effective oral and written communication skills, (3) proven computer skills, including Microsoft Office software, and (4) good judgment, discretion, and initiative.

Job includes working with victims and witnesses through the criminal justice process, sending correspondence to victims, providing court advocacy for victims, making referrals to other agencies, maintaining records, and preparing reports.

This is a grant-funded position requiring 20 hours per week with a salary of $21,000.

To obtain an application, contact Cindy Gatewood at 804/633-8037 or at P.O. Box 432, Bowling Green, VA 22427, or visit the County’s web site at www.co.caroline.va.us.  A completed County application must be submitted to P.O. Box 432, Bowling Green, VA 22427, no later than February 5, 2010.  A background check is required.

Caroline County is an Equal Opportunity Employer

RCASA- Utilice la ley a su favor

In Advocacy, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

Utilice  la ley a su favor

Orden de Protección

Investigue cual es el programa mas cercano de servicios contra la violencia domestica,
quien le puede ayudar a conseguir una orden de protección civil o a iniciar una
denuncia penal contra el abusador.

• Pida ayuda para conseguir representación legal.
En la mayoría de los casos, la juez puede:
Ordenar al abusador permanecer alejado de usted y sus hijos.
Ordenar al abusador que salga de la casa. Dar a usted la custodia temporal de sus hijos y ordenar al abusador pagar pensión alimenticia temporal para sus hijos.

• Ordenar a la policía que esté presente en su casa mientras el abusador
remueve sus pertenencias.

• Dar a usted la posesión temporal del uso del carro, muebles y otras
pertenencias.

• Ordenar al abusador ir a un programa de intervención de abusadores.

• Ordenar que el abusador no llame a su lugar de trabajo.

• Ordenar que el abusador entregue su revolver o armas al policía.

• Si usted esta preocupada por alguno de los siguientes puntos, asegúrese de:
      a)Mostrar a la juez fotos de sus heridas o lesiones.
      b)Pedir que la juez ordene al abusador buscar y regresar a los niños en la
          estación de la polica o algún otro lugar, si usted no se siente segura si el
           abusador viene a buscarlos a su casa.

• Pedir que las visitas del abusador para sus hijos sean en horas específicas, de
manera que al leer su orden de protección la policía pueda determinar si el
abusador esta allí fuera de la hora permitida.

• Si el abusador ha causado daño o ha amenazado a sus hijos, pedir a la juez
que las visitas sean supervisadas. Piense quien puede hacer esto para usted.

• Conseguir una copia certificada de la orden de protección.

• Mantener la orden de protección con usted todo el tiempo.

PROCEDIMIENTO CRIMINAL

a)Muestre al fiscal su orden de protección.
b)Muestre al fiscal el record medico sobre las heridas o fotos de estas.
c)Diga al fiscal el nombre de cualquier persona que le este ayudando
(consejero de victimas o abogado).
d)Diga al fiscal si hay testigos de las heridas o del maltrato.
e)Pida al fiscal que le notifique antes de que se deje en libertad al
abusador.

PARA SU SEGURIDAD EN EL TRIBUNAL

• Tome asiento lo más lejos posible del abusador. Usted no tiene que tomar asiento
   ni mirar al abusador, tampoco con la familia o amistades del abusador que estén presentes.
• Traiga una amistad o familiar para que estén con usted hasta que se
  Oiga su caso.
• Diga al alguacil o al comisario que teme por su seguridad y que este pendiente de usted.
• Asegúrese de tener su orden de protección antes de irse del tribunal.
• Pida a la juez o al alguacil que mantengan al abusador en el lugar por un tiempo prudente, hasta que        usted tenga tiempo de irse.
• Si piensa que el abusador la está persiguiendo llame inmediatamente a la policía.
• Si usted viaja a otro Estado para trabajar o para escaparse del
Abusador, llévese su orden de protección, esta es válida en todos los Estados.

RCASA’s Sunday Article Review: Circumstances Surrounding Male Sexual Assault and Rape

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

This study done by David Light and Elizabeth Monk-Turner of Old Dominion University shows findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey.  Most of the studies available on male rape and sexual violence rely on small clinical samples. The authors hypothesized that the existing data available is incomplete and therefore skews societies view on male sexual assault and rape.  

Much of the research on male sexual assault and rape is based on small groups arising from clinical experience (Isley & Gehrenbeck-Shim, 1997, p. 160). These samples tend to come from genitor-urinary clinics, sexual assault and rape crisis centers, and other medical providers (Hillman, O’Mara, Taylor-Robinson, & Harris, 1990, 1991; Stermac, Del Bove & Addison, 2004; Stermac et al., 1996). The data from these studies consistently shows male sexual assault and rape to be very violent; causing physical injury, include penetration, and often include a weapon. The authors hyposthesize that this data offers an incomplete picture of male vicitimization since all participants in the studies were self selected because they sought medical assistance.

Method

The data used for this study were selected from the 1994-1996 Violence and Threats of Violence Against Women and Men in the United States Survey, NVAW.  Telephone surveys were obtained and completed from 8,000 women and 8,005 men, 18 years or older, residing in the U.S. The study utilized the male subsample of NVAW, including the 219 male respondents who disclosed their assault or rape. The respondents were asked about the presence or absence of circumstances surrounding the assault. These variables included; whether the respondents self-reported that physical injuries resulted from the attack, or did not; penetration resulted from the assualt, or not; a weapon was used in the assault, or not; alcohol was a reported factor in the assault, or not; Sought help after the attack, or not; reported to the police, or not.

80% of the respondents identified as White, 10% identified as African America, and 10% identified as other race backgrounds.

Findings

89% of respondents reported that they experienced no physical injury during the assault; 69% reported that penetration did not occur; 95% reported that a weapon was not involved; 16% reported that alcohol was involved; 29% sought help; and 12% reported to the police.

The researchers then took the 29% of men that sought help and compared their data to the study group as a whole. The results show that the men who sought help after the assault were the ones with physical injuries resulting from the assault, and where pentration had occured. The data did not show that a weapon was more likely used or alcohol more likely involved.

Discussion

Because only 29% of respondents sought help after the assault , the argument  is made that clinical sample data over-represents physical violence, penetration, weapon use, and alcohol involvement.

Although  the data is from a very small population of victims,  it does show that clinical study sample results are distorted and do not give an accurant represntation of male sexual assault and rape within the general population.

This data did not query respondents about age, sexual orientation, gender of attacker, and relationship of assailant. Having this information included would certainly lend a clearer understanding of male victimization.

Clearly, our understanding of male sexual assault and rape is far from comprehensive and in need of many more studies and male inclusive services.

RCASA’s Friday Facts:Stalking

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

Stalking refers to repeated harassing or threatening behavior by an individual, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).

Any unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can be considered stalking, but the actual legal definition of stalking varies from state to state according to each state’s laws.

According to the OVC’s brochure “Stalking Victimization,” anyone can be a stalker, just as anyone can be a stalking victim. The brochure points out:

Stalking is a crime that can touch anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or personal associations. Most stalkers are young to middle-aged men with above-average intelligence.

Unfortunately, there is no single psychological or behavioral profile for stalkers. Every stalker is different. This makes it virtually impossible to devise a single effective strategy that can be applied to every situation. It is vital that stalking victims immediately seek the advice of local victim specialists who can work with them to devise a safety plan for their unique situation and circumstances.

Some stalkers develop an obsession for another person with whom they have no personal relationship. When the victim does not respond as the stalker hopes, the stalker may attempt to force the victim to comply by use of threats and intimidation. When threats and intimidation fail, some stalkers turn to violence.

Stalking Can Become Violent

The most prevalent type of stalking case involves some previous personal or romantic relationship between the stalker and the victim. This includes domestic violence cases and relationships in which there is no history of violence. In these cases, stalkers try to control every aspect of their victims’ lives.

The victim becomes the stalker’s source of self-esteem, and the loss of the relationship becomes the stalker’s greatest fear. This dynamic makes a stalker dangerous. Stalking cases that emerge from domestic violence situations, however, are the most lethal type of stalking.

The stalker may attempt to renew the relationship by sending flowers, gifts, and love letters. When the victim spurns these unwelcome advances, the stalker often turns to intimidation. Attempts at intimidation typically begin in the form of an unjustified and inappropriate intrusion into the victim’s life.

The intrusions become more frequent over time. This harassing behavior often escalates to direct or indirect threats. Unfortunately, cases that reach this level of seriousness often end in violence.

Stalking/criminal harassment can include a number of different behaviours intended to control and frighten the person being stalked. Most commonly, this can involve:

  • repeated telephone calls, letters or emails
  • sending unwanted gifts (flowers, candy, etc)
  • showing up uninvited at work or home
  • stealing mail
  • following, watching, tracking
  • threatening harm to the person being stalked, her family, friends, pets
  • harassing her employer, colleagues or family
  • vandalizing her car or home
  • harming pets
  • assault (physical, sexual, emotional)
  • kidnapping, holding hostage

What To Do If You Are Being Stalked

Phone or visit your local police immediately no matter how trivial the harassment may seem. This will enable them to record your complaint, log, monitor and build a profile of the offender.

To assist prosecution:

  1. Keep a record of all events, including telephone calls, noting as much detail as possible including time and date of incidents.
  2. Try to get photographic or video evidence of your stalker’s actions.
  3. Do not throw away parcels or letters.
  4. The police advise that you should read any mail you receive in case it contains threats or indecent and offensive language.

Get to know your neighbours so that they can keep a record of sightings and notify you of anything they may see or notice.

Inform work colleagues about the harassment so they will be able to support and protect you (ie prevent calls from reaching you and prevent your stalker from gaining access).

Try to alter any daily routines, if possible ask friends to accompany you and always try to let someone know what your plans are and when they change.

Although it may be hard, try to show no emotion towards the stalker, do not confront them and do not agree to meet them. If you do come into contact, aim to get away and ideally into a busy public place.

Consider buying a personal alarm, and always carry your mobile phone.

Consider improving home security measures by asking your local Crime Prevention Officer to look around your property and offer free advice.

If you receive malicious or threatening calls, try to keep calm and show no emotion. Do not answer the phone with anything more than “Hello?”

If the stalker continues to ring, answer the phone but place the handset to one side for a few minutes and walk away then replace the handset – you do not have to listen to what the caller has to say.

If you ever feel in imminent danger do not hesitate to call 911.

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