he month of January is National Stalking Awareness Month. When we talk about sexual and gender-based violence, or SGBV, the conversation is often centered on domestic violence, sexual assault and violence against women. However, SGBV entails more than that. Stalking is one of many ways that perpetrators engage in violence, and it is a clear violation of human rights.
Stalking is a very real and serious issue in the United States. According to the Stalking Resource Center and the National Center for Victims of Crime:
- 7.5 million people are stalked every year in the United States.
- 89 percent of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
- 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method.
- About half of all victims of stalking indicated that they were stalked before the age of 25.
- About 14 percent of female victims and 16 percent of male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17.
The legal definition of stalking depends on jurisdiction, but it is generally defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Unfortunately, because stalking is underreported and most often involves a person the target knows, it is not always taken as seriously as it should be by those affected and can sometimes lead to life-threatening situations.
The We Will Speak Out U.S. coalition, which consists of 20 member organizations, is one of the many groups speaking out and raising awareness about the many forms of SGBV that exist, including stalking. As a diverse coalition of faith organizations driven by this same mission, it is critical that we use our voices to break the silence, and mirror our pledge to end SGBV with our actions in our faith communities and beyond. Stalking happens everywhere and to anyone, so as people of faith we need to speak out about this issue. As a coalition we view stalking and other forms of intimidation as serious contributors to the prevalence of SGBV, and we will continue to speak out and fight for the protection of the millions of people that are affected.
Take the quiz to see how much you really know about stalking: Stalking Quiz
To access resources and learn more about stalking, please visit www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org.