“If more people learn to recognize stalking, we have a better chance to protect victims and prevent tragedies,” said Project Coordinator Katy Griffith of the Edmonds Community College Healthy Relationships Team (HEART).
HEART, which is funded by a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW/DOJ), will lead discussions on stalking awareness from 3-4 p.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Lynnwood Hall, room 211.
HEART hopes to promote awareness and public education about stalking during the annual observance. The event is free and open to all Edmonds CC students and employees, and community members.
According to an Edmonds CC announcement, stalking is a crime, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact. In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims, and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships.
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. One in four victims reports that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices, or hidden cameras, to track the victim’s daily activities.
“Communities that understand stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime,” Griffith said.