by Lizzy Duffy
Emphasizing greater awareness of the increasing problem of stalking, Advocates Against Family Violence and the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence are offering classes and webinars on the subject throughout the month of January.
“Stalking is a crime, and we need more awareness,” said Kim Ivacek, executive director of AAFV. “Statistics are far greater [than what is documented] because it’s not being reported.”
2012's theme “Stalking: Know it. Name it. Stop it” encourages communities to recognize signs of stalking and use their knowledge to bring perpetrators to justice. Stalking is a crime in every state, and the National Center for Victims of Crime reported that 3.4 million people are subject to stalking every year. It is a fairly new crime, having only been recognized as such for the past 15 years.
“There’s an effort to get more awareness out, so people know where they can get help and keep it from happening,” said Jennifer Landhuis, Idaho Coalition program manager. “We also need to know how we as a community can help.”
According to AAFV, many victims don’t always understand when they should file a case with authorities because they don’t always know the signs. Stalking includes assault, threats, vandalism, burglary, animal abuse or unwanted cards, calls, gifts, visits, etc. NCVC reported that one in four stalkers use technology to track victims' activities. However, actions aside, stalkers do not fit a standard psychological profile, making it sometimes difficult to build a case for prosecution.
“So many behaviors don’t appear criminal until you put them together over a period of time,” Ivacek said.
AAFV regularly hosts a Civil Protection Order Orientation class, Women’s Healthy Relationships Class and a Safety Planning Class throughout the year, which cover the topic of stalking. Idaho Coalition will feature a webinar series on the main points of Stalking Awareness Month, which will occur every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. from Jan. 10 to Jan. 24.
“We have so much information and it’s difficult to reach all of Idaho in person,” Landhuis said.
To register for the series, go to surveymonkey.com/s/stalkingwebinar. Prior to the webinar, participants will receive an email to access the presentation online and be provided a toll-free number for the audio component.