Stalking Victims Lose More Than Sense of Safety
Byline: David Crary Associated Press
NEW YORK u By the tens of thousands, victims of stalking lose their jobs, flee their homes and fear for their safety, according to a new federal survey providing the most comprehensive data ever on a crime affecting an estimated 3.4 million Americans a year.
About 11 percent of the victims said they had been stalked for five or more years, and one in seven said the stalking compelled them to move out of their home, according to the report by the Justice DepartmentAEs Bureau of Justice Statistics. It covered a 12-month period in 2005-06.
The study was described as a groundbreaking effort to analyze the scope and varying
forms of stalking, which had not been featured in previous versions of the National Crime Victimization Survey.
Mary Lou Leary, a former federal prosecutor who is executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, remarked on the persistence of some of the stalking behavior depicted in the report.
"When you consider the impact that stalking has on a victimAEs life, five weeks is forever u five years is incredible," she said. "They often have to give up their current life, leave their jobs, their homes, establish a whole new identity."
The number of victims was up sharply from a more limited 1995-96 study commissioned by the Justice Department that estimated 1.4 million Americans a year were targeted by stalkers. Both surveys concluded that women were more than twice as likely to be victimized as men.
In the span between the two surveys, e-mail and text-messaging emerged as common tactics for stalkers.
"The prevalence of these electronic devices gives a stalker another tool in his tool kit, makes it easier to stalk and increases victimsAE fear," said Cindy Dyer, director of the federal Office on Violence Against Women. "It doesnAEt increase the number of stalking offenders, but it sure makes their job easier."
The Bureau of Justice Statistics defined stalking as a course of conduct, directed at a specific person on at least two separate occasions, that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The most commonly reported types of stalking were unwanted phone calls (66 percent), unsolicited letters or e-mail (31 percent), or having rumors spread about the victim (36 percent).
More than one-third of the victims reported being followed or spied upon; some said they were tracked by electronic monitoring, listening devices or video cameras. …