January is National Stalking Awareness Month. The definition of stalking: It involves intentional and repeated behaviors that place an individual in reasonable fear for his or her safety. Stalking is a course of conduct used to maintain contact with or exercise power and control over another individual. Stalking is serious and often turns violent.
Victims need their fears to be taken seriously by law enforcement and the judicial system. Often the stalker makes claims of an ongoing relationship with the victim or that the victim seeks the stalker’s attention. This can cause a failure by law enforcement and the judicial system to protect the victim and loved ones.
Victims become extremely frustrated as the stalker repeatedly stalks, yet is given many chances to change his or her behavior, which empowers them to continue. When the stalker is sent to prison, the victim again is let down to discover there is no minimum required sentence for the crime of stalking.
Many stalking victims have been stalked for five years or longer. When a stalker is incarcerated, the victim and loved ones need time to heal from the stress of repeated victimization. Drug offenses have minimum required sentences; victim-based offenses also should have minimum required sentences.
As a stalking victim, I challenge the judicial system and our legislators to learn more about the issues of stalking, sociopathic/psychopathic behavior and mental illness.