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Archive for January, 2010

Worth reading: Stalking Awareness Month Op-Ed

Posted by Iahmed on January 25, 2010

Debi Cain, executive director of  DHS’ Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, wrote this op-ed for January as we recognize Stalking Awareness Month.

By Debi Cain 

Stalking – when someone’s repeated harassment makes another person feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or threatened – may make for a good Law & Order episode. But unfortunately, stalking is all too common in real life and among everyday people. 

One in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice. Most victims know their stalker: 77 percent of women and 64 percent of men. And many victims have previously been in an intimate relationship with the person stalking them.

 Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm proclaimed January 2010 Stalking Awareness Month in Michigan. Michigan was actually among the first states in the nation to observe a statewide Stalking Awareness Month in 2005.

Domestic and sexual violence service providers throughout the state will recognize this important month by honoring stalking victims and raising awareness in their local communities.

Stalking is a dangerous crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year. This year’s Stalking Awareness Month theme – “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.” – calls us to fight stalking by learning more about it.

But what, exactly, is stalking? Stalking can take many forms, such as:

  • Following or appearing within the sight of the targeted victim.
  • Approaching or confronting the targeted victim in a public or private place.
  • Appearing at the targeted victim’s workplace, school or home.
  • Entering or remaining on the targeted victim’s property.
  • Contacting the targeted victim by telephone.
  • Sending mail or electronic mail to the targeted victim.
  • Using cell phones, computers or surveillance equipment to keep tabs on the targeted victim.

Once a victim has identified this behavior, what’s the best defense? It’s best to make a report to local law enforcement to set in motion the necessary documentation for a stalking personal protection order. Victims can also contact their local domestic violence program for more information and help with this process. Domestic violence staff can offer advocacy, counseling and, if necessary, shelter services.

Stalking Awareness Month provides a unique opportunity for all of us to learn more about stalking and seek out information about how to support a friend or loved one who may be a stalking victim. 

 It also offers an excellent opportunity for Michigan citizens to show support for the numerous organizations and individuals that provide advocacy efforts, services and assistance to stalking victims. 

I encourage you to find out more. The Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board (MDVPTB) funds agencies that provide these services statewide. To find a program in your area, visit www.michigan.gov/domesticviolence.

Members of the legislatively enacted MDVPTB are appointed by the governor and are charged with leading statewide efforts to eliminate domestic and sexual violence in the state. The board is administratively housed within the Michigan Department of Human Services. 

For more information about stalking, you may also contact your local domestic violence program, visit the Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence Web site at http://www.resourcecenter.info or the National Stalking Resource Center at www.ncvc.org/src.

Stalking can happen to anyone and stalkers can be hard to stop. The more you know about stalking, the more you can do to stop it.

Debi Cain is executive director of the Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board.

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