Most people are familiar with violence against women, which includes sexual assault, rape, human trafficking, and murder. Femicide is the term given to violent acts against women, primarily murder, due to gender. Other harmful actions taken against women include sexual harassment in the workplace and stalking.
What is Stalking?
According to the National Institute of Justice, stalking is defined as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.” This could include harassing phone calls, following a person to their work and home, finding out personal private information about someone and even getting passwords and reading their social media pages. Stalking is treated differently in different legal jurisdictions and may have different legal definitions in different states.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), more than six million people are stalked annually, and that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. Stalking can escalate to murder, as Casper, Wyoming resident Vicki Kadlick will talk about during an upcoming program at Casper College next week. Her sister was stalked and killed by a neighbor. According to the NCVC, most victims are stalked by someone they know: 66% of women and 41% of male stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner. The NCVC also reports that 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by their intimate partner.
Other alarming statistics include:
• 67% had been physically abused by their intimate partner.
• 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
• 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused.
• 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers.
Stalking is a big deal!
Hear From Those Who Know
On Thursday, February 16, Casper College presents “Awkward? Jerk-Wad? Or Stalker? When Creepy Becomes Criminal, and How to Protect Yourself,” a program about stalking, how to recognize it, and what to do. Vicki Kadlick’s sister, who lived in Colorado, was killed by a stalker; she will share her story. Additionally, Lorrie Anderson and Taylor Courtney with the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department will discuss the case of a young mother and her children who had to be relocated to another state because of a stalker; they will also discuss how to protect yourself. The program will be presented from 5:30 to 7 pm at the Union/University Building, T-Bird Nest. Learn more by calling 307-268-2267 or visit www.caspercollege.edu/wellness-center.
Stalking is Illegal and Punishable
Stalking is a crime throughout the United States. In Wyoming, a person can be charged with a misdemeanor or with a felony, depending on circumstances. Stalking isn’t just personal interactions, but in some states also includes emails, texts, and social media contacts. A proposed bill in this session of the Wyoming Legislature didn’t make it out of committee despite testimonies from people affected by stalking, including Kadlick.
What to Do?
There are things you can do to protect yourself if you are being stalked, including filing a restraining order with law enforcement. The Stalking Resource Center makes several suggestions, including the creation of a Safety Plan. Working with others, such as domestic violence victim advocates and law enforcement officers, is a top suggestion, as these professionals can help determine which options will best enhance your safety. For more information on stalking safety, visit https://victimsofcrime.org/.
Also, plan to attend the program at Casper College next week, Thursday, Feb. 16, 5:30 pm, at the Union/University Building to learn more about the crime of stalking, hear personal stories, and learn how to keep yourself safe.