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Stalking Awareness Month: “Know it. Name it. Stop it”

GRAPHIC: The Custer Network Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault is spreading the word about National Stalking Awareness Month.
GRAPHIC: The Custer Network Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault is spreading the word about National Stalking Awareness Month.
January 23, 2013

BALTIMORE - January is Stalking Awareness Month in Maryland, where a campaign is under way to "Know it. Name it. Stop it."

State law lists stalking as a crime, but Caroline Fleming, who works with the Stalking Resource Center, says it's not an easy one to identify or prosecute because it's a series of events that instill fear. Those events could include repeated phone calls or texts, vandalism, animal abuse, unwanted gifts and "surprise" visits.

Fleming says education is important because stalking is a significant risk factor for future serious injury or death.

"There's just way too much of it going on, and a lot of times with domestic violence victims, their batterers stalk them after they get away."

Her organization has set up displays in schools, libraries and other public places to spread the word.

Fleming says the crime has become more complicated because of technological advances in computers, spyware, GPS devices and hidden cameras.

"It's becoming so much easier to follow people's movements through lots of different technologies, and they don't even maybe know that they're being watched."

The Stalking Resource Center reports that one in six women and one in 19 men have been a stalking victim at some point - and that stalking is linked to missed work time, anxiety and depression in victims.

Stalking statistics are online at StalkingAwarenessMonth.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD