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“Know it. Name it. Stop it.” Stalking Awareness Month in MA

GRAPHIC: Domestic violence prevention groups across the country are spreading the word about National Stalking Awareness Month.
GRAPHIC: Domestic violence prevention groups across the country are spreading the word about National Stalking Awareness Month.
January 21, 2013

BOSTON - January is Stalking Awareness Month in Massachusetts, and a national campaign is underway to "Know it. Name it. Stop it." State law lists stalking as a crime, but Caroline Fleming, executive director of the Custer Network Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault, says it isn't an easy one to identify or prosecute because it's a series of events that instill fear. They might be repeated phone calls or texts, vandalism, animal abuse, unwanted gifts, or "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."

In Massachusetts, the penalty for stalking is up to five years in state prison.

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 you know, 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 stalking victims at some point in their lives, and that stalking is linked to missed work time, anxiety and depression in victims.

Statistics are at StalkingAwarenessMonth.org.

Massachusetts' Stalking Law is ALM GL ch. 265, § 43. Stalking. (2010)

More information is at Crime.About.com.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA