Thursday, June 12, 2008

Every Breath You Take . . .

Those words open that old Police song. Creepy in the way it romanticizes stalking. I've been doing some reading on stalking, especially in the year after Rebecca Griego's murder by her stalker ex-boyfriend on the University of Washington campus. The UW has taken some administrative steps to improve it's response to this sort of incident. I went to one of the trainings, and found about twenty other UW personnel in a 300+ person lecture hall.

One of the articles I found online illustrates the use of high-tech equipment for a prime stalker activity -- surveillance. Stalkers often not only watch their targets, they let that target know that they know where they've been. Maybe even who they talked to and what they said. Other online resources can be found at the National Center for Victims of Crime's Stalking Resource Center, the National Institute of Justice, and the Stalking Victims' Sanctuary.

All this information is great, but only if people read it and take it seriously. In the first paragraph I noted that a training about violence on campus was attended by only a handful of people. The National Institute of Justice website lists obstacles to prosecuting stalking as a crime (including law enforcement not recognizing stalking behavior).

Talking about the police (rather than The Police), YOU are the only person responsible for your safety. Even though stalking is a criminal offense, it is more apparent to the justice system in hindsight.

Three suggestions gleaned from looking over these resources:
  1. Trust your instincts,
  2. Ask other people for help, including letting others know you're being stalked, and
  3. Recognize and believe that you are not responsible for the stalker's actions.

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