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Letters to the Editor

Month set aside to focus on the crime of stalking

January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year. This year’s theme – “Stalking: Know it. Name it. Stop it.” – challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it.

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Colombia, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact.

In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims, and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for homicide of women in abusive relationships.

Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population. Many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.

Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking isn’t a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, or a course of conduct directed at a specific person causing that person fear.

It takes many forms; assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse; unwanted cards, gifts, calls or visits. One in four victims reported stalkers use technology such as computers, GPS, or hidden cameras to track victims.

The YWCA of the Sauk Valley has trained professionals available to provide assistance and information to individuals and victims of stalking.

One course of action that may be a remedy for some is a Stalking No Contact Order. This is a civil remedy that requires and orders the offenders to stay away from the victims and third parties by order of the court.

Advocates at the YWCA of the Sauk Valley are available to assist with those orders and provide victims with the information and support they need to file this particular order through the court system.

Please call 815-626-7277 or 815-288-1011 for more information.

Note to readers – Stacey Hoffman-Rosalez is a counselor advocate and Lee County caseworker for the YWCA of the Sauk Valley Sexual Assault Program.

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