January is National Stalking Awareness Month, as proclaimed by President Barack Obama.
According to the White House Council on Women and Girls, 3.4 million adults in the U.S. were stalked in just one year, with young women ages 18-24 being the most heavily targeted demographic.
Stalking is addressed in the Violence Against Women Act, but National Stalking Awareness Month is an effort to increase the public’s understanding of the crime in order to prevent future cases. As White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal writes:
Despite its prevalence, stalking is little understood by many people, who may think only celebrities are stalked or that stalking isn’t harmful. On the contrary, stalking is a dangerous crime that takes a profound toll on its victims, who are often afraid for their safety and try repeatedly to escape their stalkers. Stalking can happen to anyone and most victims know their stalkers.
The current legislation links stalking to domestic violence and sexual assault, as 76% of female intimate partner homicide victims had been stalked by their intimate partners. Susan Carbon, director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), commented on the federal efforts to make stalking a greater public concern: “The motto to ‘KNOW IT, NAME IT, AND STOP IT’ captures the focus of January’s awareness campaign…Educating ourselves and each other is an important step to encouraging and supporting victims to report the crime and stop the abuse.”
More information about stalking and National Stalking Awareness Month can be found here.
Taking a definite step towards strong support of women’s issues, Vice President Joe Biden announced last week that Lynn Rosenthal has been appointed the new White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. The position will be an enormous help to women and women’s groups looking for change at the federal level on violence against women. The position is described in the White House press release:
In this new position, Ms. Rosenthal will serve as an advisor to the President and Vice President on domestic violence and sexual assault issues; be a liaison to the domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy community; coordinate with the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) on implementation of Violence Against Women Act programs; coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services on implementation of Family Violence Prevention Act services (including the National Domestic Violence Hotline); coordinate with the State Department and USAID on global domestic violence initiatives; and drive the development new initiatives and policy aimed at combating domestic violence and sexual assault with advocacy groups and members of Congress.
Most recently, Ms. Rosenthal served as Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Other past positions include six years as the Executive Director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Ms. Rosenthal has dedicated her life to helping the lives of battered women and children, and her work can only become more influential in her new position.
“Lynn Rosenthal has been a life-long advocate for women and she has been a real leader in developing effective policies to combat domestic violence,” said Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Engagement. “She will be a tremendous asset to the President, Vice President and the entire Administration as we continue the battle against domestic violence and sexual assault.”
We hope that Ms. Rosenthal will help the Obama Administration develop new policies and gain support for women who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault.