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.