Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another Post About Stalking

It seems like, lately, all we've been doing on this blog is arguing with people over whether stalking is funny and flattering or actually dangerous. Yesterday, the Augusta Chronicle printed a great article on stalking that links stalking behaviors to domestic violence and spells out exactly why stalking is cause for concern.

Stalking is intended to create fear through indirect contact, such as correspondence or surveillance, according to Georgia law.

The danger is its link to violence.

"Stalking, if unabated, will always lead to some type of violence," said Georgia Superior Court Judge Daniel Craig said [emphasis ours].

Judge Craig spent 16 years in prosecution, and he said the numbers of the Justice Department survey didn't surprise him. They seemed consistent with what he's seen in the Augusta area.

The Justice Department estimates that 30 percent of victims identify the offender as a current or former spouse or as someone they have dated or are dating. An estimated 9 percent of offenders are relatives of the victims, and 7.4 percent are friends or acquaintances.

One recent incident filed with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department involved stalking and property damage.

The victim stated in the incident report that a man she ended a relationship with has been following her to work and family members' homes. She said she thinks the suspect has also slashed four tires, busted the windshield and keyed her car, but there were no witnesses. She told deputies she thinks the problem is escalating.

Another woman found a GPS unit taped to the bottom of her car, according to a report in August.

"It happens much more frequently than you know," said Yolanda Bollinger of SafeHomes of Augusta, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

Stalking is often a component in domestic violence cases, she said.
Stalking is considered by Georgia Law to be so threatening that there is a separate Protective Order that can be issued just for stalking. According to Women'sLaw.org, in Georgia someone commits stalking if s/he:
  • Follows you;

  • Places you under surveillance; or

  • Contacts you at a location without your consent for the purpose of harassing or intimidating you. (Contacting includes in person, by phone, text message, mail, broadcast, computer, any electronic device.)
In order to get a Stalking Protective Order, you need to show that you were in reasonable fear for yourself or a member of your immediate family due to this person’s pattern of behavior. It is not necessary for you to be physically injured. Call our hotline at 404-688-9436 for more information about Stalking Protective Orders in metro-Atlanta, or 1-800-799-SAFE for national information. You can also visit the National Stalking Resource Center.

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