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3.4 Million Stalker Victims in a Year: DOJ Report Shows Gravity of Stalking in the US

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By Admin on January 13, 2009 1:42 PM

Today the Department of Justice released a study reporting that 3.4 million Americans fell victim to stalkers in a one year span from 2005 to 2006. The report sheds light on the great number of stalking victims, characteristics of how they were stalked, and whether involvement of law enforcement proved effective.

Key findings in the report included:

  • About half of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week;
  • 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more;
  • Women were at far greater risk than men for stalking victimization; however, women and men were equally likely to experience harassment;
  • Nearly 75% of stalking victims knew the offender in some capacity;
  • Male and female stalking victims were equally likely to report it to the police;
  • Divorced or separated individuals were at highest risk of being stalked;
  • Approximately 25% of stalking victims reported some type of cyberstalking (83% of which reported stalking via e-mail, and 35% stalking via instant messaging); and
  • More than half of stalking victims lost 5 or more days of work for fear of safety or to deal with legal attempts to remedy the situation.

Interstate stalking is covered by federal law. As noted by the DOJ report, however, stalking laws across the states vary greatly. Though all 50 states have enacted anti-stalking laws, they often define stalking differently. States differ on the kind and quantity of victim fear or emotional distress required, as well as the required intent of the stalker. Some state laws specify that the victim must have been frightened by the stalking, while others require only that the stalking behavior would have caused fear in a reasonable person. Some state require prosecutors to prove fear of death or serious bodily harm. Others require only that prosecutors prove that the victim suffered emotional distress. Here are some resources to help you find the stalking laws in your state