Each year, an estimated 3.4 million people are victims of stalking in the United States, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report. That amounts to around 1.4% of the total population. In 75% of cases, the victims know the stalker in some way. Only in 10% of cases is the stalker a stranger.
Being bombarded with unwanted calls and emails is more than annoying, it’s scary. Being followed home from work is terrifying. Being physically threatened is horrible. Yet, only 8% of stalking reports to police end up with arrests. Additionally, 36% of stalkers were reported to have had some previous interaction with law enforcement.
Despite the poor arrest rates, there are many laws on the books against stalking. In Georgia, actual threat of bodily harm is not required for a stalking conviction. The stalking only needs to cause “emotional distress” by placing the victim in a position where they have a reasonable reason to fear for their safety. A first offense of stalking is only a misdemeanor, but a second or subsequent offense is a felony that can result in 1-10 years in prison.
The effects of stalking are far reaching. One in seven stalking victims relocates as a result of their experience. Also, 17.3% of victims changed their telephone number. Stalkers physically attack their victims 21% of the time. Additionally, 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers.
The most effective way to bar a stalker is through a restraining order. If a person violates a restraining order, then it automatically qualifies as “aggravated stalking” in Georgia and is a felony. Continued contact with the police and friends also helps. While the police are usually reluctant to arrest on the first call, persistent instances become more compelling. Make sure to document everything, from email to phone calls. The more proof you have, the safer you will be.
Survivors Inc. Stalking Facts: http://www.survivorsservices.org/StalkingStatistics.html
Stalking Resource Center Stalking Facts: http://www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_statistics195
Bureau of Justice Statistics Stalking Victimization in the U.S.: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/svus.pdf
Stalking Resource Center Georgia Stalking Law: http://www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_Georgia710