TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — Travis County, in conjunction with the national campaign, has declared January Stalking Prevention Month.
The county is doing so in recognition of the impact that stalking has on the health and well-being of the community as well as in recognition of efforts of the many victim service providers, police officers, prosecutors, national and community organizations and private sector supporters for their efforts in promoting awareness about stalking.
In recent years, stalking has become more pronounced. In most cases, it involves an unwanted romantic interest, such as an estranged husband or boyfriend. Stalking, however, may involve persons who are barely, if at all, acquainted as well as people who are known to each other.
Many stalkers use technology — such as cell phones, global positioning systems (GPS), cameras, and spyware — to monitor and track their victims.
What Is Stalking?
Stalking is the act of a person who, on more than one occasion, following, pursuing or harassing another.
- 7.5 million people were stalked in one year in the United States, and the majority of victims are stalked by someone they know
- 3 in 4 women killed by an intimate partner had been stalked by that intimate partner
Signs of Stalking (National Center for Victims of Crime)
- Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups
- Follow you and show up wherever you are
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts or emails
- Damage your home, car or other property
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school or work
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets
- Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors or co-workers
- Other actions that control, track or frighten you
What to do if you feel you’re being stalked
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are. Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, refer you to other services, and weigh options such as seeking a protection order.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you.
- Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
- Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw.
- Contact the police. Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
- Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
There's an app for that
SafeTrek is an app that allows users to passively connect to police if they find themselves in an unsafe situation. By holding down a safe button, users can connect to police. If a situation arises, users simply release the button, triggering a 911 alert. If nothing happens, users can type in their pin and cancel the alert.