Stalking – Know It. Name It. Stop It. by Alina Lopez
Some of us may have heard or even said something in the likes of “I totally Facebook stalked him/her!” or “We should totally stalk him/her.” Using the term in such content lessens the seriousness of this act, but the truth of the matter is that stalking shouldn’t be taken so lightly as this is a serious issue that affects more than 1 in 6 women and more than 1 in 17 men.
So, what is the legal term for stalking? Florida statute states “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person. Harassing behaviors may include vandalism, annoying or threatening phone calls, following or other violations of protective orders, sending unwanted letters, leaving gifts, showing up at workplace, home, or school, or attempting to obtain information about you from others.” It is a pattern and not a single incident event.
There are different types of stalking and can be classified as Simple Obsessional, Love Obsessional, and Erotomanic. Simple Obsessional is the most common in which the stalking begins after the relationship has gone bad or ended. Love Obsessional is where the stalker is a stranger to the victim but is nonetheless obsessed. We see this type mostly with celebrity or public figures. In Erotomanic stalking, the stalker is often female and falsely believes that the victim is in love with her, but for some external influence, they would be together. In this situation, those close to the victim, such as a spouse or lover, who is perceived as being in the way, may be the most at risk.
While every case is different, people who stalk can be very dangerous, even threatening, attacking, and killing their victims. How to respond to a stalker can be a struggle. Some would hope that being nice to their stalker or telling themselves it isn’t that bad may help the behavior stop, but it isn’t as easy as that most of the time. Victims should feel empowered to take steps in keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.
Some general tips for victims according to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center are:
- Trust your instincts. Victims of stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker’s behavior, but stalking poses a real threat of harm.
- Keep a record of each contact with the stalker.
- Save as much evidence as possible like emails, texts, and postings on social media.
- Call the police if you feel you’re in immediate danger.
Miami Dade Police Department has a Domestic Crimes Investigations Unit that investigates all activities related to domestic crimes including stalking situations. A judge can order a temporary injunction, or restraining order, that is valid for up to 15 days. Once in effect, a court hearing will be scheduled before the judge to determine if a permanent injunction should be entered against the person committing the acts of violence. A permanent injunction is indefinitely active or until dissolved by the court.
To contact our office, call 305-470-1670 or visit our website at www.citizenscrimewatch.org.
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and be safe!
Written by: Alina Lopez