Study: 1 in 3 Alaska women experience stalking
As part of a national trend to raise awareness about the signs before it gets too serious -- January is National Stalking Awareness month. Alaska is one of the few states that has collected data on the topic.
It's a crime that can be hard to spot when it starts.
Anna Ancheta, a student at UAA says she's had several friends who've experienced stalking.
"People that maybe they didn't want to be in a romantic relationship with that wouldn't take no for an answer," Ancheta explained.
When someone doesn't take "no" for an answer-- whether it's starting or ending a relationship, it can turn in to stalking.
"She would get home from work, she would look behind her and see this stalker try to like hide and not be seen, but she knew that they were there," said fellow UAA student Ashley Hancock, as she described the experience of one of her friends.
According to a study by the UAA Justice Center, one in three Alaska women has experienced stalking in their lifetime.
"It’s a crime that people don’t necessarily recognize and when they do, they don’t necessarily report it to law enforcement," said Dr. Andre Rosay, who authored the report as part of the 2015 Alaska Victimization Study. "This is the first time we were able to estimate the prevalence of stalking in the state of Alaska."
The Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA) commissioned the study in order to track trends and determine where to focus awareness efforts and funding.
"Many people do not really see stalking as that serious or don’t really even understand the concept of a precursor to more serious violence down the road," said Diane Casto, executive director of CDVSA.
"It can create tremendous fear, and that fear and that inability to even want to go out of the house-- to answer your phone-- to engage in the workplace-- to go out with friends. I mean, that kind of fear, is crippling," Casto added.
According to Rosay's study, some of the signs of stalking include:
- Watching or following from a distance
- Approaching someone at home, work, school
- Leaving strange or threatening items
- Intruding into a home or car
- Unwanted voice or text messages
- Unwanted phone calls
- Unwanted emails or messages
- Unwanted cards, flowers or gifts
"By statute, if someone experiences repeated, non-consensual contacts and they experience fear as a result of those contacts, that is a crime," said Rosay.
It's a crime that can quickly escalate.
"Unwanted visits at her dorm building, and she's had to get the campus security involved," Ancheta said in her friend's case.
"Threatening to kidnap her kid, threatening to hurt her. Threatening all these things. It was pretty bad," said Hancock of her friend's experience.
The stalking was so bad that in this case, Hancock says her friend had to move out of state.
"It still kind of haunts us to this day, it's a big deal," Handcock said.
It's just one of many cases in which stalking can have serious consequences.
Rosay only included women in the stalking survey. Casto says that choice was made based on funding. The council hopes to survey men sometime soon.
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