Lack of direct support services for stalking victims in 2012 petition created to promote awareness for public officials to take action

By Maria DiBari

January 19, 2012

January is National Stalking Awareness Month and unfortunately for many, there are no actual direct services for stalking victims in the US. The National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Stalking Resource Center provides referrals to victims of stalking, but that is all. These agencies function as training centers for other victim service providers and do not offer direct services to victims struggling with stalking and violence.

Although these agencies do not provide actual services to stalking victims, they are heavily funded through government grants and private donations to support salaries, meetings, conferences and much more. The number one need of all crime victims in the United States is direct victim services, the ability to walk into a place or dial a number and get the actual resource they need at the exact time they need it. This rarely happens for domestic violence victims, and almost never happens for victims of stalking. Although most domestic violence victims are stalked before their death, the US continues to funnel money into agencies that function as large referral centers.

And where are these victims directed? Victims are often referred to the domestic violence hotlines, then to domestic violence shelters, and then to other resources-and so forth. This is the cycle of violence that many stalking victims are familiar with; stalking incidents followed by endless referrals. It is a never ending maze, and many don’t make it to the end.

Survivors In Action, a national volunteer crime victims organization, reports that the number of stalking victims unable to obtain assistance is on the rise and many have no where to turn. Very often, victims have trouble reporting incidents due to the fact that stalking is considered the invisible crime and rarely are there any injuries to report to law enforcement. With the challenges that exist in the support system, victims of stalking are need of stalking experts, advocates and specialized agencies to provide direct services such as identity change, economic abuse recovery services, safety planning specific to stalking, and emergency funds. Without these life saving resources, many will be stalked to death.

Victims of stalking and violence are urged to report each and every incident to law enforcement and keep a detailed timeline of every incident. Changing online passwords frequently, using safe computers and email, and limiting or eliminating use of social networking sites is also advised. Reporting all incidents to law enforcement and to your nearest domestic violence shelter and state crime victim specialist will help build a case against any perpetrator. For more information, please visit http://tricountycrisiscenter.org or http://survivorsinaction.org.

How can you help? Please sign our petition and tell funding sources and grant makers that it is necessary to re-prioritize existing funding to programs that offer direct services. Help us as we urge policy-makers to reform the current system and take stalking seriously.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/a-call-to-action-for-stalking-reform/

Source: Survivors In Action