Sexual violence is a widespread social issue that takes many forms. Because of the breadth of the issue, it’s easy to overlook how other crimes intersect with it. In the past, we’ve highlighted the intersection of sexual assault with domestic violence, but in recognition of National Stalking Awareness Month, we're going to take a look at some of the connections between sexual violence and stalking.
Too often popular culture portrays people who have stalked or committed sexual violence as shadowy figures who operate on the edges of society. The reality is the stark opposite for both crimes. Stalking and sexual assault are overwhelmingly perpetrated by someone the victim knows. 31% of women who are being stalked by an intimate partner have also been sexually assaulted by that partner.
Stalking can be difficult to initially recognize because many indications of it are legal – such as leaving unwanted messages. But it’s critical to remember that stalking is “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”
The impact of stalking and sexual violence can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, and insomnia, among many others. Additionally, victims of both crimes often lose time from work because of their victimization. Even though stalking is a crime in all 50 states, it is highly underreported. Just like sexual assault, a victim may not report the crime for a number of reasons.
It’s clear there are many connections between sexual assault and stalking. One of the most important connections to recognize is how misinformation about both of these topics makes them harder to address. Learning the facts about stalking and sexual violence is an opportunity for us to challenge what’s misunderstood and work toward better solutions.
Find out how you can help to promote National Stalking Awareness Month http://stalkingawarenessmonth.org/promote
Learn more on the facts about stalking https://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/default-source/src/stalking-fact-sheet-2015_eng.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Stalking Resource Center. (2014). Responding to Stalking: A Guide for Prosecutors. Retrieved from https://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/default-source/src/stalking_prosecutorguide_hi.pdf?sfvrsn=0