Police Taking Stalking, Often Hard To Prove, More Seriously


Why do only one in three stalking victims report their cases to authorities? The New York Times asks that question in a review of a recently released U.S. Justice Department study on stalking, which was previously reported by Crime & Justice News. For one thing, they may know from those who do report that stalking can be difficult to stop. In one Ohio case, a woman said that a man, over 11 years, he appeared at her house or at the mall, sat behind her at the movies, sent demands by e-mail, and threatened her life. She said, the police told her that it was hard to “connect all his actions” and that he had denied them.

Three-quarters of victims know their stalker, whether it is a current or former friend, roommate or neighbor, this study and others have found. “Often stalkers want to make their victims fearful,” said Eugene Rugala, a former FBI profiler who advises on workplace threats. “They are thinking, 'How dare you do this to me? I'm going to make you pay.' But others feel it could be a way of getting back into the relationship.” Mary Lou Leary of the National Center for Victims of Crime, a former federal prosecutor, said that “Stalking is treated like domestic violence was 20 or 25 years ago. Law enforcement is often suspicious or cynical, but is now beginning to deal with stalking as a crime.” “Many people told us they were uneasy, felt creeped out or scared,” said Katrina Baum, a Bureau of Justice Statistics researcher and an author of the study. “There's a reluctance to label the behavior because it's too frightening. At some point the behavior can escalate to where it can't be ignored.”

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