January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Despite ten years of outreach and activism, The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that over 6.6 million men and women are victims of stalking each year; about half of these people are new victims. This figure does not include children. Safe Horizon, “the largest victims’ services agency in the United States” understands stalking as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Safe Horizon stresses that stalking behaviors include and are not unlimited to
- “Repeated, unwanted, intrusive, and frightening communications, by phone, mail, and/or email
- Following or laying in wait for a victim at places victims tend to frequently visit, including home, school, or work
- Making direct or indirect threats to harm the victim or the victim’s children and family, friends, pets, and even co-workers
- Damaging or threatening to damage a victim’s property Harassing a victim through the Internet, including email, social networking sites, and other sites”
“All stalkers should be considered unpredictable.” 
I became aware of National Stalking Month Awareness through author Stina Lidenblatt who is doing a blog hop to raise awareness. Instead of sharing a story—and I am not without my own as I suspect many of my friends and readers are—I created several word clouds from the Safe Horizon Stalking Fact Sheet to illustrate aspects about stalking.
Women as well as men and children are victims of stalking.
One of the most disturbing facts I learned is that many victims think if they ignore stalking behaviors, a stalker will lose interest and leave their targets alone, when in fact, behaviors escalate.
Protect yourself and trust your intuition. Tell others. Get help.
Lindenblatt’s debut novel, Tell Me When, is a New Adult Contemporary Romance and releases next week on January 20th. Lindenblatt’s novel deals with stalking and kidnapping and the effects her survivor-victim main character struggles to overcome. I’m grateful to Lindenblatt’s blog hop for the opportunity to learn more about stalking and to get the word out. I’m also looking forward to reading Tell Me When: Amber Scott should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class.
She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.
But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again.
When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her–and Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.
Have you ever been a victim of stalking? If you wish to share your story, please feel free to use the anonymous comment feature. If you want to use social media to raise awareness, refer to the National Stalking Awareness Month 31 Days of Social Media PDF or create your own post. When you tweet, add #NSAM!
Please seek out the following organizations for extensive information, resources and help:
- Safe Horizon: http://www.safehorizon.org/index/get-help-8.html
- Safe Horizon Crime Victims Hotline: 866.689.HELP (4357)
- Safe Horizon Rape, Sexual Assault & Incest Hotline: 212.227.3000
- Safe Horizon TDD phone number for all hotlines: 866.604.5350
- The National Stalking Awareness Month website http://stalkingawarenessmonth.org/about
- The National Center for Victims of Crime http://www.victimsofcrime.org
- National Stalking Awareness Month 31 Days of Social Media PDF http://stalkingawarenessmonth.org/sites/default/files/2014NSAM_StatusUpdates.pdf
 The National Center for Victims Crime, Stalking Fact Sheet, http://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/src/stalking-fact-sheet_english.pdf?sfvrsn=4 accessed 01/17/2014.
 Safe Horizon, Facts About Stalking, http://www.safehorizon.org/index/get-help-8/stalking-36/facts-about-stalking-71.html accessed 01/17/2014.
 Safe, Facts.