In recognition of National Stalking Awareness Month in January, HOPE, Inc., a United Way agency, is collaborating with Fairmont State University to provide free resources to students. HOPE, Inc., an agency that serves victims of stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault, will be present at the FSU home basketball games on Wednesday, Jan. 18, to provide educational materials and free stalking resource kits for victims.
HOPE staff will have an information booth at the women’s basketball game at 5:30 p.m. and the men’s basketball game at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18. Stalking kits provide useful tools victims can use to collect evidence, document stalking and increase safety.
Stalking is an underreported crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year. Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, texts, emails, gifts or visits. One in four victims reports that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices or hidden cameras, to track the victim’s daily activities.
Many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate the seriousness and impact of stalking. In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims. Stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships.
Victims may suffer from anxiety, social dysfunction and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of the stalking.
Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate and prosecute because it is a pattern of behavior, or series of acts, directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Communities that understand stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime.
“Campus police can better help victims of stalking if students learn to recognize it,” said Jessica Kropog Furgason, Program Specialist in the FSU and Pierpont Community & Technical College Department of Public Safety. “The earlier students seek help, the more likely we are to be able to prevent tragedies.”
For more information about HOPE, Inc. and services for victims of stalking, please call the 24-hour hotline at (304) 367-1100. If you are a student at FSU or Pierpont and believe you may be a victim of stalking, contact the Department of Public Safety at (304) 367-4157.
HOPE, Inc. is a nonprofit United Way agency that offers shelter and confidential supportive services to victims of sexual assault, stalking or domestic violence and their families. HOPE provides immediate, confidential help to victims through a 24 hour hotline. Professional counseling and support are available at the shelter in Marion County or in one of the four outreach offices.