One simple thing you can do to make Stalking Awareness Month count

January is Stalking Awareness Month. A few quick facts about stalking, from the Stalking Resource Center:

  • 6.6 million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
So, stalking is pretty serious. You know what stalking isn’t? Perusing someone’s Facebook profile. Googling them. Reading their Twitter feed regularly. But those are all instances that you might, during the month of January, hear described in passing as “stalking.”

“Stalking” has a very specific meaning: “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” We use the word a lot,. but with very little awareness of what it means. And that can diminish the seriousness with which we treat the problem of stalking, which is widespread and real.

So this Stalking Awareness Month, there’s one thing – one hard, little thing – you can do to change that: call people out when they misuse the word. A simple, “surely there’s a better word for it than that?” will do. Keep your ears pricked for the word, and you’ll be surprised at how often you hear it. Quietly and politely call people out on misusing it, and you’ll be pleased at how easy it is to make awareness – and understanding – contagious.

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I am a little embarrassed to admit I have heard this word used in the way you described and not said anything. It actually kinda seems to have infiltrated common use so much that hearing “I am facebook-stalking so-and-so” doesn’t stick out as an uncommon or odd thing to hear. I totally see why it is inappropriate to use though and I will have to try to be better about bringing perspective to people that use it!

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