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.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

Read more about Chloe

Join the Conversation