Serving Victims of Stalking
Michelle Garcia  -  2007/1/24
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
Most resources and suggested safety plans focus on victims who know their stalker. I have a case where a stalker is chosing to randomly stalk female letter carriers. His pattern is totally unpredictable. What types of services and suggestions should I know and recommend in a situation such as this?
 
1.  Mike Proctor
 Whenever we are dealing with a stranger stalker, we begin our investigations by profiling not only the behavior of the stalker, but the victims he stalks and in this case assaults. Oftentimes there are some similar elements such as race, age, physical attributes and demeanor that can be traced back to each victim; even though it is indicated that these attacks appear random in nature. Your first overiding clue is that all the victims are postal workers which means this predator has decided to hunt this grouping of prey, and is probably very comfortable in their midst. Without more information it is difficult to advise.This seems to be a case of a serial predator therefore, other factions need to be brought to bear, and there is not enough space to discuss all of them.
 
2.  Vickie
 The offender does not know the victims personally. He actually assaults or attempts to assault them. He is currently court ordered to a hospital for a 30 day evaluation and then will be determined if he is competent to stand trial. His pattern seemed so unpredictable. All the common sense things were suggested but I guess I was looking for some kind of insight when you have a stalker that doesn't fit the typical profile.
 
3.  Vickie
 Pairing up carriers isn't cost effective. The USPS would not be able to get behind that; however, once the offender is back on the street, LE could attempt to surveil the area to help the potential victims know they are not alone.
 
4.  Will Roberts
 Since this is such an abnormal case, would pairing up letter carriers be an effective tool? Just a thought I had.
 
5.  Michelle Garcia
 This scenario raises a few questions? Is the stalker known? What behavior is he engaging in? Regardless, one recommendation is to provide training for that postal service branch on stalking and safety planning. Even though there appears to be no pre-established relationship between the stalker and his victims, many of the safety planning tips we have on our Web site (www.ncvc.orgsrc) will still apply. If you contact me directly, I can talk with you more about training for your postal service.
 
 
When notifying stalking victims of the release of their offender, what is the one best piece of advice to give them when they ask for help? Typically, a stalking offender has a short sentence to serve in a prison.
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 I would recommend that the victim engage in safety planning. Some of the more important elements in this scenario would be for the victim to make her friends, family, co-workers aware of what is about to happen. If the offender is about to be released and there is a no contact provision as part of his sentence, the victim should carry a copy of the docket entry which details this. If the offender then makes, or attempts to make contact, he is in violation of his probation and authorities should be notified.
 
 
Many of us who work with stalking victims know that it is important to have evidence of the stalker's behavior to present to a court to get a restraining order and to successfully prosecute. Aside from keeping a journal, phone records, photos, can you offer any other suggestions of the types of evidence victims should collect to assist with the prosecution of these offenders?
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Collect anything and everything, any unwanted gifts, letters, etc. Also think about how technology may have been used email, text messages, voice mail (victims should work with their phone provider on saving these messages because many providers automatically delete after a certain number of days). In keeping a journal, or using a documentation log, be sure to also identify any witnesses to any of the behaviors. All of these will further substantiate any court proceedings.
 
 
Are there any classic profiles of stalkers/ and stalking behaviour? What internet resources are there for stalking victims and their lawyers?
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Numerous typologies of stalkers have been developed you can find some information on profiles on our Web site (www.ncvc.orgsrc) under Stalking Questions and Answers. I can also recommend a number of books on typologies if you are interested. In terms of online resources, I would recommend that you look at our Web site. Not only do we offer extensive information of use to both victims and practitioners, but also have a number of links to other online resources.
 
 
How do we get seemingly innocent acts to be taken as a crime of stalking by police departments, especially in smaller rural communities? Example parking across the street and watching a person. If two or more acts have been committed this could by MO. law be an act of stalking, however when we have tried to report, law officials say that it isn't illegal to park on a public street etc. Trying to get a training for law enforcement has been unsuccessful. -Desperate Advocate
 
1.  Nancy G. Ramos
 Mike, How can I get a copy of the CD on stalking protocol. I am a crime victim advocate for a LE agency.
 
2.  Mike Proctor
 Trust me, it is not just small town law enforcement that doesn't understand stalking. It happens throughout the U.S. and elsewhere in much larger agencies. Stalking training is greatly needed. Law enforcement needs to understand that the crime of stalking must be investigated differently than most other offenses. They can't seem to comprehend that stalking is a course of conduct crime. Therefore, all the acts of the stalker have to be taken into consideration when investigating and presenting a case for prosecution. Stalking cannot be based soley on just one incident. We have developed a stalking protocol for law enforcement. It is available on CD, unfortunately, most agencies don't want to put the necessary time needed to properly investigate a case.
 
3.  Michelle Garcia
 I understand your frustration, and unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario. Stalking is a difficult crime for many to grasp because it can criminalize behaviors that in and of themselves are not illegal, such as parking on a public street, sending an email, making a phone call, etc. You say training efforts have been unsuccessful; do you have an established relationship with perhaps an officer or detective that you could start with? Have you tried talking with your prosecutor? We may also be able to enlist law enforcement from neighboring communities to assist. Contact me directly and we can discuss this further.
 
 
I work on a military installation and we often have issues of whose jusrisdiction if it is cell phone harrassment and the victim isn't sure where they were at when the call came in. They usually have received calls on and off the installation, but nobody seems to want to take jurisdiction? How would you suggest this matter be approached and how can we get it to be taken seriously by both entitiies?
 
1.  Mike Proctor
 I agree with Michelle, stalking is oftentimes a multi-jurisdictional problem. The victims of stalking are stalked in various venues and in variety of ways. Law enforcement must work together, and it is crucial that someone step up and take point. This is something we continually stress when we teach.
 
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Jurisdictional issues often arise in stalking cases. Ideally, we want jurisdictions working together on these cases. This is critical in stalking cases because of the pattern of behavior element. Many states require 2-3 incidents to establish a pattern, if one happens in one jurisdiction and one happens in another, if they arent talking to each other it makes it very difficult for the victim as well as the investigation and prosecution. I would see if maybe you could engage your local prosecutor as well as you judge advocate general office. Stalking was only recently criminalized under UCMJ, so they may still be catching up.
 
 
Could you please give us an update on stalking via GPS installed in vehicles and cell phones? I think it is important to know some of the latest technology so that victims and advocates understand how this happens and what can be done to prevent it.
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 The use of GPS devices to track victims is becoming more and more common as the technology becomes less expensive and therefore, more accessible to more stalkers. We have seen a number of cases in the past year where GPS enabled cell phones have been hidden in the victims car, allowing the offender to track her every move when in the car. When a victim relays that her stalker keeps appearing everywhere shes at, particularly at places that she cant understand how he knows shes there, advocates and law enforcement should consider that a GPS device has been planted and investigate.
 
 
Does each State recieve funding for stalking law to be accountable to the women abused who are being stalked? Also, does restraining order's put stalking guidelines (such as avoid the home or where the women is living) in the order? If so what does a Rural County do when they are not aware of Stalking Laws? Is there a general standard form for Stalking? Thank you Annette
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 States receive funding to address stalking in a number of different ways, including VAWA funding from the Office on Violence Against Women. These funds can be used to address domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The reality is that while most communities in the US have organizations that provide victim services for domestic violence and sexual assault, few have developed dedicated stalking services. More and more, DV and SA organizations are addressing the issue, but there is still much work to be done. In terms of protective orders, they vary from state to state, but in general prohibit the offender from having any and all contact with the victim, including where she lives and where she works. A number of states have adopted legislation creating specific stalking orders of protection that provide these types of protections for the victim. Lastly, by standard form, if you mean standard behaviors that stalkers engage in, we see a vast range of behaviors by stalkers.
 
 
Michelle... Often we have victims who do not seem to want to help themselves (particularly in Domestic Violence cases). Stalking raises the stakes and the risk/dangerousness level so what can we do (or should we do) to get victims to help us help them! Kevin Woods (NVAA 96) kevin.woods@becker.edu
 
1.  Terri Barker
 I read one of the best books on domestic violence and the mind set of abusers. The book is written by Lundy Bancroft, the title Why does he do that? The book goes a long way to explain the various issues regarding the batterer as well as the survivor.It also goes into detail about escape plans and how to safely execute them.
 
2.  Michelle Garcia
 You can find a copy of Jacquelyn Campbell's Danger Assessment tool included in the report Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide which can be downloaded at http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/jr000250e.pdf
 
3.  kelle
 Here is the link: http://www.dangerassessment.com/WebApplication1/pages/bio.aspx
 
4.  Vicki Hipp
 I would like a copy of Jacqueline Campbell's threat assessment tool. Where can I find it?
 
5.  kelle
 I have found that using a dangerousness assessment with women helps them see the situation and risks in a way that is beneficicial for them. I prefer Jacqueline Campbell's assessment. It also helps to have one when you speak with law enforcement to go forward with a stalking investigation. It also tends to give victims a sense of validation that what they are experiencing is really happening and is dangerous.
 
6.  Will Roberts
 And always remember, that a safety plan is a self-generated thing. What is a safety plan for one person, is not one for someone else.
 
7.  Michelle Garcia
 As you know, there are many reasons you may run into this type of reaction from victims including their minimizing the behavior of the stalker and the threat he poses. For many victims, as the stalking behavior escalates, they may become more willing to seek assistance. For whatever point they are at when you are working with them, one thing you can do is help them safety plan. Not only does this get them thinking about the risk and threats posed to them, but also what to do is things get worse. I also think that as advocates we can have an impact if we express our own concerns for their safety, while still making sure we present options and support them in their decisions.
 
 
I am a Victim Services Coordinator for the Casper Police Department in Casper, Wyoming. I had heard a couple of years ago about agencies using "stalk the stalker kits" What do you know about these?
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Stalk the stalker is a phrase developed by Detective Mark Wynn to encompass the philosophy of using some of the same techniques against the stalker that the stalker has used against his victim. Most of it is routine police work, enhanced by the fact that you have a pretty good idea of where the stalker is going to strike since you know who his victim is. I have not heard of any prepared kits, but the kinds of activities I have heard law enforcement engaging in include surveillance, using cameras to document damage to property or just the stalkers presence at her home or work, and others that Id be happy to talk with you about more off-line.
 
 
What should a victim do if they don't know the stalker's name?
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 It depends. If a victim is unaware of who the stalker is, are there ways in which this person could be identified? For example, if they are calling the victim or sending emails or text messages, law enforcement could work with the phone company or internet service provider to try and obtain the persons identity.
 
 
Hello, I have two questions. 1.- What kind of evindence is needed to prove a stalking case? 2.- Does the victim need to make a report every time she/he is been stalked? Thank you.
 
1.  Nancy G. Ramos
 Where can I get a copy of the stalking documentation log?
 
2.  Michelle Garcia
 The evidence required to substantiate a stalking case will vary somewhat from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We advise stalking victims to document everything, and we provide a stalking documentation log on our Web site which victims can use to document the stalking behavior. Given the repetitive nature of stalking, its not always feasible to make a report for every incident. For instance, if the stalker calls 30 times in a day, the victim is not going to make a report for each call, but when she finally does report, it is important to provide comprehensive information about all the behaviors. Many victims will show their documentation log to police and this very succinctly can convey the seriousness of the issue.
 
 
My state has a stalking law but few stalking charges are actually brought against the stalkers b/c of the law being complicated to prosecute. What states have good stalking laws in place where they are actually charging offenders and getting convictions on these offenses.
 
1.  Mike Proctor
 California was the first state in the nation to have a stalking law. Many states' statutes have been modeled after same. We believe that all stalking cases should be vertically investigated and prosectuted. There are specialized units in states that utilize both detectives and prosecutors that are well versed in the stalking phenomenon such as the Los Angeles Police Department's Threat Management Unit, Westminster Calif.'s Family Protection Unit, San Diego P.D.'s Stalking task force. These units sucessfully prosecute multiple cases because of their approach to the problem.
 
2.  Renee B
 I would also be interested in more information on this as well. Could you send me the information too please?
 
3.  Michelle Garcia
 Stalking laws vary from state to state as do prosecutions. Often in one state there will be a jurisdiction that is very successful in prosecuting stalking cases and in another part of the state, not so much. Because of this, there isnt a state that I would point to and say that they have a good or bad stalking law. There are a number of areas across the country that have had successful prosecutions Seattle, Indianapolis, MassachusettsIn our national conferences, we also include training on investigating and prosecuting stalking cases aimed at prosecutors in order to enhance their understanding of the issue and how to build a successful case. Id be happy to send you materials and also could put you in touch with one of the many prosecutors we work with for further information. Also, I want to note that the National Center for Victims of Crime just published The Model Stalking Code Revisited, which provides a framework for effective stalking legislation. This is available at www.ncvc.org.
 
 
What are some things a victim of stalking can do in order to have her address remain confidential. Here in florida we can go through the Attorney Generals office, is this the same in other states if the victim decides to move?
 
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Many states offer address confidentiality programs either through their Attorney Generals office or other government office. However, its important for victims to keep in mind how all the ways in which their information gets collected including leases, utilities, voter registration, tax records, etc.
 
 
An important component of stalking is fear. How would you propose the fear element is best presented to the prosecutor?
 
1.  Mike Proctor
 Stalking is a course of conduct crime. In most states, there does not have to be a direct threat, but there does have to be a credible threat. Fear and/or emotional distress must be demonstrated. The course of conduct maybe rude, bizarre, or threatening to the victim. These acts such as hanging a teddy bear from the victim's door knob or leaving dead roses with a note must be shown to create fear and emotional distress in the victim. An example of a direct threat would be...I am going to kill you.
 
2.  Michelle Garcia
 The fear element requirement varies from state to state. Some require that the offender specifically intended to cause fear. In others, the question is would the offenders behavior cause a reasonable person to feel fear. In demonstrating fear, often what prosecutors looks at is the response of the victim, has she made changes in her life in response to the stalking, such as changing her routines, getting extra security, disengaging from social activities, etc. Emotional distress is another element that prosecutors will look at and this can include things like nightmares, depression, changes in eating habit, etc. and these dont necessarily require that the victim seeks professional help.
 
 
Hello again, If police arrest an offender will the victim automatically be registered to receive notification upon the offenders release, or is this something the victim will have to do if that particular state offers this service.
 
1.  Kim Gagnon
 In North Carolina we have the Statewide Automated Victim Assistance & Notification (SAVAN). This allows a victim to enter a phone number to be contacted upon the release of the offender as well as court dates. The victim receives an automated message. The system will keep attempting to notify (every hour)until a PIN number is entered verifying that the information was received.
 
2.  Michelle Garcia
 If an offender is just arrested, in contrast to having been convicted and imprisoned, a victim wont automatically be notified of his release from jail again it depends of the jurisdiction. A victim should work with the law enforcement officer handling their case and also the victim advocated in the police department andor prosecutors office to ensure they are notified.
 
 
What are the penalties if someone is to violate the stalking order and how can you help to hold the stalker accountable for his actions?
 
1.  Mike Proctor
 As Michelle indicated there are some states that have stalking orders of protection. In some states, if the stalker continues to stalk with an order of protection in place, he or she can be arrested for a felony. Most violations of a restraining order are misdemeanor offenses. Law enforcement uses the orders as a tool to disway the stalkers. It has been our experience that most stalkers will violate these orders. Keep the cops in the loope.
 
2.  Michelle Garcia
 When you say a stalking order, Im assuming you mean a stalking order of protection. To date, only 19 states have some version of a stalking order of protection, distinct from a domestic violence order of protection. In most cases, the violation of the order (both DV and stalking) is a criminal act and an arrestable offense. If the stalker violates the order, local law enforcement should be contacted.
 
 
What is the percentage of male stalkers vs. female stalkers? Are they both prone to violence? Does one deal the same way with a male stalker than with a female one? Thank you.
 
1.  Mike Proctor
 Men do stalk more often than women. Both can have violence issues. We also encounter same sex stalkers. Intimate partnerdomestic violence stalking seems to generate the most violence. As Michelle indicated, a great deal has to do with the type of stalker one is dealing with.
 
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Approximately 87 of stalkers are male, and 13 are female. Most research has focused on male stalkers, but there are some commonalities. A stalkers propensity for violence typically has less to do with their gender and is more specific to their individual case is there a pre-existing relationship with the victim, what are the stalkers motivations, etc. The recommendations and options we provide to victims are the same for male and female victims.
 
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