OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Assisting Victims of Intimate Partner Stalking
Michelle Garcia  -  2008/1/9
How will the new "illegal alien" enforcement laws in 7 states affect victim reporting, especially if the offender is a citizen/resident alien & victim is an undocumented person? My community is approximately 45% immigrant.
1.  Mike Proctor
 S.A. It has been my experience that being an undocumented alien should not halt the investigation of a crime being perpetrated towards them. However, the hispanic populations are not the only ones that suffer from a cultural barrier in regard to crime reporting; especially domestic violence andor stalking. I was a homicide/predator crimes detective for over 34 years in a community that is about 45-65 Asian...depending on who is compiling the figures. I now consult all over the world on stalking. Culture, not just the fear of being deported, also plays an important role in how and even if law enforcement is approached by victims. Many times victims cultural beliefs and those that enforce those belief systems will not allow them to participate in the criminal justice process.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Im not very familiar with the new laws you reference, so I dont want to comment on those specifically. However, we know that whenever a victim is undocumented, this poses additional barriers to reporting to law enforcement and/or accessing services. I'd be glad to consult with our attorney on this issue and provide a more detailed response if you contact me offline at src@ncvc.org or 202-467-8700.
Good Afternoon Michelle, The police are typically the first to assist these victims. Are we seeing a consistent and appropriate response, and enforcement of stalking laws nationwide? If not, what are some of the major problems? Thank you, Prof. Woods (NVAA-96)
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Its really difficult to address the issue of whether there's more or less stalking because we don't have very good national data. There are a number of variables that further complicate the question such as are stalking crimes being charged as crimes other than stalking (e.g. battery, trespass, vandalism, burglary, etc.), has your law changed during the time period to make it more difficult to prosecute, were there activities occurring five years ago to raise awareness about stalking that aren't occurring today?
2.  Henry
 Last year, my county's law enforcement agencies (pop. 1,150,000) reported 4 misdemeanor and 2 felony stalking cases. Five years ago, 33 felony stalking and 4 years ago 120 misdemeanor stalking cases were reported. Is there less stalking? Doubtful because reports of DV remained relatively stable.
3.  Michelle Garcia
 Stalking victims enter the system through a variety of channels, and in many cases law enforcement is not the primary path. Stalking, like domestic violence and sexual assault is vastly under reported to law enforcement. Many times victims first outreach will be to community advocates or they will engage in the civil justice system in order to obtain an order of protection. That said, the response from law enforcement, like other systems varies throughout the country. There are many departments who are engaged in training efforts and have developed policies and protocols to ensure consistent appropriate responses to victims. At the same time, there are those who have not received much, or any, training on stalking, leaving them poorly equipped to respond to the often complex issues associated with stalking. As training and policies become more widespread, I think we will see enhanced responses to victims.
The potential for Lethality is extremely high for intimate partner stalking. I am aware of local funds for relocation expense but am curious if there is a nationwide data base of services or funding for victims who move out of state to escape their offender and or stalker. Thanks, John
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Many states have implemented Address Confidentiality Programs (ACP)or are in the process of doing so. For a full list of state that offer ACPs see our Web site under Help for Victims or http://mp.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_AddressConfidentialityPrograms160
2.  J Kocian
 Texas is in the process of enacting this safe at home policy through our Attorney General's office. From what I understand it is not limited to stalking victims but pseudomyn is given to the victim and the address is a P O Box regulated by the AG's office.
3.  Annette Scott
 Nevada has a (CAP) Confidential Address Program very simular to CA. It was based on the Washington program. It has worked for many victims of DVSA... some stalking... but stalkers will work they way around and try to find other ways. An example is the Private Investigators through I.C.U. They have done some serious damage to a few of my clients. This is a National agency that has contacts everywhere.
4.  Angela Clark
 Kansas also has the Safe at Home program that was enacted in 2006. The program provides a substitute address to be used by participants as their legal address when interacting with state and local agencies and a free mail forwarding service for first-class mail. More information can be found at www.kssos.org/safeathome
5.  Darlene Johnson
 Cindi, in response to your question, funding may be available through the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). Please check online at www.ovw.usdoj.gov for current solicitations and eligibility.
6.  Linda Foley
 Does any other state have a safe at home program? In CA it is run through the Sec of State. Victims can relocate and are given a PO Box number that goes to the Sec of State's office. It is then forwarded to the individual. It helps to keep them invisible to anyone they don't want to find them.
7.  Michelle Garcia
 You're correct, the potential for lethality is very high for intimate partner stalking victims and many end up relocating. The National Center for Victims of Crime maintains a database of over 14,000 victim services, assistance, and compensation across the country. To access you can call 1-800-FYI-CALL or email at gethelp@ncvc.org.
8.  Cindi Hernandez
 Would be very interested in finding out if there are grants avaialable for funding this sort of thing...
In the past several years women who have suffered domestic violence and stalking related behaviors in their current past and current relationships have not been provided the proper treatment services. How can indviduals who are human service professionals provide these individual with the necessary treatment interventions in order for them to become more productive members of society again?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 When you write treatment services do you mean mental health counseling/therapy services? If so, we know that only about 13 of female and 15 of male victims seek these types of services, even though we see a variety of impacts including depression, PTSD, anxiety, altered eating and sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, etc. I think a first step is increasing community awareness of the services available to victims, if there are any. Working with law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, and others to increase this awareness and referrals among agencies. And if there aren't any services for stalking victims in your community, to explore ways to develop those.
In the past I've worked with stalking victims and it always seems as though many in law enforcement are very reticent about investigating or charging a defendant with stalking even though most states and the federal government have anti-stalking laws as well as full faith and credit laws which require that a valid Order of Protection must be enforced in states than the one in which it was issued. Do you have ideas about how this lack of training and knowledge can be tackled in a comprehensive way?
1.  Mike Proctor
 Shane,I was a cop for over 34 years and began working stalkers in June of 1991. I now consult and teach, write books and articles, as well as do radio and television media in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Everyday on my website I get the same complaint as yours about the lack of law enforcement response. I continually train law enforcement and others. Unfortunately, as the other detective has said training cop to cop is very important because sometimes cops are the hardest to get on board the stalking train in many situations. Don't get me wrong,most law enforcement officers become cops to help people. That being said, to actually investigate a stalking case and get a good prosecutiorial outcome takes a great deal of time and and energy. Our average stalking crime reports are 250-700 pages long. We have found the best way to get stalkers and other Domestic Violence scenarios prosecuted is to get cops pressured from the top down. In other words, the chief, sheriff or detective commander has to make it a priority.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 The Stalking Resource Center Web site (www.ncvc.org/src) has lots of information for victims and we also provide links to other organizations that provide information for stalking victims. If victims are looking to find services in their community, they can contact the National Center for Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-FYI-CALL or gethelp@ncvc.org. If you are interested in training, contact the SRC at 202-467-8700 or src@ncvc.org and we can discuss training opportunities.
3.  Michelle Garcia
 Debbie, I think you raise an interesting point. It's for this very reason that the SRC has developed training specifically for law enforcment and we typically utilize law enforcment trainers as faculty to train with us.
4.  J Kocian
 Ms. Garcia, you reference training regarding Order of Protection and other information relating to stalking. I work in the Victim Services Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and we provide other institutions where victims can obtain assistance. Is there a specific website that our Agency can include on our resource directory for stalking victims can contact? And for our personnel themselves to obtain training and further knowledge on the stalking laws?
5.  Michelle Garcia
 We often hear this concern across the country. In some cases, the stalking laws that exist in the state make stalking very difficult to prove. For example, in one state, following or surveillance must always be part of the behavior in order to charge stalking, and we know that stalkers use a variety of tactics and sometimes this may not include following. Because of challenges with state statutes, stalking may not get charged, however, in many of these cases, other crimes, such as trespass, burglary, vandalism, could be charged and should be explored with law enforcement and the prosecutor. Even in states where the statute may not pose as much a challenge, we know that stalking may not get charged for a variety of other reasons. Training is really one of the best ways to enhance law enforcement responses to stalking. At the Stalking Resource Center, we travel across the country providing training to multidisciplinary groups in order to enhance responses. We also have a number of resources on our Web site specifically for law enforcement. We encourage communities to develop collaborative responses among law enforcement, advocates, prosecutors, and other stalk holders to increasing training for all. I would suggest you explore working with the various systems in your community to develop a community wide plan. We'd be happy to work with you in more detail on this if you contact us at 202-467-8700 or src@ncvc.org.
6.  Debbie Hollan
 As a Det. that has worked over 4,000 stalking cases, I would tell you that until training is formulated specifically for cops and taught by Cops and is mandated, you are going to continue to see reluctance to arrest as there is not the basic understanding of first the laws and second the seriousness of the violations of these laws.
Thinking in terms of teaching teenagers and their questions: At what point does spying become stalking? Why do people stalk someone that they haven't dated and don't necessarily intend to date, but still "keep track" of them. How do you help stalkers improve their behavior?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 There are very few programs conducting stalking prevention education that we are aware of - most is awareness raising. But that is a good place to start. We'd be happy to work with you to create programming for your students. Also, the SRC will be conducting a Webinar on Teens and Stalking on January 23, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. ET. Moderated by National Center for Victims of Crime's Teen Victim Initiative director Mitru Ciarlante, this is the fourth a Web-based series on helping teen victims of crime. Sandy Bromley, the Stalking Resource Centers senior staff attorney, will discuss harassment cases involving teens and recent research on the use of technology in stalking. She will also explore the normalization of stalking and its impact on youth and teens.
2.  J. Mitchell
 Thank you for expanding on Garcia's comments. We find stalking to be a very different discussion with teens than adults, particularly with their sense of boundaries, privacy and access influenced by technology. We write curriculum for sexual violence prevention education and are always looking for ways to address stalking among other topics. If you know of any organizatin that addresses stalking well, please let me know.
3.  Mike Proctor
 Michelle gave an excellent response to this question. I am continually contacted by victim advocates who are concerned about the growing complaints of stalking in not only the high school level, but college as well. Those in my field are developing more training to counteract this problem. School staff needs to be brought up to speed to assist both law enforcement and victim advocates in getting a better handle on this problem;unfortunately, many seem to be reluctant to take the necessary steps to stem the growing tide of teenage stalking. By the way, we are seeing a growing number of students using the Internet to bully as well as a conduit for stalking.
4.  Michelle Garcia
 The rates of stalking among teens are growing rapidly. Part of the issue is the normalization of behaviors among teens that could be considered stalking - that it is acceptable to text someone 100 times a day, or call 50 times a day, or track their IM away messages or Facebook activity. The definition we use to answer your question about when does it become stalking is would it cause a reasonable person to feel fear? Now, this is not a legal definition, and this will vary from state to state, but in terms of addressing teen behavior it is a useful definition. Because many teens consider this usual or normal behavior, it isn't until they are confronted and made aware that their behavior is unwanted, unacceptable, inappropriate that they see anything wrong with it. Education and increasing awareness is a starting point at getting these types of individuals to improve their behavior. It was this very dynamic that lead to the development of our new media materials for Stalking Awarness Month with the message -- Its Not a Joke. Its Not Romantic. Its Not OK. Stop Stalking.
What do you know specifically about people with developmental disabilities and stalking? We are interested in incidence and prevalence statistics and what you may know about best practices for assisting said victims of this crime.
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Additional resrouces include Accessing Safety - Innovative Resources to Improve Services by the Vera Institute (www.accessingsafety.org); Victims of Crime with Disabilities Resource Guide (http://www.uwyo.edu/wind/resourceguide/default.asp).
2.  Nikki Matucha
 I am not sure of the exact name of the binder that our office uses (am working at home today). But through the Iowa Collision they have put together a binder that offers flash cards to assist with the disabled. Fortunately our office has yet to use the binder, but it is put together nicely and may be used in different ways to handle whatever the situation is.
3.  Michelle Garcia
 This is an area that is still woefully under researched, as are many other issues regarding stalking. Given the level of physical violence experienced by people with disabilities, as well as the established link between intimate partner violence and stalking, it is highly probable that people with disabilities experience significant levels of stalking. However, we don't have exact numbers. We are attempting to develop more resources specifically for victims with disabilities and have developed trainings on this topic. In 2006, we published an article titled, Victims with Disabilities Face Unique Challenges which can be downloaded from our Web site - www.ncvc.org/src.
I am delighted the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) is joining the Office for Victims of Crime to present this web forum and want to thank the National Center for Victims of Crime and Michelle Garcia for leading the discussion. As you may know, I have recently been appointed Director of OVW. As a former prosecutor, I know first-hand how devastating the crime of stalking can be for a victim. This January, designated as Stalking Awareness month, OVW is asking for everyone’s help to increase awareness about stalking. Working together we can identify and prevent this crime. I look forward to this discussion on intimate partner stalking so that we can better serve the needs of victims and hold perpetrators accountable for this serious crime.
We get calls from victims of stalking and DV that are also victims of identity theft by the people who are abusing them. We would appreciate any suggestions you have that might help.
1.  Linda Foley
 Thank you. We do work with them to help them separate themselves from the relationship but they need more. Has anyone tried something that gives more than restoration of their good name?
2.  Michelle Garcia
 This is a growing concern for victims of stalking and we have heard numerous examples of victims who have had their stalker use the victims banking or credit information to make purchases or set up false accounts in their name, often with the intent of ruining their credit. As with any stalking behavior, the victim should document all of the behavior and activities. If there is a pre-existing relationship between the victim and the stalker, she should consider closing or changing any of the accounts she has when she was with the perpetrator. At the same time she or he should take steps to deal with the identity theft. More information on this can be found on the National Centers web site under the Get Help Bulletins - http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32359
Is there a comprehensive resource available on stalking to aid in community awareness and staff training?
1.  Mike Proctor
 The Organization Michelle works for...the National Center for Victims of Crime is an excellent resource generating a great deal of up to date information. As to a comprehensive guide...I believe the book How to Stop a Stalker covers a great deal of information that can assist those in need of not only why stalkers do what they do, stalking prevention, and how to case manage a stalking investigation. It is used by law enforcement, victim advocates, educators, and victims of stalking.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Since there are so many aspects to addressing stalking, I dont know if I can offer you a comprehensive resource. However, on the Stalking Resource Center Web site we have lots of information on stalking, including general awareness materials, resources for law enforcement and prosecutors and victim advocates, and resources for victims. Our web site is www.ncvc.org/src. If there is anything specific that you are looking for that you cannot find, please let us know and well see what we can do. You can reach us at 202-467-8700 or src@ncvc.org.
Hello Michelle, I am a crime victim advocate at a LE agency. How can I obtain a copy of the stalking documentation log?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Hi Nancy. The stalking incident and behavior log is available for download from our Web site under the Help for Victims section. If you have any trouble downloading, send us an email at src@ncvc.org and will send a copy to you directly.
Is there much data on the number of stalking victims who go on to become victims of physical and/or sexual violence by the perpetrator?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Some, and mostly focused on stalking by a current or former intimate partner. Research has shown that 81 percent of stalking victims who were stalked by an intimate partner reported that they had also been physically assaulted by that partner and 31 percent were also sexually assaulted by that partner. Nearly 36 percent of women stalked by former romantic partners experienced stalking violence, defined as any physical attack on the victim by the stalker that resulted in physical injury to the victim or that was interpreted by the victim as being intended to result in physical injury.
Are there laws in new york state against stalking? What laws protect immigrant victims of domestic violence?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Yes, there are laws in New York state against stalking -- stalking is a crime in all 50 states. You can find New Yorks law on our Web site at www.ncvc.org/src under Stalking Laws. As for which laws protect immigrant victims of domestic violence, they are protected in general by the same laws that protect non immigrants -- domestic violence is a crime no matter who the victim. However, immigrants will face barriers that non-immigrants wont, especially if they are undocumented. Legal Momentum has a great Immigrant Women Program that offers a variety of resources and lots of information on this issue www.legalmomentum.org.
I work at a domestic violence shelter in South Dakota. We find it particularly difficult to help those women whose stalkers are affiliated in some way with law enforcement, as the stalkers then have access to school records, economic assistance records, and even legal name changes and Social Security changes, making it nearly impossible for the victim to "disappear." Can anyone give us information on ways to more effectively help these victims? Thank you very much.
1.  Mike Proctor
 Cal. has had a similiar program in place as was discussed by Debbie Thorntion concerning protecting mail as well as the location of a secured victim. I also agree that a standard protocol should be in place designed to handle anyone suspected of being a stalker who is involved in or has acess to law enforcement information. We have found that having our County's D.A. investigators take over the investigation eliminates any chance of impropriety on the part of the involved law enforcement agency.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Both great suggestions, though unfortunately, South Dakota doesn't currently have an Address Confidentiality Program. Law enforcement agencies need to take stalkers seriously and remove them from their ability to access their information, though we know that this doesnt always happen. You should contact the Relocation Project, Greater Boston Legal Services (800-323-3205) which can provide you with the best information in dealing with this situation.
3.  Toni Hood
 I am a VAdvocate in SC. I have had to address this issue with officers in the past. I would suggest that you have a sit down conversation with the Sheriff, Police Chief and County Supervisor. Explain victim rights and the penalties for not enforcing these rights. If that does not work, reach out to the local news media to educate the public about rights and penalties.
4.  Debbie Thornton
 We have a new program called the Address Confidentialty Program. (www.acp.colorado.gov) It provides a substitute address for public records, even drivers licenses. All mail is then forwarded to the real address. It uses an address with a code number that looks like an apartment number that can go on job applications, school records etc. so actual info is not public.
I am the legal advocate for Domestic Violence Services for Cumberland and Perry Counties in PA. DVS/CP is interested in implementing a protocol for stalking within our counties. We are interested in any suggestions/information that may help us to implement this type of program or any websites, etc., that may assist us with this matter. If you are able to provide us with this information, we are also interested to know what type of barriers/issues have been presented regarding this type of protocol. Any information you have regarding this issue would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your assistance with this matter.
1.  Mike Proctor
 Since 1991 we have started developing and refining our stalking protocol which is used by law enforcement, victim advocates, etc in all or portions thereof through out the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. If you would like a copy of the same simply go to my website, send me and email, and it will be provided free of charge. My website is www.detectivemikeproctor.com
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Great to hear that your counties are pursuing a protocol. There is an excellent resource that we developed in partnership with the Department of Justice COPS office titled, Creating an Effective Stalking Protocol (available for download from our Web site under our publications section) that would be a good place to start. We also have examples of numerous protocols from across the country that we could share with you and wed be happy to provide any direct assistance in developing and implementing the protocol if you contact us directly at 202-467-8700 or src@ncvc.org.
3.  John M Laycock
 Hello Nicole, There is a very good model protocol available under the heading stalking on the OVC web site. I printed it out and is is very complete. John
What are some ways that a probation department can assist victims after there has been a conviction and the offender is sentenced to probation? We would like to be more active in working with the victim so that probation order and order of protection violations can be reported promptly. However, very few victims reach out to us. How can we reach out to victims without compromising their safety?
1.  Mike Proctor
 We encourage what Michelle has indicated, in fact we have our own Orange County Probation Officer who specializes in Domestic Violence assigned to our F.P.U. (Family Protection Unit). I also conduct an 8 hour stalking training course for the entire probation department. Of course, due to the size of their agency this is done over a period of weeks, and must be done on a fairly regular basis due to turnover and retirements within the department.We have found that the training assists probation officers in identifying potential stalking threats on those on their caseloads that have not been convicted of stalking, but are in fact stalkers. Our probation Dept. has also developed a specialized Domestic Violence unit within its ranks.
2.  Atiya
 I practice civil law in the area of domestic violence, but often help my clients through the criminal justice process. One of the frustrations is that I have to spend a lot of time investigating to find out names or probation officers, because my clients do not receive this information. My clients often do not receive a letter from the District Attorney's Office stating critical information like the number for probation, but it would be very helpful.
3.  Michelle H
 This is a great suggestion, however, one of the main problems we experience is that the victim advocates will not talk to us because of confidentiality reasons. Therefore, we end up being the last ones to know about a protection order violation. My hope is to reach out to the victim to educate them about the probation process, so that the victim understands what rules the offender needs to abide by, and what constitutes a violation.
4.  Michelle Garcia
 The role of probation officers is critical, and I'm so glad you raised this point. It can be helpful if probation officers are able to work with advocates in their law enforcement or prosecutors offices to attempt to build relationships with victims. Victims often will have established relationships with these individuals and they can facilitate connections. Also, reach out to your local domestic violence and sexual assault programs to build relationships, since these are often the programs victims turn to for services. Because we recognize this is such a pressing issue, we are currently working with the American Probation and Parole Association to develop resources and training on stalking specifically for probation, parole, and corrections officers, and hope to have these out in 2009.
Are there any links between stalking behavior and non-stranger rape?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Yes. Dr. David Lisak has conducted research on sexual assault on college campuses and found that men who engage in behaviors that would meet a legal definition of sexual assault, often proceed the assaults with behaviors that could in some cases be considered stalking, such as information gathering, following, surveillance, etc. The language they use to describe victims includes prey and targets and there is definitely a predatory element to their behaviors. We also often see stalking behavior following non-stranger assaults where the offender may repeatedly contact the victim to influence her or threaten her not to tell anyone or report the assault.
Obtaining an stalking order: Q:When is the time to get stalking order? Q:Does there need to be more than one, unawanted contacted, to a person to apply for a stalking order? Q:Does it depend on the severity or not?
1.  Mike Proctor
 I agree with Michelle that restraining orders can effect the stalker's behavior. That is why a comprehensive threat assessment must be conducted prior to the handling detective making a determination on whether or not to have a victim obtain one. Once a restraining order is in play, law enforcement must actively monitor the case and be ready to immediately step in and effect an arrest when the order is violated. Otherwise, the victim is at risk.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 As I mentioned in an earlier response, there are pros and cons to orders of protection for stalking victims. Yes, they can and do work. They are also often violated and can escalate the stalkers behavior. Because of this, the decision whether to get and the timing of a protective order will be individual to each victim. For stalking orders specifically, you can find charts on our Web site that detail what states require a petitioner to show to obtain an order.
I'm involved with a Policy Summit to end violence against women in LA. The intention is to find a 'flaw' in the system and fix it. Which government agency is responsible to make sure company policies are in compliance, or include the issues of workplace violence, stalking, DV, Sexual harrashment, etc.? Anything you can enlighten us on the issue of violence against women in the workplace, in the context of policy change? What can we do?
1.  Mike Proctor
 Workplace violence is becoming a topic of great debate not only in Cal. but elsewhere in the U.S. Where companies H.R. divisions have strictly adhered to zero tolerance sexual harassment policies...workplace violence protocol's are lagging behind. As an example...stalking can start in the workplace and follow the victim home or start at home and follow the victim back to the his or her workplace. A couple of areas you might want to look are Cal. Civil Code Section 51.7 which prohibits hate crimes...including violence generated towards ones gender as well as AB 429...the Workplace Violence Safety Act. Cal. also has workplace violence restraining orders that can be put in place. One of the effective ways we have gotten employers to take note and develop a workplace violence policy is to explain to them the huge sums of money that are being paid out by companies who do not have one in place when an employee sues them for damages as a result of said violence generated in the workplace.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 This will differ from state to state to some degree, but I'd start with our state department of labor and whichever state agency is responsible for EEOC compliance andor the human rights division, if it's not the department of labor. These are often the divisions tasked with addressing sexual harassment and other related issues. I would also suggest contacting Peace at Work (http://peaceatwork.org), an agency that specifically addresses workplace violence issues.
How do the rules of stalking differ in other states?
1.  Mike Proctor
 The National Center for Victims of Crime is an excellent information site for stalking victims, advocates; as well as law enforcement. Even though all 50 states have anti-stalking legislation...many differ as to penalties and requirements. Unfortunately not all show first time stalking as being a felony offense. We are continually striving to amend those states laws to making first offense stalking a felony. Your readers should keep in mind that stalking is a problem through out the world. The United Kingdom, Japan,and Australia,have passed anti-stalking legislation. Germany just passed a new law last year. We are continually consulting in these and other countries...South Korea just contacted us. We oftentimes tell people that at a minimum anywhere domestic violence takes place so does stalking.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Stalking laws differ from state to state, however, there are common elements to many stalking laws. You can find every state criminal stalking statute on our Web site in the Stalking Laws section. You can also find an analysis of common elements and recommendations for a model code, published by the National Center for Victims of Crime, on the Web site as well.
Many states, such as WV, have done away with the old restraining order that has left victims of stalking and threats almost powerless. What suggestions are provided for these victims?
1.  Mike Proctor
 As a victim advocate and stalking educator, I find as does Michelle this to be a disheartening state of affairs. One suggestion that I would put forward is to organize as many victim advocate groups in your state as possible to start a grassroots campaign to get those restraining orders back in place. Many a grassroot campaign has worked. I deal with victim advocates and victims of stalkers that have become the catalyst that formed the change needed to ammend their state's stalking law. Yes, a protection order my change the behavior of a stalker, that is why it is extremely important to have an active law enforcement presence after one is issued.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Im sorry to hear that WV has weakened or eliminated this resource for victims. Many states are actually moving in the opposite direction and enacting legislation providing protective orders specifically for stalking victims. No matter, there are pros and cons to protective orders for stalking victims. While we know they can and do work in many cases, we also know that the majority of stalking victims have their protective orders violated. We also know that in some cases, obtaining a protective order escalates the stalkers behavior. Because of this, when discussing protective orders with stalking victims we address the pros and cons and always engage in safety planning around the process of petitioning for order and also when the order will be served. In may states there are also different types of order to prohibit contact, such as criminal no contact orders, or other types of civil orders. For any victim in any state, we would explore the options available to them, and I can discuss the specifics of WV with you offline.
Good afternoon Michelle, Is it difficult to arrest and prosecute someone for stalking if there isn't any hard evidence e.g., stalker drives by home, office, and/or shows up at events and/or parties that victim is attending? It's basically one word against the other.
1.  Mike Proctor
 We completley agree with Michelle. Document, Document, Document. For example there are a few threat management units that we have delt with that assist their stalking victims with phone tape recording equipment, as well as in some cases video cameras to enable digital video of their stalkers driving by or walking up to their homes. Stalking is not always an easy crime to prosecute, but what we tell detectives to look for and prosecute the stalker on are all the other crimes that the stalker commits while conducting their stalking behavior. These would include but are not limited to burglary,false imprisonment, vandalism, rude or annoyinig phone calls, criminal threats, tresspassing,etc. Victims of stalking should be encouraged to push for prosecution on every crime their stalkers commit be it small or large. They need to get them into the criminal justice system anyway they can.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Lack of evidence always makes it more difficult to arrest and prosecute an offender for any crime, but is even more challenging in stalking cases because so often the stalking behaviors are in and of themselves not illegal calling someone, driving on a public street, showing up at a public place it is when they are viewed as a pattern that they may be elevated to the criminal offense of stalking. Because of this, we discuss with victims documenting all of the behavior as it occurs, and we offer a very simple stalking documentation log on our web site that can be downloaded to use. Recording the date and time of the incident, a brief description of the incident, any witnesses, and whether it was reported to the police is valuable information to have all in one place. Also saving evidence such as voicemails, emails, text messages, etc. Over time we find that there are often witnesses to the events, but because they seem innocuous, don't perceive them for what they are. We have seen this type of documentation be very effective with law enforcement and prosecutors and have even had prosecutors who have entered the stalking documentation log into evidence during trial.
We have always recommended safety plans and incident journals in addition to contact with law enforcement but that is never enough to protect a victim from an intimate partner. What are the best practice suggestions for a woman being stalked by an intimate or former intimate partner?
1.  Mike Proctor
 Once again, Michelle brings out several good points. Since we developed a stalking protocol and began actively working stalkers...1991 we have not had a stalking related homicide take place in our city. Prior to that we did. (The caveat to that is we had to be aware that a stalking was taking place so we could initiate our protocol and stalk the stalker.) We strongly suggest that a threat management unit with a multi-disciplinary approach be developed within your police department. One of the things we do for our victims besides supplying them with a victim stalking log and information about safety planning is to do a victim worksheet. We take full photos of them, including ups and downs and side shots. We document and photo all scars and tattoos. We fingerprint them as well as photo and print any of their children that might be at risk. We photograph the vehicles they drive. We obtain a location for dental records, credit card information, etc.We are even thinking about collecting DNA. Why, because if a victim or her children go missing, we can put out the most up to date information to the media in the critical hours following the abduction. By the way, victims love that we care enough to do this. There has never been a complaint concerning this inventory.
2.  Angela Janet
 Kansas has victim service liaisons who work in the parole offices along side parole officers to address this type of situation. I think the protocal should be the same, however the parole officer should be notified or a victim services liaison should be notified to let the parole officer know. We also have victim services liaisons in the prisons to help identify victim concerns prior to the release of the offender to have a safety plan in place.
3.  J Kocian
 Would you suggest the same protocol if the victim is being stalked by the initial offender after being released from prison?
4.  Michelle Garcia
 Safety planning is critical, particularly for victims who are being stalked by current for former intimate partners because we know these offenders pose an increased risk to their victims. They are more likely to physically approach victim, more insulting, interfering and threatening, more likely to use weapons, their behaviors more likely to escalate quickly, and they are more likely to re-offend. Because of this, victims in conjunction with law enforcement and/or victim advocates, should be engaging in continuous threat assessment and safety planning. This will be individual to each victim and must constantly be updated and circumstances change for both the victim and the offender. Additional information on safety planning is available on our Web site.
California has a "safe at home" program where the person is able to move, given a PO Box that goes through the Sec. of State's office and therefore can be invisible to the stalker. Are there programs like this in other states?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 Californias Safe at Home program is an address confidentiality program (ACP). Many states have implemented these programs or are in the process of doing so. For a full list of state that offer ACPs see our Web site under Help for Victims or http://mp.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_AddressConfidentialityPrograms160
Our agency has some trouble with the law enforcement in handling intimate stalking as a priority. Do you have any suggestions as to what our office can do to get these cases as high importance cases?
1.  Tanya
 I live in a remote area and stalking victims could wait a very long time for LE response. In these situations documentation is critical and so is having support readily available. I suggest notifying neighbors and others in the community to see the stalker as just that, a STALKER, and to notify neighbors etc. that if the stalker is seen in the area to call police and make sure they know that they have been seen and documented. Again it is the secrecy and the shame and a sense of vulnerability the victims feel that makes this crime so prevalant especially amongst the younger people in our communities. LE can't always protect victims but when communities learn to support victims and have expectations about certain violent behavior the perpetrators and predators find it very hard to hide behind that secrecy. Building up victims by offering support and strength throughout the community while they find their own power helps.
2.  Peggie Reyna
 Peace Over Violence has a collaboration with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office which includes a web site www.lovemenot.org and a 24-hour stalking hot line (1.877.633.0044. We provide assistance with documentation, threat assessment, safety concerns and obtaining a restraining order, as well as on going counseling for the survivor. This collaboration has been highly beneficial to our agency, our clients and law enforcement in addressing intimate partner stalking since it's implementation in Feb. 2000. I suggest you speak with your local District Attorney about development of a collaboration and a specific stalking, threat assessment team.
3.  Mike Proctor
 As Michelle Garcia has intimated intimate partner stalker can and oftentimes does represent a real threat of violence to a stalking victim. That is why we continually stress that law enforcement must develop specialized stalker training as well as detectives trained in the use of threat assessment. More agencies are finding that a multi-disciplinary approach to the stalking issue works the best. This includes a team that uses a verticle prosecution approach,the use of victim advocates, as well as probation officers trained in the handling of domestic violence and stalkers.
4.  Michelle Garcia
 It may require a reframing of these cases for law enforcement and education about the high risk for lethality associated with these cases. Stressing the fact that intimate partner stalkers pose increased risks for victims, that over a third of intimate partner stalking victims experience physical attacks by the stalker, and that a study spanning 11 cities found that of women who were murdered by an intimate partner had also been stalked by that person in the year prior to their death. A law enforcement officer has remarked that responding to intimate partner stalking is responding to a homicide in progress - if they don't respond appropriately, there is a great likelihood that victim will end up dead. There's a short video designed as a roll call training video for law enforcement that could be a good beginning educational tool, it's called Stalking: Real Fear, Real Crime and you can find a link to download it from on our Web site.
Most often, programs for victims are not generated until something tragic occurs in which the media brings to light. In Delaware, they provided a variety of programs in regards to domestic violence, but stalking is not something that is being taken seriously unless it is considered a Domestic dispute. What measures can be taken to show the severity of this issue in order to get programs generated to aid those in which stalking is not a relationship gone bad?
1.  Mike Proctor
 This is an area where Michelle and I completely agree. I educate law enforcement, victim advocates as well as state legislators in the importance of developing a stalking protocol that includes a multi-discplinary approach to case managing stalking in all of its forms. This means that detectives and prosecutors must be well versed in the stalking phenomenon. Detectives must be trained in threat assessment, and either the department's domestic violence unit or a specialized threat assessment unit has to incorporate, victim advocates, social workers, county probation, and whenever needed mental health into the stalking case management process. We teach that this can be accomplished in the smallest of police departments. By the way only about 10-12 of all stalking is media related. The vast majority is intimate partnerdomestic violence. However, there are stalkers that never date or have a consentual relationship with their victims. All stalking needs to be investigated and neutralized either via prosecution or by some other means that protects the victim.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Unfortunately, tragedies are often the catalyst for change. The first stalking law in the nation was in part influenced by the stalking and murder of a well-know actress in California. Stalking is still a relatively young crime; this first statute being enacted in 1990. Most communities do not have dedicated stalking services, so the issue is addressed by other local victim service providers such as domestic violence or rape crisis programs. Enhancing awareness on the realities of stalking is the first step, and January, as National Stalking Awareness Month, is an excellent opportunity to begin. Engaging with your local law enforcement and victim service providers to develop programming on stalking, providing resources, collecting data on the prevalence of stalking in your own community, writing letters to the editor of your local paper to raise the issue, etc. We offer a number of sample activities on our web site for stalking awareness month.
I'm the coordinator of a OVW funded project to effect system change for women with disabilities who are victims of interpersonal violence, including stalking. Is there any data regarding women with disabilities who are victims of stalking? What, if anything, is known about whether women with disabilities are at higher risk than women without disabilities?
1.  Michelle Garcia
 This is an area that is still woefully under researched, as are many other issues regarding stalking. Given the level of physical violence experienced by people with disabilities, as well as the established link between intimate partner violence and stalking, it is highly probable that people with disabilities experience significant levels of stalking. However, we dont have exact numbers. We are attempting to develop more resources specifically for victims with disabilities and have developed trainings on this topic. In 2006, we published an article titled, Victims with Disabilities Face Unique Challenges which can be downloaded from our Web site.
2.  Jean Solis
 Hi, Sarah - We have an OVC award that deals with stalking and people with developmental disabilities. I'd love to chat with you about what we've found and to pick your brain. Jean jsarcaurora@aol.com
Hi again, Some of the questions being asked has sparked another question from me. If the court finds individual guilty of stalking, what can the judge mandate the stalker to do besides paying a penalty fee and/or jail time?
1.  Mike Proctor
 As Michelle has indicated what a judge can do at sentencing as well as after concerning a felony conviction of a stalker does depend on the jurisdiction as well as the state the trial took place. In Cal. for example if the judge feels if the stalker committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or gratification he can order that the stalker be forced to register as a sex offender. If the stalker is deemed to be a high risk offender, then at time of parole he or she is placed under the supervision of a high risk supervision team. Unfortunately, the use of this team is contingent on a continuing budget appropriation.
2.  Michelle Garcia
 Again, it will vary by jurisdiction, but in addition to restitution and jail time or probation, a judge could order the offender to have no contact with the victim and other; to bar the offender from engaging others to contact the victim; and/or to receive some type of treatment or intervention, among others. You can check with your local prosecutors office to see what remedies may be available in your community.
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