By Ben Sherman, Fort SillJanuary 26, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- This is the conclusion of a two-part series that focuses on patterns of abusive behavior and what can be done to stop this crime.
Last week's article pointed out that stalking is a crime in all 50 U.S. states and territories. And for Soldiers, stalking is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But, for many victims of this crime, it is hard to recognize the signs of stalking.
There is not always a single, easily identifiable crime committed against the victim. Stalkers often harass and torment their victim with excessive phone calls and text messages, unannounced and uninvited visits to their workplace or home, and it often escalates to vandalism, burglary, assaults and homicide if not dealt with. Stalkers are now using electronic devices such as video and digital cameras, computer software, audio recording devices and GPS devices to track their victims. The stalker's goal is control and fear.
Lisa Jansen-Rees, Fort Sill Family Advocacy Program manager, recalled several clients that Family Advocacy assisted. "The only place they were 'allowed' to go on their own was the commissary and then they had to produce the receipts that showed how long they were there," she said. "It was not unusual for there to be a 'roll-through' by the controlling partner to make sure their vehicle was there. So all of those manipulative, stalking behaviors tie together in order to control the victim."
"Victims don't want to get people in trouble," said Leslie Watts, abuse prevention specialist. "They just want the stalking to stop. They want a third-party way of making this person stop this behavior without having law enforcement or command know about it. But that is not likely to happen."
In addition to offering advocacy for victims of stalking and domestic abuse, the Family Advocacy Program emphasizes preventing these crimes in the first place. The staff has developed programs for teaching Soldiers the elements of a healthy relationship, like mutual respect, good communication, interdependent decision making, trust and honesty to stop the cycles of violence.
"The CG recognizes that you don't grow 'right' by focusing on 'wrong'. He wants us to mentor, coach and teach 'what right looks like.' One of the things we know is that in healthy relationships, good communication, trust and honesty make the relationship strong and lessen the likelihood of stalking ever occurring," Jansen-Rees said.
If any Soldier, civilian, dependent or partner of a Soldier feels they are being stalked, they should call the police at 911. Do not underestimate the danger of stalking. Sadly, over 54 percent of all women who die from domestic violence had reported being stalked to the police in the previous 12 months before they were murdered. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
The National Stalking Hotline at is 800-394-2255. For more information on preventing stalking go to www.ncvc.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.