Is There A Link Between Stalking And Sexual Assault?
Stalking And Sexual Assault: The rise in sexual assaults around the country is on the rise, and the Dallas PD has started a sexual assault awareness campaign to help educate a potential victim, so they do not become a statistic and posted the following: Walking home after drinking can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
- Walk with friends or take a cab
- Carry your cell phone or pepper spray in your hand as you walk
- Always be aware of your surroundings
Always be aware of your surroundings
It’s the third bullet I want to expand on, being aware of your surroundings. I grew up in a town about 50 miles from New York City in a suburb on Long Island. I can remember reading the NY Daily News police pages and noticed many crimes committed started with the victim being stalked. So I wanted to see if there is a link between stalking and sexual assaults. Let’s begin with a brief description of stalking.
What is Stalking?
A stalker tries to control his or her victim through behavior or threats intended to intimidate and terrify. A stalker can be an unknown person, an acquaintance, or a former intimate partner. A stalker’s state of mind can range from obsessive love to obsessive hatred. A stalker may follow a victim off and on for a period of days, weeks, or even years.
A stalking victim feels reasonable fear of bodily injury or death to self or a family or household member or property damage. Stalking can be perpetrated by the stalker or by someone acting on her/his behalf. Stalking can take the form of verbal threats or threats conveyed by the stalker’s conduct, threatening mail, property damage, surveillance of the victim, or following the victim.
The stalker may, on more than one occasion:
- Follow the victim and/or victim’s family or household members,
- Vandalize the victim’s property inflict damage to property by vandalizing the car,
- Harming a pet or breaking windows at the victim’s home make threatening calls, or send threatening mail
- Drive-by or park near the victim’s home, office, and other places familiar to the victim.
Ten Excellent Safety Measures
- Be Alert and aware of your surroundings, the people, and things happening around you.
- Vary Routes of travel when you come and go from work or home.
- Park Securely and in well-lit areas. Ask someone to escort you to your car.
- Be Aware of vehicles following you. If you are followed, drive to a police station, fire department, or busy shopping center and sound the horn to attract attention.
- Alert Managers or security at your place of business
- Have a security check made by law enforcement of your home to ensure your home can be locked safely. Secure all doors and windows in both your home and vehicle.
- Maintain an unlisted phone # and Caller ID for your phone.
- Do not dismiss any threats, written or verbal. Call the police or sheriff’s department and save any documentation.
- Maintain Privacy never give out personal information to anyone where the information can be overheard and set Facebook, MySpace, and other networking websites to private. Remove all phone numbers, addresses, etc., from as many items as possible.
- Develop a Safety Plan for yourself and your family members in case of emergency. Decide on a safe place to meet and someone to call if problems do arise.
Stalking and Sexual Assault
- 2% of stalking victims were raped/sexually assaulted by their stalker
- 31% of women stalked by their intimate partner were also sexually assaulted by that partner
- The victim is unlikely to know this person is stalking her until the stalker chooses to let her know.
- A stalking man was arrested outside her apartment after she observed him & called the police.
- A woman recently found her bathing suit taped to the windshield of her car.
- On another occasion, she found some of her undergarments draped on the car’s mirror.
- 1 week before the arrest, the victim found cartridge casings from a handgun taped to her car’s window.
FBI Research and Interviews with convicted rapists in prison
General pattern for rape:
- Targeted women
- Watched them over time
- Waited for opportunity when a woman was vulnerable
In other words, the convicted rapist was stalking the victim.
Implications of the Undetected Rapists
The Typical Rapist:
- Does not use a weapon
- Uses instrumental, not gratuitous violence
- Has access to consensual sex
- Comes from all racial and ethnic groups
- Is not mentally ill
- Premeditates & plans his attack
- Uses multiple strategies to make the victim vulnerable
- Uses alcohol deliberately
- Increases violence as needed
Common Characteristics between Incarcerated and Undetected Rapists
- Angry at women
- Need to dominate women
- Believe in rape myths
- Hold hyper-masculine attitudes
- See “intimate” violence as normal
- See women as objects to be conquered
- Have deficits in empathy
Similarities between non-stranger and stranger rapists:
- Many rapists are serial rapists
- Rape is usually planned in advance
- Victim’s accessibility was a primary factor in the rapist’s decision
- Victim’s appearance had little or nothing to do with the rapist’s decision
The interviews with the men revealed:
- Rapist feels anger, not empathy, when a victim resists.
- Rapist minimizes and sanitizes his violence.
- Women are “targets” & “prey”
- Women are “staked-out”
Rapes were preceded by:
- Following or Surveillance
- Information gathering
- Threatens the victim (Implicit or explicit)
- Attempts to frame the incident
- Maintain social contact
- Approach/Engagement Calling/texting/emailing
- Showing up at class/residence/work
What benefit is there to make a connection between stalking and sexual assault?
- Validation of Victims’ Experiences
- Places blame solidly on the perpetrator
- Enhanced opportunities for intervention
- Increased opportunities for offender accountability
Every 2 minutes, another American is sexually assaulted.
Almost half of these victims are under 18, and 80% are under 30.
Three ways to reduce your risk of sexual assault
Travel in packs
When you got out, go in a group. Check-in with each other & leave together. Don’t be isolated with someone you don’t know or trust.
Trust Your Instincts
If a situation feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably is.
Don’t Feel Obligated
To do anything you don’t want to. “I don’t want to” is always a good enough reason. Let’s work together and do our part to help as many innocent victims as we can.