Stalking laws perpetuate silent threat

Morgan White
Opinion Editor

The amount of time it takes for a stalker to turn their infatuation into something physical that will finally elicit the help from police is filled with anxiety.  You know  that something will happen, and nothing will be done to stop it from happening. Unless a viable threat has been made you will merely just have to deal with the unwanted interaction with the other person. You’ll have to block their phone number each time they buy a new one to keep up with the interaction. You’ll have to fear for your life each time you walk to the car or home late at night after class because there’s a possibility you’ll run into them and there will be no way out of the interaction. You’ll just have to deal with it because those things are not substantial enough to be considered evidence for police interaction.

illustration by annette allen

Any person who on more than one occasion engages in conduct directed at another person with the intent to place, or when he knows or reasonably should know that the conduct places that other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that other person or to that other person’s family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If those are the words of the law, then why is it so hard for a person to make the claims that allows the police to do anything about the issue the stalked person has had in the first place?

Legitimately, you must have been touched by another person before you can issue a protective order against them. That is even if they have been told repeatedly to cease communication with you. Blocking several phone numbers, social media profiles and hanging a “No Trespassing” sign on your residence is your only defense. In order for you to feel safe without being physically harmed you must change your life to end the stalking. The victim should not be driven to these lengths. They should have the ability to have authority figures at least talk to the person, something that would not infringe on the rights of the stalker but would give them a warning that what is being done to combat it is serious and if they continue action will be taken.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime 6.6 million people are stalked per year in the United States. Usually the stalker is stalking a former intimate partner. Seventy-six percent of victims of intimate partner femicide (a term used to describe the murder of women) were stalked by their partner prior to the homicide. Forty-six percent of stalking victims fear not knowing what will happen next. About one in seven stalking victims move as a result of the stalking, something that shouldn’t have to happen to end the unwanted interaction with the stalker.

More than half of female stalking victims were stalked under the age of 25; that means as college students, we are on the cusp of danger right now. Living on campus means that you are entirely too close to the people who could potentially stalk you with the range to do so on a regular basis. It’s commendable of our government that in all 50 states there are laws against stalking. What is not commendable however, is that in less than one-third of these states is stalking considered a felony upon the first offense. If the person is deranged enough in thinking this interaction is perfectly fine, if they are delusional enough to believe that this was meant to be a mere slap on the wrist won’t do a thing. They will continue to do as they have because they lack the wherewithal to realize what they are doing is wrong. The lack the ability to realize that this is by far about as irrational as things can be.

Even if you are given a reasonable fear from the person who is stalking you, what is done by police departments in order to protect your safety? They wait for you to be assaulted. It sounds like a grand idea that even when you fear for what your life, nothing will be done until your fears come to fruition. More needs to be done. Police involvement should not depend on whether a hand has been laid on a person or not. Stalking is a substantial problem.

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