Monthly Archives: January 2013

Stalking Awareness Month – More Facts About Stalking

STALKING VICTIMIZATION

  • 6.6 million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • Using a less conservative definition of stalking, which considers any amount of fear (i.e., a little fearful, somewhat fearful, or very fearful), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men reported being a victim of stalking in their lifetime.
  • The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
  • More than half of female victims and more than 1/3 of male victims of stalking indicated that they were stalked before the age of 25.
  • About 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 14 male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17
  • 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact

Source

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January is the 10th Annual National Stalking Awareness Month

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men in the United States have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime.
  • Stalking generally refers to harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property.
  • The federal government, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories have all enacted criminal laws to address stalking.
  • The legal definition for stalking varies across jurisdictions. For example, state laws vary regarding the element of victim fear and emotional distress, as well as the requisite intent of the stalker.

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Leave Before He Kills You: In Native populations’ struggle to overcome domestic violence, survivors play a pivotal role

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Najaway, a Navajo woman, survived 20 years of domestic violence at the hands of two husbands—one Native, one non-Native. Now in her early 50s, she still can’t get the nightmare out of her head.

“I remember my daughter looking at me after I was beat down and covered with bruises, saying, ‘Mom, you should go away and not come back, because Dad might kill you,’” Najaway recalls. “She was all of six years of age.”

And she is one of the lucky ones. In some communities, Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average. Nearly half of all Native women have experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, according to federal crime and health data.

Despite the 2010 passage of a law intended to stop the violence, the Tribal Law and Order Act, the killings and the beatings continue. In a little over a year, at least two Native women have been violently murdered in New Mexico: one with an ax, and another pushed against the interior panel of a truck and held down until she stopped breathing. The manner in which they were discovered is just as disturbing: One woman’s bones, along with a Bible bearing her name, were found after a dog dug up her shallow grave and dragged the remains to a nearby home. Even when they’re not fatal, the assaults Native women in New Mexico have endured over the past year are haunting: a handicapped woman raped; a woman kicked with a steel-toed boot; another hit with a baseball bat; another shot.

These are just a few of the many examples posted on US Attorney Kenneth Gonzales’ website—the cases in which Gonzales’ office has apprehended the perpetrators. But due to a variety of factors—intersecting federal and tribal justice systems, many victims’ unwillingness to report abuse, a cycle of domestic violence and a bill languishing in Congress—many more continue to roam free.

Still, there is hope. In places where justice cannot reach, survivors are coming out of the shadows to tell their stories, reliving the pain in order to help others avoid similar suffering. Over the past two months, SFR interviewed six Native people—five women and one man—each of whose life has been touched by domestic violence. Individually and together, they’re working to build a long-term solution that heals past abuses, restores traditional practices and funds community programs and services.

Full Story

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EEOC issues new workplace guidelines to protect victims of domestic violence and stalking

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Although the legal system still has a long ways to go in developing better safeguards for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, a recent action by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) signals that the government is taking steps to ensure that employers protect these victims under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

While many people may take exception with the fact that the government is classifying victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking as “disabled”, the reality is that these victims could likely be the subject of discrimination—intentional or unintentional–in the workplace because of their circumstances.

Although nothing new is stated in the EEOC’s recent guidance which is in the form of a fact sheet entitled, “Questions and Answers: Application of Title VII and the ADA to Applications or Employees Who Experience Domestic or Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking”, it signals a clear area of focus for the agency. As such, employers and, more specifically, HR managers, need to reassess their policies and procedures to make certain they are not inadvertently in violation of Title VII or the ADA.

In the new fact sheet, the EEOC provides an extensive list of questions and answers that provide its position with respect to hypotheticals to guide employers and employees alike. As an example, the EEOC explains that the failure to hire an individual because the individual recently received counseling for depression caused by being the victim of domestic abuse could be prohibited conduct. The EEOC also stresses its position that reasonable accommodations must be provided for a disability caused by domestic violence and/or sexual assault—for example, anxiety caused by a sexual assault.

As has been the case with so many EEOC actions over the past year, this latest publication does not explicitly change the law or create new protected characteristics. Rather, it alerts employers that this is an area being scrutinized as the agency continues in its strategic plan of preventing employment discrimination through education and outreach.

So what should employers do to protect themselves in light of this most recent, expanded interpretation?

• Review and update training materials to include examples of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

• Develop or revisit workplace training programs (such as EEO or harassment prevention programs) to ensure that front-line managers and HR professionals are acutely aware of the EEOC’s broad interpretation of who is covered under Title VII and the ADA.

• Understand how the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state medical leave laws could be implicated by issues arising in the workplace regarding domestic or dating violence, sexual assault of stalking.

• Develop a protocol to ensure a safe workplace when notified of a potential domestic or dating violence situation that could impact an employee and/or that employee’s co-workers.

• Review individual circumstances with legal counsel prior to any employment terminations or disciplinary actions that involve victims of these abuses.

For more information on the EEOC’s latest interpretation of employees who could be protected under Title VII and the ADA, visitwww.eeoc.gov//eeoc/publications/qa_domestic_violence.cfm.

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Domestic violence behind many of Utah’s 2012 homicides

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SALT LAKE CITY — The faces of Utah’s 2012 homicide victims are haunting.

Perhaps the most jarring statistic is that half of the more than three dozen killings in Utah last year stemmed from domestic incidents.

The number of domestic violence deaths has reached an “epidemic proportion,” according to the Utah Domestic Violence Council, even though it says such deaths are among the “most predictable and therefore preventable forms of homicide.”

“These horrific crimes affect innocent children, families, and church families as well as entire communities,” its website states.

Peg Coleman, the council’s executive director, said she is seeing more and more violence and hearing “awful stories of desperation.”

“It’s not talked about. It’s seen as more of a family matter and that … keeps people experiencing it in shame. We want to change that and show it’s never OK,” she said.

“Utah’s very foundation is based on supporting and sustaining families. This next year we can all work together to make Utah the safest state in the nation for children and families. I’m hoping we can work together to make that our goal.”

Full story

Note: Some of the cases reported in this article as domestic violence would not be classified that way in Colorado, where domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in which one person attempts to control another through threats or actual use of physical, verbal, or psychological violence or sexual assault on their current or past intimate partner. 

In its legal definition:

  • Domestic violence means an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.
  • Domestic violence also includes any other crime against a person or against property or any municipal ordinance violation against a person or against property, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.

Intimate relationship means a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.

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