Category Archives: stalking

Perspectives on the Violence Against Women Act and Policy Implications

For more perspectives on the Violence Against Women Act, the policies it encourages and how it impacts victims see this article in Time Magazine.

What’s Wrong With the Violence Against Women Act – Time Magazine
http://nation.time.com/2013/02/27/whats-wrong-with-the-violence-against-women-act/

The article discusses how mandatory arrest policies have impacted reporting of domestic violence and whether this helps reduce domestic violence, increases risk, and impacts some communities differently than others, as well as presenting opinions that less funding should be spent on law enforcement, and more on programs that provide safety and other options to victims aside from pressing criminal charges.

 

Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act should be a priority for Congress

Excellent coverage on domestic violence and the Violence Against Women Act. Sunday, February 23, 2013 article in the Denver Post by Lisa Wirthman.

In Colorado, one in four women — and one in 17 men — are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, according to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA). Domestic violence is equally prevalent here : Nearly half of all murders in Colorado are committed by an intimate partner.

If those numbers seem surprisingly high, consider that violence against women is largely a silent epidemic: For example, 54 percent of rapes go unreported, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). It’s because of that silence that we need a strong and unwavering national voice to speak up for victims who are unable to speak out for themselves.

And yet, for the first time in 18 years, Congress let the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expire in 2012. Although the Senate reauthorized VAWA last week in a bipartisan 78-22 vote, it still faces obstacles from House Republicans. Among the objections to reauthorization are new provisions to strengthen services for other marginalized populations, including immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of violent crimes.

VAWA helps fund services to aid victims of crimes like sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking, and to hold offenders accountable. The act is primarily about safety, not just for victims, but for entire communities as well.

Read the article

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

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.

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

Source

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.

Stalking victim says bill lacks employment protection

Women’s eNews feature article today is Stalking Victim Presses for Employment Protection

An anti-stalking bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee imposes tougher punishment on offenders and expands the definition of the crime to include online privacy intrusions. But one victim says it lacks a crucial component: employment protection.

Read the story

Be aware that stalkers use GPS by cellphone, other devices

Global-positioning systems, called GPS, and other technologies used by phone companies have made it easier for abusers to track their victims. A U.S. Justice Department report last year estimated that more than 25,000 adults in the U.S. are victims of GPS stalking annually, including by cellphone.

Cellphone users don’t have the right to refuse to be tracked by the account holder. Turning off the phone stops the tracking. Cellphone companies will deactivate a tracking function if law-enforcement officials inform them it is being used for stalking. Some carriers say they give untraceable cell phones to domestic violence victims.

See full article Stalkers Exploit Cellphone GPS