January is stalking awareness month and is an annual call to action to recognize and report the crime of stalking.
“I actually spoke last week at the White House Department of Justice with an amazing group of survivors, including Debbie Riddle, who’s the founder of National Stalking Awareness Month, and she founded the month 20 years ago,” said Lenora Claire, a stalking Survivor and activist. “This is 20 years this year when her sister, Peggy Clunky, was murdered. Because stalking so much of it is the threat of the upcoming event, whereas other crimes, you don’t get a warning, right. The crime just happens. This is a crime where with intervention you can stop the harm from happening. But a lot of it is predicated on threats.”
Stalking can have devasting effects on survivors including psychological trauma, fear for personal safety and disruptions to daily life. By raising awareness, communities can better understand the signs of stalking, support survivors and work toward prevention.
“Every state has it, but California has California victims compensation, where if you have the appropriate documentation of your crime, things like restraining orders and arrest, you can get $5,000 of mental health therapy paid for to any therapist of your choice,” Claire said. “And most people don’t realize that these are things that you can get.”
This month is also an opportunity to educate the public about resources available for survivors and the legal consequences for perpetrators. Claire said if you want to see better laws passed to protect survivors of stalking before a violent crime is committed against them, the best way to help is to write to your representatives.