Starfishgirl is an emerging non-profit working to provide solace and supportive services to victims who have felt discarded and abandoned.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC, stalking is a public health problem known to tragically affect millions of people in the United States.
Stalking is a gateway crime to greater acts of violence, such as kidnapping, rape, and murder. Gavin De Becker, a highly regarded national security and crime expert, estimates that, before our next breakfast, at least twelve women will be murdered by estranged intimate partners. The startling reality is that 76% of these victims will be stalked for at least one year prior to their murders.
Clearly, stalking victims have good reason to feel fear and terror.
Yet we are witnessing a systemic failure in our country to meet the needs of stalking victims before this crime causes irreversible trauma or escalates to deadly violence. Some of the systemic barriers preventing stalking victims from getting support include the following:
Too often there is significant bias against stalking victims based on sexist, racist, gender and stereotypical assumptions.
This bias is the result of a lack of training and coordination among the law enforcement, legal and mental health professions. Only when these developments have taken place will victims be properly cared for and stalkers be held responsible for their behavior.
Unfortunately, there are very few resources available to assist victims in reclaiming their mental, physical, and financial health. The United States Department of Justice estimates that, of all the grant monies awarded to battered women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, and victims’ advocacy organizations, a mere seven percent is distributed to stalking victims’ assistance programs.
This is alarming news as we of the Starfishgirl Anti-Stalking Campaign ponder the ways in which we can be more effective and best serve stalking victims.
We believe that it is vitally important to implement our counseling program that has been specifically created to serve the needs of stalking victims. Assisting victims with coping strategies, support and empowerment is crucial to the well being of the individuals, of their families, and of the community as a whole. We must also continue and expand our grassroots educational, referral and outreach programs. Finally, we must hold our elected officials, the courts, and police departments accountable to the concerns of stalking victims so that when victims reach out for help, they are not victimized again by ignorance, apathy or bias.
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