Steven J. David, a 53-year-old Walworth man, was arrested in Sheboygan County today, for allegedy stalking his ex-girlfriend over a period of 2 years. If convicted of felony stalking, David could face up to 18 months in prison (Sheboygan Press, 2011).
According to the criminal complaint:
The complainent, a 36-year-old Sheboygan County woman, informed police that she had worked for David in 2007. In 2008, the two began dating; in February, 2009 the two began to have problems according to the woman. Apparently David felt that she wasn’t spending enough time with him and therefore began showing up unexpectedly. Allegedly, David’s unwanted appearances even prompted the woman’s college to ban him from the campus.
In April 2009, the woman states that she attempted to end the relationship with David and in June 2009 sent a certified letter requesting that he have no further contact with her or her family; and when he continued to persue her, she obtained a temporary restraining order in August 2009. However David did not respect her requests and in the months followed showed up at her work; followed her numerous times; informed her that he had a private investigator following her; drove past her home repeatedly; and filed a civil lawsuit against her, claiming that she owed him money.
What is Stalking?
While many are familiar with the term “stalking,” this intrusive behavior was not considered criminal until the 1990’s. Passed initially in the state of California, this crime was associated most often with obsessed fans that would follow and harass the famous movie stars. Today, it has been reported that 1 in 12 women, and 1 in 45 men, find themselves victims of a stalker.
According to Petrocelli (2007), “like many other crimes associated with domestic violence, the actors become bolder and more violent if they are not stopped early. In more than 75 percent of attempted or completed female homicides by intimates, the offenders stalked the victim in the year before the murder.”
The University of Texas defines stalking as: “An abnormal or long-term pattern of threat or harassment that: (a) is directed repeatedly toward a specific individual; (b) is experienced as unwelcome or intrusive, and (c) is reported to trigger fear or concern.” While this is a seemingly ‘clear cut’ definition, often law enforcement personnel have a difficult time labeling one’s behavior as stalking, since many of the perpetrators behaviors seem innocent, ex. sending flowers, leaving love notes and presents. However, Petrocelli (2007) cautions that stalking must be “defined by the effect on the victim. It is not just the act but the way that the act impacted the victim.”
Stalking Behaviors Cause Victims:
- To live in a constant state of stress, anxiety, and fear that their perpetrator’s behaviors will escalate, causing them to be physically or sexually assaulted;
- To become hyper-vigilant and constantly “on edge” because they do not know when, where, or how the next attack will come;
- To have difficulty with other personal relationships, whereas:
- 71% of those in romantic relationships report that stalking causes conflict in which their current partner feels jealous or intimidated by the stalker;
- 63% report a loss of friendships, most often caused by the victim’s fear of attending social events or because friends felt the victim was not doing enough to deter the stalker.
- Professional Issues, whereas 38% of stalking victims report that they had missed work or school as result of being stalked, some even changing jobs or schools in order to hide from their stalker.
- To experience psychological disturbances because they felt helpless and were at a loss as to what to do to end their victimization.
For more info, please see stalkinghelp.org
It is estimated that only 50% of stalking victims report these incidents to the police. Petercelli (2007) suggests that most victims “are unsure if the police can help them and often are unsure if they have even been a victim of a crime. Victims also fear that reporting an incident to the police will initiate retaliation by the actor.” Unfortunately, most stalkers will not stop their intimidating behavior voluntarily; in contrast, the majority only tends to escalate in severity over time. In the above aforementioned case, it took David’s victim over 2 years to file an official complaint with the police department. David, like many other stalkers, failed to accept her lack of interest in continuing the relationship and showed no regard for the temporary restraining order placed against him nearly 1-½ years prior. Had she not filed this complaint, David’s intrusive behaviors would likely have continued indefinitely.
Where to Get Help: Links
Are You Being Stalked? Tips For Protection
End Stalking in America
National Center for Victims of Crime – Cyberstalking
Oregon Department of Human Services – Stalking
Stalking Victims Information Resource Page
Stalking Victims Sanctuary
Survivors of Stalking