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University of Iowa News Release

 

Jan. 17, 2007

UI promotes education during National Stalking Awareness Month

Stalking is a serious crime, which affects nearly 1.4 million Americans each year. To help create awareness locally, staff with the University of Iowa Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) are setting up informational tables in conjunction with the designation of January as National Stalking Awareness Month.

RVAP staff members will have special displays in the UI Iowa Memorial Union from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, and 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Jan. 24. During these times, RVAP staff will hand out a variety of informational materials on stalking. They will also have brochures in Spanish.

Free safety whistles, nail files with RVAP contact information and pens with the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline phone number will also be handed out.

Stalking -- typically defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear -- is a criminal offense under the laws of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government. National Stalking Awareness Month is intended to increase the public's awareness of stalking and was established after the death of Peggy Klinke, a stalking victim who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend after repeatedly seeking law enforcement intervention.

Tara Wood, RVAP volunteer coordinator, said that sexual violence is largely under-reported, especially stalking, because the level of danger is sometimes underestimated.

"In 2007, there were six Rape Crisis Line calls pertaining to stalking, and in 2006, there were 10 calls pertaining to stalking," Wood said. "Stalking needs to be taken seriously because of the effects it has on a victim, and the potential for the behavior to escalate. RVAP takes this issue very seriously and encourages folks to call."

Statistics provided by the National Institute of Justice include the following: one in 12 women and one in 45 men will be a victim of stalking in their lifetime; 1,006,970 women and 370,990 men are stalked annually in the United States; 77 percent of female victims and 64 percent of male victims know their stalker; and 87 percent of stalkers are men.

The prevalence of stalking is high, while public awareness remains dangerously low, according to Rachel Luzbetak, RVAP program assistant.

"Stalking is a problem that is often not taken seriously or recognized as a crime," Luzbetak said. "Our hope is that National Stalking Awareness Month will help individuals and professionals become more aware of the danger involved so that when stalking occurs, victims can receive the help they need and offenders can be held accountable."

For more information see http://www.rvap.org or call 319-335-6001. For more information on stalking, visit the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Crime Victims Web site at http://www.ncvc.org/src/.

For more information on RVAP, located at 320 S. Linn St. in Iowa City, visit http://www.rvap.org. The site provides information about statistics, education, victim services and resources. The 24-hour Rape Crisis Line number, at 319-335-6000, offers free and confidential information, support, advocacy and counseling to victim/survivors of sexual assault and their partners, friends, and family members. Trained sexual assault advocates provide information, phone counseling, in-person medical and legal advocacy, and resources and referrals. The Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline is 1-800-284-7821.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rachel Luzbetak, RVAP, 319-335-6001, rvap@uiowa.edu; Lois J. Gray, University of Iowa News Services, 319-384-0077, lois-gray@uiowa.edu