Last month, President Barack Obama proclaimed January 2011 as National Stalking Awareness Month to raise awareness of stalking and to offer support to stalking victims and survivors. While stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, many people underestimate its effects and consequences. President Obama acknowledged our heightened awareness of stalking and its prevalence since Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994; however, he noted that such criminal behavior is still often treated as being harmless.
The National Stalking Awareness Month website provides educational material for the public and resources for stalking victims. The website notes that unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts—a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause him or her fear. Often, stalking behaviors may be understandable only to the stalker and victim, and appear harmless to others not familiar with the situation, making it difficult to recognize, investigate and prosecute.