Problems at the Equal Justice Foundation (EJF) seem to come in waves. In the last month two senior enlisted men in separate units at Fort Carson were being stalked by ex-wives to the point the women were arrested, an almost unheard of event. Then a freelance writer asked for stories, followed by a producer for Discovery Channel who plans on doing a series of stories on stalking in 2011. And next a 58-year-old woman in Leadville was killed by a next-door neighbor who was stalking her in spite a restraining order.
There are constant complaints from men whose ex-girlfriend or wife took out a restraining order and is now stalking them and getting them arrested, sometimes as often as once or twice a day, or she has trashed their house or apartment, etc. We also hear from women this is happening to.
Now the truth is that virtually everyone, man or woman, who has fallen in love has engaged in what might be termed "stalking" behavior. Admit it, you sent love notes to her. You drove past his house many times to check on him. You followed her home from school to find out where she lived. You called and texted him ten times a day. And that is when the relationship is heating up.
Dr. Michael Conner notes that nearly 90% of all college students who break up will engage in what is called "unwanted pursuit behavior." Pursuit behavior includes writing notes or poetry, giving gifts, making phone calls or texting, contacting friends, following the person or intruding in their life. This can border and easily cross the line and become an obsession.
What researcher's find interesting is that pursuit behavior is normal. If Jane dissolves a relationship with Bob, then it is very common for Bob to pursue Jane as a means to try and restore the relationship, or vice versa. Researchers call this a "relationship repair mechanism." Some people, and even the courts, mistakenly call this stalking. So that creepy boyfriend who keeps calling or sending you email, or the lunachic who persists in texting or calling you after a single date, are not criminals, simply human and behaving in normal courtship rituals however you might resent it.
On any given day, about one out of a thousand people may feel like they are being stalked. But is it criminal? Or have the radical feminists who believe a pillow fight is domestic violence simply established a new beachhead in their war against men?
A lot of people imagine they are being stalked and it seems to be a favorite tactic of women to make false allegations of stalking for vengeance, revenge, or to gain advantage in a divorce, and some men do the same.
Lets take a moment and review what is criminal stalking. Under Colorado law stalking is the willful, malicious and repeated following, harassing, or contacting of another person. Stalking becomes a criminal act when the harassment causes a "reasonable person" to feel fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them. Most states have similar statutes.
So before a tale of love-gone-wrong is considered "stalking" be sure that what you've endured, or are enduring definitely crosses the line into criminal behavior and that you are acting as a "reasonable person." Hysteria and false allegations only serve to mask the real problems.
Note that men and women in love seldom act in a fashion their friends think is reasonable and when love turns to hate it's Katy bar the door. So just because you hate him, or her, does not mean they are stalking you when they try to make amends.
As a start let me present behavior by my ex-wife, who stalked me from 1997 to 2003. She pulled the usual: death threats, broken car windows, slashed and flat tires, pushed over mailbox, phone calls every half hour at all hours of the night and day, parking in front of the house, stolen mail and filed false change of address, false allegations of domestic violence and abuse (she was the violent one), and some other tricks if you've been criminally stalked you will likely relate to.
Thus, anytime death threats are made or property is destroyed, and it can be documented, it seems clear the behavior is criminal. Unfortunately, men often treat these incidents as a joke initially and women commonly react hysterically to often minor incidents. And the justice system is a poor arbitrator even when death threats present a clear and present danger to an individual. And restraining orders are no protection at all and may well make the situation worse.
I know of no quantitative estimates of how common criminal stalking is as distinguished from normal behavior. And what data exist are confused by false allegations that are all too easily made and failure to determine whether the level of events truly rises to the level where a "reasonable person" would be in fear. Typically, in court if you are male, you're guilty as charged and damn due process and the evidence. And evidence of mental disorders in females is virtually certain to be ignored by the judge.
Most stalking incidents are not reported, or such reports are ignored by law enforcement, something any man who has been stalked, and likely many women, will be familiar with. And except for the rare case where a man or woman is killed by a stalker there is little documentation of such incidents.
You may never have been criminally stalked, and known the fear that goes with it, but you are upset by the abuse of current laws. If so, help us fight the injustice by joining the Equal Justice Foundation and volunteering your time and expertise. We certainly are not going to win this without help. And if you know of someone who is being stalked you might pass this along.
If upwards of nine out of ten of the above descriptions fit what you've gone through, and you'd like to put an end to it, one positive step is to try and have your story told. And as we have long pointed out, these cases don't exist unless and until they are documented and published.
Send it to the Equal Justice Foundation. Our sites receive about 2,000 unique visitors a day and we are your best chance to get your story before the public and keep it there. firstname.lastname@example.org and web sites are ejfi.org and dvmen.org.
The third option is a chance to have your story presented on Discovery Health's medical show Dr. G: Medical Examiner. I put this option last because chances are slim they will give men a fair shake and the show is being hosted by an unknown with no discernible credentials or experience except she claims to be a "victim" of stalking. However, if you have a hankering to be on TV contact Amy Brown with Atlas Media Corp. email@example.com. But, in my opinion, the show is more likely to do harm by promoting stalking hysteria than good.
What is required is coverage by media and on the Internet that proposes effective means to deal with stalking. Also required is a restoration of understanding and balance between the harmless "stalking" most people in love engage in and the dangers of criminal stalking.
It is probable your story will be more widely seen on the EJF web site than on the Discovery Channel. But exposure on every medium is essential if sanity is to return to the problem of criminal stalking. And it bears repeating that the problem won't be addressed if there is no documentation of actual cases, as contrasted with radical feminist hysteria.
Start with a timeline of events! When did the problems start? What happened then (dates, times, and descriptions of separate events as best you can recall)? Where did the stalking occur (locations where the stalking took place)? Who's who in the game (credibility is greatly enhanced if you provide names and known contact information for characters involved in this psychodrama, but we won't divulge or pass on that information without permission)? Even if you have your story in narrative form already it is probably useful to go back through it and make sure who, where, what, and when are clearly defined so a reader can easily understand the events.
However, before starting a timeline on your computer be sure your stalker hasn't hacked it or put keystroke logging malware on it! If you can't be sure your computer at work and at home are secure (and I would never make that assumption if you are using a Microsoft OS or a wireless Internet connection) another convenient way to produce a timeline is on 3x5 index cards. In any event, be as sure as possible your stalker can't get to the timeline! And keep backups as there as many instances of stalkers trashing their victim's computer.
What steps did you take to try and avoid your stalker? Added Caller ID on your telephone or got an unlisted number, changed the route you drive to work, installed security devices, stopped your landline phone and only used disposable cell phones, etc.
Have you had to move or change your identity to avoid your stalker? In these situations the EJF recommends a minimum of 500 miles away and 1,000 is much better. Did you change your name or Social Security number?
How long were you, or have you been stalked? We commonly encounter cases where the stalking continues over 6-7 years, as in my case. In our experience women persist in stalking a man far longer than the reverse. We have cases of women stalking men for twelve to fifteen years but your feedback is needed.
OK, so you will have to do some work to get your story told! But do you want criminal stalking to continue, or simply be a convenient means of making false allegations under current laws? If you aren't willing to take the time to document your experience with these frightening events, and even as a former Marine I was frightened by my ex-wife's stalking, then it isn't likely the situation will ever change except for the worse.
The preferred method of transmittal of your story to us is as a plain-text email but a Microsoft Word document is also acceptable. If you can't be sure your computer and email are secure then a paper copy or CD can be mailed to me at the EJF address below.
President, Equal Justice Foundation