LUBBOCK, Texas- Less than two weeks ago, President Biden declared January 2022 “National Stalking Awareness Month,” calling on all Americans to speak out against stalking. He wanted perpetrators to know that this crime will not go unpunished, but a local organization said Tuesday that prosecuting is easier said than done.
“You listen to your West Texas gut. You listen to the hair on the back of your neck. If it stands up, pay attention,” an advocate from Lubbock Victim Assistance Services said about stalking victims who may be in denial or are underestimating their perpetrators.
“It’s disturbing to me when someone would put that much effort, time and energy into knowing what you’re doing, where you are [and] everything about you,” Steven Garcia, the coordinator of community education for Women’s Protective Services, said.
Oftentimes, stalkers are former intimate partners, Lubbock Victim Assistance Services said. In the last 28 years, the organization’s executive director said she has only seen one case where the stalker did not have a previous intimate relationship with the victim.
A stalker is manipulative, crafty, sneaky and “knows how to come right up to that line and not cross it,” Pam Alexander-Schneider, the executive director of Lubbock Victim Assistance Services, told KLBK News. “He makes the victim look like she is crazy.”
She said that is one of the reasons that stalking can be a difficult crime to prosecute.
“[A stalker] driving down your street 15 times is not a crime,” Alexander-Schneider explained.
However, patterns of behavior that cause someone to fear for their life could be criminal under Texas law.
“Document everything. Write it down,” Garcia recommended.
Taking detailed notes about the time, location and details of the incident, including how the perpetrator made you feel, could prompt law enforcement to act on the situation.
“We really need to lay it out [so that] if a stranger were to read this, they would be alarmed,” Garcia said about documentation. “If nothing is on record or on file, it’s a ‘he said, she said’ [situation].”
Lubbock Victim Assistance Services and Women’s Protective Services are just two organizations in the Lubbock area that can help victims of stalking. They also assist in creating personalized safety plans that outline preventative measures you can take.
With or without preventative measures, when someone is at the receiving end of a stalker’s behavior, “it’s not their fault,” Garcia stressed.
Alexander-Schneider recommended victims think about everything their stalkers (especially former intimate partners) have access to, like passwords, locks, and schedule- and make necessary changes.
“Change up what you do because stalkers all [rely] on, ‘this is where she’s gonna be this time of day,'” she explained, adding that stalkers like consistency.
However, stalking often escalates, which is why you shouldn’t wait to act, Garcia said. He added, stalkers tend to escalate when they feel they’ve lost control or have been slighted.
“If the stalking gets out of control, have a family member or friend with you at all times because stalkers are cowards. They’re not going to confront somebody if there’s a group of people around you,” Alexander-Schneider said.
Resources in the community that may be helpful to victims of stalking include:
Women’s Protective Services– can help stalking victims create safety plans, file for protective orders; offers emergency shelter, advice, advocacy and much more
Lubbock Victim Assistance Services– can help stalking victims create safety plans, file for protective orders; provides advocacy, advice, information and much more
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas– can help obtain protective orders
Legal Aid Society– can offer advice to domestic violence and stalking victims and assist with protective orders
District Attorney’s Office (Lubbock)- can help with criminal prosecution and protective orders
Lubbock Police Department– call if in immediate danger; assists with legal and criminal matters
Lubbock Sheriff’s Office– call if in immediate danger; assists with legal and criminal matters
National Stalking Helpline– “The National Stalking Helpline gives practical information, support, and advice to victims of stalking,” according to the website.