It is a crime that affects more than 6.5 million adults each year and yet it often goes unreported. One in six American women are victims and it is a crime that can lead to physical violence, psychological damage, and even death.
We are talking about the crime of stalking.
Recently, President Obama proclaimed the month of January as “National Stalking Awareness Month.” He urged Americans to recognize the signs of stalking and also urged those who are victims to speak out and ask for help.
“Many victims suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia, and in some cases are forced to move or change jobs,” Mr. Obama stated. “Stalking all too often goes unreported, yet it also tends to escalate over time, putting victims at risk of sexual assault, physical abuse or homicide.”
This is the 10th anniversary of “National Stalking Awareness Month.”
In Florida, stalking is defined as “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing or cyberstalking” another person. Basically, stalking involves a pattern of behavior that causes emotional distress to a specific person with no legitimate purpose.
Under Florida law, stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor charge. Under certain circumstances the charge can be bumped up to Aggravated Stalking” which is a third degree felony.
If you believe you are being stalked, Florida law enforcement authorities urge you to document the behaviors of the suspect. You can do this by saving e-mails, photographs, text messages, and letters sent to you by the suspect, for example. If a pattern of stalking is established, you may file for an injunction for protection. You can do this even if here has been no threat of violence or actual violence.
The family law attorneys at Farah & Farah in St. Augustine urge you to get help if you are being stalked. Often, ex-spouses or estranged spouses are victims of stalking. The consequences of stalking can be frightening and, in extreme cases, it can be deadly.
Call law enforcement and let them know you are being stalked. Protect yourself and your loved ones. If you don’t know what to do and need the harassment to stop, don’t hesitate to call Farah & Farah at (800) 533-3555 to learn about your legal options.