Stalking “Breaking the Silence” Part I 

Every year millions of people are reported to be victims of stalking. According to a 2009 report from the Department of Justice nearly three and a half million Americans were stalked in a 12-month period…It’s a crime that experts say is serious and in some cases can turn deadly. Tonight, we begin a two part series on stalking…TV-5 News Central Maine Bureau Chief Adrienne Bennett is on the story and she joins us from our Waterville Newsroom with more…The statistics on stalking don’t paint the entire picture of how prevalent the problem is, but what we do know is that stalking is real and there are ways to keep yourself safe. (WABI TV5 NEWS Script) Unidentified Female: “It first started I found some photos that was taken of myself that I was unaware of. Splice Whoever this person was figured out where I lived.”According to the Department of Justice persons 18 to 24 experience the highest rates of stalking…This woman who wishes to remain anonymous, who we’ll call Karen, was an unsuspecting victim until photos and other disturbing things ended up at her door…Karen: “Everything just feels like it’s been ripped out. I felt so violated.”The stalking lasted weeks. Karen called the police, but because there was no actual crime committed there was little they could do. Karen: “I’m a very social person and while this was going on I didn’t want to leave my apartment. I didn’t want to go out with friends. Some of my girlfriends attempted to take me out one night and a person accidentally bumped into me and I basically went into a panic attack because I automatically thought that someone was grabbing and it was that person.” (Full Graphic)There are seven types of harassing or unwanted behaviors consistent with stalking, and individuals who experience two or more on two or more separate occasions are classified as a stalking victim. However, data from the Department of Justice shows that women are at higher risk and approximately sixty percent do not report the crime… Julia Colpitts: “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t men that have serious concerns about their own safety or quality of life.” Julia Colpitts is the director of the Coalition to End Domestic Violence. Julia Colpitts: “There are current cases, yes where people are being stalked. One of the things we say to victims who have already been identified as victims of domestic violence is that if you feel in fact that someone knows too much about you then you’re probably right.”Colpitts says good self defense starts with a personal safety audit…Julia Colpitts: “A safety audit is a simple way of taking a look at the world around you. Primarily in four zones.” SPLICE :49 The first of those zones being to look at your own home. The second, to take a good look at your workplace, at your school, at the places you engage in the outside world. The third is to look hard at your relationships. The other zone is newer for us to think about and that’s the whole zone of social networking and exposure to technology.” nat “N, no, no!”For some, taking safety into their own hands means knowing how to protect themselves…Here at this self defense class students are learning about awareness, prevention and hands-on trainingRAD stands for Rape Aggression Defense System – Instructors Meg Hatch and Jen Weaver offer the program. Jen Weaver: “Primarily we’re hearing about the harassment, the email correspondence, facebook harrassment, the coming to their work place repeatedly, following them when they’re coming to and from work.”Meg Hatch: “I think it’s a lot bigger than most people are aware of and certainly for survivors of sexual assault I think that stalking is almost always part of that equation. Trusting your gut is a big thing that we teach here, trust that thing in the pit of your stomach that says this feels dangerous because we have that survival mechanism for a reason and it’s usually right.”During this report we also found out that the number of women taking part in firearm safety courses is on the rise…One local instructor told TV5 News that he’s seen a significant increase during the last three years. he says his classes are often times now fifty percent women…Tomorrow night we’ll take a look into how technology is playing it’s role in stalking…A closer look at cyberstalking with insight from one of the state’s top experts. For more information on the RAD self defense course contact Jen Weaver at the Waterville Police Department at 680-4700 or at [email protected]