By AMBER AINSWORTH, Staff Writer
On Wednesday, January 29, the Women’s Resource Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn held a National Stalking Awareness Month event, this January being the tenth anniversary of Stalking Awareness Month.
The evening included the stories of two women that have been stalking victims, as well as a clip of a documentary about one of the speaker’s stalking cases, and shared resources for those affected by stalking.
The first speaker, Jill, spoke on her experience with being stalked by a former romantic partner. It was the first time she has ever presented her story. Jill found herself the victim of her ex-boyfriend for twenty years when their toxic relationship ended and he refused to let her go.
He would sit outside her home, call her, and write her letters, despite her resisting his contact.
After years of living in fear and under the thumb of her former love interest, Jill went on to work for First Step of Wayne County. First Step is a program whose goal is defined on their website as “Prevention of domestic and sexual violence through education, advocacy and appropriate intervention”. Jill works with victims of crimes such as her own, to assist them in getting help and living safely through the incidents.
The second speaker, Harvette, gave her story of being stalked by a stranger who became infatuated with her. While working as a realtor, she handed her business card to a potential client who ended up being interested in more than real estate.
Her ordeal lasted 10 years, while becoming the largest Personal Protection Order case in the state of Michigan and the subject of multiple documentaries.
Harvette has worked to have a bill passed that place GPS tracking devices into tethers that some on probation are required to wear. She is also working to implement a Michigan Stalker Registry, where convicted stalkers would be required to register so that their name would be listed as a stalker, allowing the registry to be obtained online.
Both of the women emphasized the control factor that stalkers strive for and shared resources that victims of stalkers can utilize.
The Women’s Resource Center at UM-Dearborn also has resources that victims of stalking and abuse that can be found on their website: umd.umich.edu/womenscenter.
Despite the month being over, stalkingawarenessmonth.org contains more information on stalking, ways to spread the word about stalking awareness, and additional resources for victims.