Avalon Center focuses on support, education for National Stalking Awareness Month

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The Avalon Center is providing information this month to “help facilitate understanding and support” about stalking. (File photo)
The Avalon Center is providing information this month to “help facilitate understanding and support” about stalking. (File photo)

As January is National Stalking Awareness Month, the Avalon Center in Williamsburg is encouraging Historic Triangle residents to join the fight against stalking through education and victim support, according to an Avalon Center news release.

Stalking is a crime that affected a reported 7.5 million victims in a 12-month period between 2010 and 2011, according to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.”

The Avalon Center is providing information this month to “help facilitate understanding and support” about stalking, the release said. The information is displayed at both public libraries, located at 7770 Croaker Road and 515 Scotland Street in Williamsburg, and on the Avalon Center’s Facebook page.

The theme for Stalking Awareness Month is “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It,” the release said.

Avalon Center works to end domestic and sexual violence by breaking the cycle of abuse through prevention, education, shelter and support services in the Williamsburg area, the release said.

Stalking is also one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationship, according to a report from the American Public Health Association, “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case Control Study.”

“Stalking is not always easily identified or understood. Often victims are experiencing stalking long before they fully recognize that is what is happening. Nearly 60 Avalon clients in 2016 identified with being impacted by stalking behaviors,” said Juanita Graham, Avalon Center director of outreach.

In Virginia about 500 arrests are made for stalking in a year, the release said.

“Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia, yet many victims (male and female) and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact,” the release said.

Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, “Stalking Victimization in the United States.”

One in four victims reports that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices, or hidden cameras, to track the victim’s daily activities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice report.

“Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many stalkers follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making it difficult for authorities to investigate and prosecute their crimes,” the release said.

Additional resources about stalking may also be found here.

Avalon’s Outreach staff is also available to provide training sessions or workshops upon request at 757-258-5022.

In addition to community education, Avalon Center provides numerous free and confidential services to victims of stalking, domestic and intimate partner violence and sexual violence. For more information, contact the Avalon Helpline at 757-258-5051, or visit Avalon’s website.