3.4 million people are stalked each year. 80% of domestic violence victims have been stalked before they are murdered.
Ms. Welch was stalked for 12 years until her stalker committed suicide to avoid federal prosecution. Her story is being featured tonight on the “Dangerous Games” episode of Stalked: Someone’s Watching on Investigation Discovery. Comcast doesn’t carry Investigation Discovery, but you can click here to find out if you’ll be able to watch tonight at 10:30 PM. “Dangerous Games” will be rebroadcast on February 22 at 1:30 AM and on February 27 at 7:30 PM:
Single mother Karen Welch gets a mysterious call on Christmas Eve. At first, she thinks nothing of it, but before long, she’s getting dozens of hang-up calls every day. Follow Dr. Michelle Ward through this shocking game of cat and mouse.
Ms. Welch gave additional insights into the “Dangerous Games” documentary on her blog and on Facebook:
The segment includes Marlboro Police Sgt. Ross Yenisey who not only wrote the NJ stalking law [with Manalapan Chief Brown] for me based on my case of third party stalking but also worked with the FBI to apprehend the third party stalker. Also on camera is my NY attorney Brian Sullivan who rode shot gun with me guiding me through the legal system and strategizing the game of cat and mouse. Last but not least, thank you to my dear friend Lisa Tischendorf whose endless support has kept me sane through the insanity.
Unfortunately, the law didn’t help me because the Monmouth County prosecutors office refused to use it explaining that I had not been physically harmed – yet. Thank God for the FBI who intervened and got the stalker. Stalker committed suicide Jan. 2010 to avoid facing federal prosecution. Next project: NJ needs to establish a protocol to investigate stalking and DV. Victims shouldn’t have to die to get help.
January, 2011 Was the First National Stalking Awareness Month
Ms. Welch asked me to promote the first National Stalking Awareness month in January, but it was an exceedingly chaotic month for me, and I forgot. I feel horrid about this because I know how difficult it is to get someone like President Barack Obama to take action:
Persistent stalking and harassment can lead to serious consequences for victims, whose lives may be upended by fear. Some victims may be forced to take extreme measures to protect themselves, such as changing jobs, relocating to a new home, or even assuming a new identity. Stalking can happen to anyone, and most victims are stalked by someone they know. Young adults are particularly vulnerable, and women are at greater risk for stalking victimization than men.
Stalking can be a difficult crime to recognize. The majority of survivors do not report stalking victimization to the police, in part because perpetrators use a variety of tactics to intimidate and harass their victims. Increasingly, stalkers use modern technology to monitor and torment their victims, and one in four victims report some form of cyberstalking — such as threatening emails or instant messaging — as part of their harassment.
Investigation Discovery Created Stalking: Someone’s Watching
In January, Investigation Discovery announced that it had created six episodes of Stalking: Someone’s Watching. Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of Investigation Discovery, said in a press release:
Nearly 80 percent of women who were murdered by an intimate partner were stalked by that partner prior to their murder, so dismissing stalking as a nuisance can be a grave mistake for victims and law enforcement. In connection with National Stalking Awareness Month and ID’s ongoing commitment to support the Department of Justice’s commemoration of the Violence Against Women Act, we hope that STALKED: SOMEONE’S WATCHING will help to raise awareness of the dangers of stalking, provide effective measures to protect oneself and inform communities about the need for stronger stalking laws.
The series is hosted by Dr. Ward, who is a stalking survivor. These are her tips for people who are experiencing stalking:
- Contact law enforcement immediately.
- Keep a detailed log of all interactions between you and your alleged stalker.
- Document everything and continue to report new incidents to the police department.
- Record and save any phone calls and voicemails from your alleged stalker.
- Try to establish a restraining order or personal protective order, if possible.
- Do not, under any circumstances, initiate any contact with your alleged stalker.
- Inform your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers about your alleged stalker, including sharing photos or descriptions of the person and his or her car.
- Use a private post office box rather than your home address.
- Attain an unpublished and unlisted phone number, reject blocked phone calls and do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize.
- Try not to have a predictable daily and weekly schedule.
- Alter driving routes, as well as walking or running routes, and try not to travel alone.
- Carry a mobile phone with you whenever possible.
- Develop a safety plan.
- Keep handy the phone numbers of assisting law enforcement agencies and the personnel assigned to your case.
- If your alleged stalker is incarcerated, request notification of his or her release.
I have added Ms. Welch’s blog to my Silent No More blogroll for the convenience of people who need to create a stalking safety plan or survivors who want to follow her lead.