Archive for Friday, January 25, 2008

Groups call for crackdown on stalking

January 25, 2008


— Groups working to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence said Thursday that state law against stalking needs to be revised so that violators can be more easily prosecuted.

"Stalking is often something that is part of the domestic violence survivors' experience," said Sarah Terwelp, of Women's Transitional Care Services in Lawrence.

Terwelp and other advocates gathered in the Statehouse to lobby for laws and funding aimed at reducing domestic violence.

"If all domestic violence were reported, it would show that domestic violence is the most often committed crime in our state and nation," said former Attorney General Bob Stephan, who is chairman of the Governor's Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.

In Kansas, 10 percent of adult women report being victims of domestic violence and 30 percent of Kansas women say they know someone other than themselves who is a victim, according to the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

On the issue of stalking, officials said Kansas law enforcement reported only 183 stalking cases in the past year, while more than 4,000 protection from stalking orders were filed in Kansas courts.

Sandy Barnett, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said this indicates that the law may be too cumbersome.

Officials said that in Kansas, to prove someone guilty of stalking, it must be proven that the person was a credible threat. But most states, they said, have an easier threshold: simply that the defendant's course of conduct put people in fear of their safety.

Nationally, one in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime. Four out of five women stalked by a current or former partner will be assaulted by that partner, according to statistics.

And three out of four people killed by their partner had also been stalked, the coalition said.

Stephan said he would like to see Kansas law changed so that when a crime occurs in the context of domestic violence, that designation is attached to the case and defendant.

Sarah Jane Russell, executive of GaDuGi SafeCenter in Lawrence, said advocates also are concerned about a recent 11 percent cut in federal funds to programs that provide basic safety services to victims of sexual and domestic violence.

She said she hoped the Legislature would help replace those dollars with state funds.


Danimal 10 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, I don't get KS. We never look to other states to see what historically has worked elsewhere, we always try to find our own dysfunctional solutions.

Krakatau 10 years, 4 months ago

There are many issues facing victims of crime, esp. domestic violence. I have copied a couple of items for easy reading and will also include a link to the website on this article - Double Jeapordy - essentially, the article addresses how women (or any abuse victim) is often not only abused by a batterer but terminated at their place of employment, hence "DOUBLE JEAPORDY"

Many domestic violence victims are often fired when their employer learns about their violent situation through physical injuries, gossip in the office, or harassment by the batterer in the workplace. Advocates are also working to address another gap in employment protections for victims of domestic violence by creating a right of action for victims who are terminated just because of their status as victims. The Victims' Employment Rights Act (VERA) is one of several proposals to be included in the second Violence Against Women Act addressing women's continued employment and economic security in the face of violence. VERA would prohibit employers from taking or threatening to take adverse job actions, including demotions or suspensions, dismissals, involuntary transfers or from imposing any other losses of pay or benefits against an employee based on her status, experience, or condition as a crime victim.

Recognizing the limited options available for domestic violence victims, advocates are working to enact federal and state legislation that would afford victims of domestic violence leave from work to seek legal assistance, counseling, or to terminate the relationship without fear of losing their jobs.

Analyzing these statistics and translating them into specific examples of workplace problems suffered by domestic violence victims clarifies the need for increased employment protections. A victim of domestic violence often requires medical attention and counseling for physical or psychological injuries caused by battering. Obtaining a restraining order often necessitates time off from work to appear in court during work hours. In addition, a victim may be harassed or attacked by her batterer at her job and consequently be forced to quit her job for her own safety or the safety of others at work, or she may simply be fired.

Advocacy groups continue to work on this issue along with state and federal legislative initiatives.

Horace 10 years, 4 months ago

Good idea. Women should just be able to go in and say they are in fear, and the guy should be convicted with his life ruined.

mytake 10 years, 4 months ago

Let's hope the University of Kansas is paying attention to this. Wouldn't it be nice if they would start practicing Civil and Human Rights to their employees found in these situations?

mytake 10 years, 4 months ago

How horrible for you to make an assumption about "DV women" - you really have no idea do you? I bet you are the same person who says 'when a woman gets raped, what was she wearing? She probably inticed him."

tvc 10 years, 4 months ago

I was stalked by a fellow tenant, and the Management of my Property here in the Midwest refused to let me move to another of their properties or break lease. We need to change the laws to protect women. I know Oregon allows a tenant to break lease if they have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. I reported the tenant to the police several times after my management company did very little. However, knocking on my door at 3 in the morning, leaving roses on my door step, following me, and digging through my trash are not crimes. Even if I got an order of protection, I would be his word against mine unless I was able to record it.

Krakatau 10 years, 4 months ago

To address Smitty's 'concern' - the process of 'accusing someone of stalking' is not easy and criteria are put in place to ensure that does not happen. In almost all, if not all, jurisdictions when someone fills out a stalking order, they must provide a minimum of two experiences of such activity (or proof) involving the same person within a specified time frame, a reason why they are afraid, and why they want the order. It must then go before a Judge. It is not an easy process and it is overwhelming to someone usually already in a bad situation and terrified. Many women (and sometimes it's men) simply won't fill one out for fear that once the stalker is served with the papers (providing the Judge even approves the order) they will become worse to deal with. If the orders are there, in many instances it further depends on the law enforcement in the area or state (as in the differences b/w KS and MO) and how those officers will react and enforce the order.

The cycle of abuse is complex and the ignorance and indifference of people, employers, and sometimes even law enforcement will and does only perpetuate the situation.

Krakatau 10 years, 4 months ago

Smitty -

Mentality of abuse victims? I find your wording...well, alarming. To generalize a whole segment of society is not good. And if I misunderstand your intended thought, please correct me.

If the Judge does not see validity to a claim, I can assure you he/she will not issue an order. Criterion must be meet first and foremost.

I have one on one experience in assisting people in these situations, and we have 'questions' aimed at deterring any false claims. Then after passing the initial stage, it takes an average of 2 hours to fill out paperwork and then the additional time it takes to visit with the Judge and plead the case.

Same sex, male v female, female v male, as far as my experience, has all been handled equally with the criterion set in place. I am not sure what Douglas County is like, but I speak from experience in the county were I worked. One much bigger and one much busier in the DA's office than here (Douglas County). This county is very committed to this cause and that is why they have so many checks and balances set in place when someone comes in to file a protection from abuse or stalking order.

Yes, the are areas of that can be improved, but I do hate to see anyone put down the efforts that currently exists for such a serious national issue.

Krakatau 10 years, 4 months ago

Smitty -

Just so you know, I have turned away many that have come to fill out paper work for a stalking and/or protective order. The problem you mention does exist sometimes, but I find that usually those individuals are 'found out' before it gets too far in the process or goes before the Judge.

been_there 10 years, 4 months ago

A friend of mine had an ex that used to make death threats and hang around to make his presence known. Any time he did anything she could call the police about, he would run to LMH and check himself into the mental ward and the police would drop it saying there was nothing further they could do. Then he would call from the hospital and make more threats. Even though she recorded the calls no one could do anything. I hope there is something they can do to close this loop hole. Calls to Bert Nash where he went for therapy were of no help until her lawyer had a talk with them. Two weeks later his doctor called her and unwillingly told her he was required by law to notify her and her husband that they could be in danger so they were able to take some precautions.

Does anyone know if this is still a law? If so it could be helpful to someone being stalked if the stalker is in therapy. I'm sure they would have to force the issue with the doctor like my friend had to.

vinividivici 10 years, 4 months ago

If a man or woman does not want a particular person to have contact with them, for whatever reason, that should be their right. If the other person does not respect these wishes, it is harassment. As opposed to tightening up on false claims, why not broaden the reasons why someone can file a restraining order, and persecute whomever of the two chooses to break it.

Paul R Getto 10 years, 4 months ago

"Recognizing the limited options available for domestic violence victims, advocates . . ." Mentality of abuse victims? I find your wording:well, alarming..."

The first comment summarizes the problem victims face; there are always more victims than resources and people die as a result. The second comment is insulting, as the correspondent pointed out. Please, never pass judgement on another's terror and pain. All systems can be "worked" (read the bible, any good history or the Journal World tomorrow) but those in need still get help and the charlatans are exposed. We are judged, individually and collectively, by how we treat those in need and pain.

busymom 10 years, 4 months ago

"recent 11 percent cut in federal funds to programs that provide basic safety services to victims of sexual and domestic violence"

I wonder where those funds were re-allocated to. IF it was to help out in the checks everyone is going to get to "help" the economy, I don't want mine. Keep it where it is.

BigPrune 10 years, 4 months ago

I remember hearing a story about a guy who dated a girl for a couple of weeks. They saw each other daily then she totally blew him off. He called her a couple of times and she never returned his calls. She lived in an apartment complex off a main street. It just happened to be the route the guy had to traverse to get to and from work. She saw his car drive by on the main road everyday. She reported he was stalking. He got arrested and sentenced to.... I can't remember exactly... but it was like 5 years in prison for stalking.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 10 years, 4 months ago

I did some volunteer work with the Battered Women's Task Force in Topeka. My job was to explain and take the victims through the experience with the court when they obtained their protection order. I had to leave many times before they actually went to court, but another volunteer took over for that. It was something that brought me great joy being able to do, especially since I was quite familiar with the process. Being stalked is a terribly frightening experience, and I do think the law needs to be changed. I can't think of anyone better to head up the effort than Bob Stephan, who I have great respect for. Thank you, Lynn

mom_of_three 10 years, 4 months ago

The article doesn't say anything about the sponsor of the bill, or why she sponsored it.
The bill is in direct response to the death of Jodi Sanderholm, who was killed by a dance team stalker.
Of course, the guy is going on trial, and hasn't been convicted (yet).

Krakatau 10 years, 4 months ago

An abuse victim is also very strong to go thru a very intimidating, overwhelming, and complex situation and see it through. With all due respect Smitty, I am really puzzled why you seem to use the words "victim mentality" as if it is something negative and shameful?

It almost sounds as if you are saying it is now the victims fault that there is a mandatory arrest law because they are fearful, insecure, and lack self confidence?

In my work, I have seen "poor" people come in, local celebrities, and people working in Fortune 50 companies who are literally shaking in their boots. I have seen mothers and fathers come in trying to protect their son or daughter who is being threatened and/or abused at school. I have also seen parents come in seeking orders to grant protection from their own child.

Feeling scared and insecure when you find yourself in a situation wrought with fear, threats and intimidation, is a normal human response and not one in which to be ashamed.

Have you ever been the victim of a crime in any way, shape, or form? I hope not.

Can you honestly judge someone or a part of society when you do not know their particular set of circumstances or the history of their situations?

I respect your points of view, however, to blame the victim in such a round about way is just part of the common ignorance of society in relation to this problem.

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