Stalking affects 3.4 million people in the United States each year.
Stalking often leads to more dangerous crimes. 21% of victims are physically attacked by the stalker with 46% of victims reporting their biggest fear comes from not knowing what will happen next.
Stalking always leaves its victims feeling terrified, frustrated, isolated, depressed and vulnerable.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states.
I think most people would agree that the research supports what most people already know. Stalking is a horrible crime affecting the lives of millions of victims, their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Why then are the victims of this crime further victimized by ignorant advertising agencies, TV producers and even friends who choose to use the word as a joke or marketing campaign?
At least once a week I find one of these examples using stalking in a manner that normalizes the behavior in our society. This can be done by applying the term to behavior that would not be considered a crime such as running into a family member at the store (who is not stalking you) to be asked jokingly “what are you stalking me?” With the rise of social media most recently a constant campaign for organizations with a marketing team ignorant to the seriousness of the crime is “Stalk us on Facebook/Twitter/whichever social media platform.”
So that brings me to this question. What crimes are ok to make light of? Domestic violence? Rape? Child abuse? Assault? None of these are ok to make fun or use in ad campaigns that normalize the behavior. The behavior is a crime. It is just that simple. It is a crime with victims whose lives are forever changed.
This is a similar education I give to these organizations using the term for marketing. Pretty compelling, right? Simple. Common sense, but opens the eyes of someone who simply didn’t know better, right? Usually, yes. However, I recently have contacted the Luxor Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas multiple times. I haven’t been the only one to contact them either. Many other supporters of the cause and victims have as well. It’s been weeks since my first contact which would seem like plenty of time to make a change, right? After all, the response I received from their Twitter account that they would be “re-evaluating their creative direction.”
It’s been several weeks now. This is the sign in front of their casino on the Las Vegas Strip visited by millions of tourists every year. I wonder how many of those tourists are victims of stalking or have a close friend/family member that was a victim of stalking.
Just in case the copy above does not convince you the problem of stalking is a real and dangerous one this is a picture of Jodi Sanderholm. Her stalker took her life on January 5, 2007. She was with him for at least 5-1/2 hours and likely knew the entire time that she would lose her life that day.
There are many words in the English language that are not offensive maybe you should grab a thesaurus next time.
UPDATE 8/19/2010: The sign is still up at the Luxor. Luxor advised us via their Twitter account that the design would be changed on 8/12/2010.