Stalking leaves a path of destruction seen only by victims.
And it gets worse because, even though stalking is a crime, few cases are filed or prosecuted.
Clark Inkanish, T.K. Wolf Inc. executive director and vice president of operations, said 17 percent of the Native American women in the U.S. are victims, making that the highest number of victims. Students are second.
Most victims are female, but men also are victimized.
Like any other crime, no one is aware of these problems unless directly affected, he said. Yet, most people in Oklahoma have been hurt by stalkers in some way.
This act affects the economy because a person fears leaving home. This reduces an income that otherwise would be spent in the community where they live or elsewhere.
The list of victims is extensive, he continued, and it varies from college professors to public officials and citizens.
Mental health agencies staff members often find themselves victims of stalkers because of their work.
‘‘We need to educate the community about how to assist victims, Inkanish said. Assets need to be marshaled to make a difference. Stalking victims lose families, children, jobs. They become isolated from their community because people don’t believe what they are saying. They fear they are coming off as being crazy and they personally start believing it.
The act becomes and obsession and one way of gaining control over victims, Inkanish said. Stalkers can cross the line, become violent and kill, but this is a planned action.
Inkanish said he would like to think business people would want to become involved to provide protection against a stalker coming through their door to bother employees.
Hopefully, when that happens they would call police, he added. They need to be aware of employee situations, especially when protective orders are involved. That is when actions generally are triggered that resulting in violence, even murder.
Evidence shows that a stalker often has bonded with a primary care provider and is looking for a mother that no longer is present, Inkanish said. As a result, someone may set himself or herself up as a victim with a kind gesture, a verbal comment such as ‘‘how are you?’’ and the stalker perceives the action as an indication of love or affection.
A stalker can pursue someone for some time and then realize their victim is not going to accept them. That is when violence occurs.
Cases regularly show there has been a sexual relationship with the victim. There also might have been some drug use or some type of chemical dependency that forms a perceived bond in an unstable relationship.
It is difficult to imagine what it is like to be harassed in this manner, Inkanish said. No one ever should underestimate the danger involved.
Stalkers have kidnapped victim’s children. They involve friends and relatives who innocently help with their scheming. This happens when individuals unknowingly pass a message to the victim — “by the way when you go to ….’’
That contact lets the victim know that somehow, the stalker has learned about their planned activities or trips.
Stalkers also will employ private detectives to locate their victim who has fled to another state in an effort to escape their surveillance.
‘‘Yes, stalkers can be anyone, but it is more likely to be someone who is well informed and known in the community,’’ Inkanish said. That adds to their cover because of people’s disbelief.’’
Stalkers come from varied economic backgrounds, Inkanish said. Some have college degrees and hold high positions in business, the community and government. They also might be a person living on the street. There is no set category or definition that immediately would identify a stalker.
There are no brain scans that would point someone out. No studies exist that would single out a brain chemistry isolating the activity.
Unfortunately, stalking often is associated with domestic violence, but that is not necessarily true, he said. Yes, there is violence. Sometimes these incidents end with tragic results when a victim is killed, then the stalker kills himself.
Stalkers become very focused in their planning and most high profile cases involve the use of marijuana, alcohol or methamphetamines.
‘‘We need medical research on this issue, he continued. No one can do all the work alone.
Help is desperately needed.
All kinds of protective orders can be issues, but people and agencies are not responding adequately to treat the victim or looking for the stalker, he said. ‘‘I guess our wish list or focal point is that we could have something to wrap our hands around. It would help put tools in place to treat those folks who are stalkers.
The community needs to be educated about the issue so people can assist in apprehension and prosecution of the stalker. Laws are in place, but resources need to be available so they can be put in jail.
Oklahoma’s stalking laws need to be revisited, he said. England, Australia and California ‘‘are light years ahead of us’’ and a whole lot needs to be done before there is any chance at success.
Inkanish can be contacted at TKWolf7@aol.com.