Amy Clark, Stalking Abuse Survivor Tells Her Story, Advocates for Tougher Laws

Austin, Texas – Jan. 5, 2011– The Texas Council on Family Violence, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and Texas First Lady Anita Perry today encouraged Texans to learn more about stalking, a crime that affects more than 3 million victims a year across the United States. ’Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.’ is this year’s theme to bring awareness to Texans that stalking is a crime.

Amy Clark, a Texas woman who was stalked by an ex-boyfriend, feared for her life after she broke it off with the man.

“He followed me constantly. He showed up at my home where I had three other roommates, he showed up at my work, he hid and waited by my car. I was scared and lived in constant fear for my life,” said Clark.

“Stalking takes many different forms, and for the safety of its victims, it is important to recognize it when it happens,” said Texas First Lady Anita Perry. “The more we know about stalking, the more we’re able to help these victims and help put a stop to this crime in Texas.”

The Texas Council on Family Violence and Texas Association Against Sexual Assault champion two news bills to strengthen the law in Texas to protect victims of stalking.

Stalking: SB 82 by Texas Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, alters the stalking statute to make stalking behavior easier to prove.

Stalking: SB 250 by Texas Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, will allow a stalking victim to get a protective order even if they have not been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

“The connection between stalking and physical or sexual abuse – and in many cases, murder – is staggering. This law will ensure that prosecutors have the tools at their disposal to effectively prove this charge and to get a victim out of harm’s way before it is too late,” said Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound.

“We are poised to bring critical, long-awaited protection to stalking victims across the state,” said Senator Judith Zaffirini, D- Laredo. “I look forward to collaborating with advocates, stakeholders and colleagues to make effective stalking protective orders a reality. “

“Recognizing this month as Stalking Awareness Month is a heartening first step in Texas’s fight against stalking,” said Annette Burrhus-Clay, TAASA Executive Director. “But I am also confident that in the days and months to come, this will be a time of action, not just awareness.”

“TCFV and TAASA spent time and energy finding the most effective ways to hold stalkers accountable,” said Gloria A. Terry, TCFV president. “Law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, crime victims, advocates and survivors agree that these are the changes needed to strengthen the laws in Texas.”

Stalking is a felony crime in Texas. Stalking can be difficult to recognize, investigate and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime. It is a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes a person to fear. Stalking may take many forms including assault, threats, vandalism, burglary, unwanted cards, gifts or visits. 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.

#####

The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), formed in 1978, is one of the largest domestic violence coalitions in the nation. TCFV promotes safe and healthy relationships by supporting service providers, facilitating strategic prevention efforts, and creating opportunities for freedom from domestic violence. www.tcfv.org

The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) is the statewide organization committed to ending sexual violence in Texas. A non-profit educational and advocacy organization based in Austin, TAASA member agencies comprise a statewide network of more than 80 crisis centers that serve rural as well as metropolitan areas. Founded in 1982, the agency has a strong record of success in community education, legal services, youth outreach, law enforcement training, legislative advocacy, and curricula and materials development. Additional information about TAASA can be found at www.taasa.org

For Immediate Release

MEDIA CONTACT:
SUSAN RISDON, 214.226.6741, redmedia@tcfv.org