Stalking: how the 'system' protects victims

Stalking: how the 'system' protects victims

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Stalking is generally defined as a pattern of behavior that could cause someone to be in fear. In Texas, to be considered stalking, there must be at least two instances of it.

But less than 40 percent of stalking victims in the U.S. reported police taking action against the perpetrator, according to the Justice Department. Lubbock Police insist that is not the case here. 

Both LPD and the District Attorney's Office ensure they work diligently to protect these victims.

"Last year we saw just under 90 cases of stalking," Tiffany Taylor with Lubbock Police said. "The overwhelming majority of those cases are domestic in nature, meaning, they had some sort of prior relationship." 

Taylor said it's important to document the moment you feel violated. With enough evidence, the suspect could be arrested and charged with a third degree felony. If they are convicted, that is two to 10 years in prison. But it does not happen overnight.

"A lot of them are frustrated because it is so hard to prove," Steven Garcia with Women's Protective Services said.

Unfortunately, some victims do not report these cases because they feel the system has given up on them. Garcia helps these victims heal. He said many feel defeated.

"We have to build up their self esteem, make them feel, yes you are worthy," Garcia said. "You deserve to be protected by, you know, society, by law, this is not fair."  

There are legal steps to protect yourself from a predator. Traci Bowman with the Lubbock County District Attorney's Office said once a suspect is arrested, a judge can put on conditions of bond. It could prevent contact, bar them from going near a victim's home, work or school and potentially require them to wear a GPS tracker. 

Even if you do not want to press charges, you can still file a protective order.

"Those last for two years and that is another order that dictates a defendant where he can and cannot go, that he can't have contact with her," Bowman said. 

Stalking has evolved over the years. Now it is often digital, which can be more threatening. 

"What we've seen over the years with the explosion of social media, and everybody with basically a computer in their hand, you know it's easier to find out where people are," Taylor said.

Bowman said when filing cases, almost all of them at this point include Facebook or Instagram.

In February, Radio DJ Amy Olivares reported she was being stalked. She even put on a demonstration to show others they are not alone. 

"Never did I think a listener would become a stalker," Olivares said back in February. 

She was forced to move, file a protective order and is now pressing charges.

"I cannot sleep, any little noise, my safety is gone," Olivares said.

That feeling is what many deal with. Garcia said these victims have to essentially change their entire lives to protect themselves.

"You teach them to be diligent to be aware, just in general," Garcia said. "I know it's unfair for women in society to live like that, but unfortunately it's a reality." 

While there are legal actions Garcia believes victims should take, he said 10 years is not enough to deter some predators.

"The intent is fear, this is not a paparazzi kind of thing," Garcia said. In March, the Lubbock Grand Jury did indict the man Olivares said was stalking her. Chad Edward Joyce faces a count of burglary of a habitation, a separate count of Burglary with intent to commit other felonies. He is currently in the Lubbock County Detention Center.
 

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