- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 28, 2004

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Donna Hogan wanted to do something to help others after her break from an abusive relationship turned into two years of terror.

That “something” turned into creating a “how-to” kit for catching, or at least discouraging, stalkers.

“Domestic violence can be scarier when victims leave,” said Mrs. Hogan, who spoke at a stalking conference last week in Charleston. “Just because the victim leaves doesn’t mean the perpetrator or abuser stops abusing.

“He just might find another way to abuse. He may not be able to get his hands on her, so he stalks her, terrorizes her.”

More than 1 million women and nearly 371,000 men are stalked annually in the United States, according to the Stalking Resource Center in Washington, D.C., which based its data on 1998 figures — the most recent available.

Mrs. Hogan, a criminal justice coordinator for the Shelter For Abused Women in Winchester, Va., began developing the stalking kits in 1998 with a federal grant to educate victims about collecting evidence and working with police.

“I didn’t know to keep times and dates, witnesses, didn’t know police didn’t always keep records,” said Mrs. Hogan, who also is a reserve officer for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department in Virginia.

The kits include tape recorders, disposable cameras, emergency cell phones, evidence bags, record logs and hand-held or door alarms.

The Stalking Resource Center has been helping spread the word since 2002, director Tracy Bahm said.

So have organizations in other states.

The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence began developing stalking kits two years ago, after learning about them from officials in Wisconsin, said coalition project manager Cindy Murray.

“One woman commented that her ex-husband kept driving by and harassing her,” Miss Murray said. “When she was actually able to go out and take a picture and prove that he was doing that, it just made her feel empowered.”

Miss Murray said the ex-husband stopped driving by the woman’s home.

“I believe it was a fear that there really was going to be evidence of what he was doing,” she said.

The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence hasn’t used such kits yet, but team coordinator Sue Julian said the group plans to study the idea.

“We are learning how to be more creative, intentional and accurate about collecting evidence,” Miss Julian said. “That documentation can be handed over to police officers to be used in court cases to prove that person has been systematically terrorized.”

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