New stalking law will protect victims' identities
"I didn't register to vote where I moved to because I was afraid he was going to be able to find me," said Dawn Streeter.
Dawn is a victim of stalking. In 2007 her stalker was her neighbor.
[WEB EXTRA: National Stalking Resource Center ]
Today, Dawn is a victim's advocate; she knows firsthand what her clients go through.
Dawn recalled what she went through, "I thought if I ignored him he would go away and it just got worse. I went to work in the morning he was there, I stepped outside at 5:30 he was there, I went to Publix and he was there, I went to pick my children up from school and he was there, I went to the book store he was there when I came home he was there … he was always there."
Local 6 asked Dawn when she realized there was a problem.
"All the sudden I was getting flat tires on my car, my car was getting keyed," Dawn said.
Dawn filed an injunction, pressed charges and her stalker eventually went to jail for 30 days. But her nightmare wasn't over.
It was a phone call Dawn said changed her life.
"His probation officer called me after he got out of jail and said 'I can't tell you what we talked about but you need to take your girls and get out of here,'" she said.
Dawn left and never looked back.
"Stalking … it's one of the leading indicators that someone is going to be killed," said Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House of Central Florida.
Wick believes this new law protecting the privacy of stalking victims' voter information will save lives.
"State funds would help relocate them but then they could be identified through voter records and other records so it was really important that they have the same rights and protections as someone who is a sexual assault victim," she said.
The numbers for stalking are troubling. In 2014 nearly 2,000 men and women went to court looking for protection in the form of an injunction.
The numbers show that in 2014, 25 incidents of aggravated stalking and 47 incidents of stalking were reported to law enforcement, for a total of 72 reported offenses.
In 2014, 12 arrests were made for aggravated stalking and 16 arrests were made for stalking, for a total of 28 arrests.
The stalking injunction numbers tell a different story because the total number of stalking reports (72) is vastly lower than the number of stalking injunction filings (1,977).
While stalking victims is part of the "Address Confidentiality Program" which removes the victims name from most public sites like, Property Tax Records. Today's technology makes it tough to stay private.
"Typically anybody can pull you up on these new databases and gather information about you and pretty much know everything about you including where you work," Wick said.
It's something Dawn won't forget.
"When I go to Orlando I still kind of look over my shoulder. It's always going to be in the back of my mind," she said.
"This law goes into effect Oct. 1. Is Florida where it needs to be with its stalking laws?" Local 6 asked Dawn.
"I honestly wish it would have happened faster because who knows whose information was looked up but I'm glad it finally happened" said Dawn.
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