An update of the Connecticut Stalking Law went into effect Monday, creating more protection for victims.
"It was not clear before what the law actually covered," said Susan DeLeon of the Center for Domestic Violence Services. "The upgrade will help make the law clear and will hopefully lower the amount of stalking we have in Connecticut."
The law, which has not been updated since it went into effect in 1992, is being updated in part because of new technology. Back then, most people weren't using the internet or cellphones, so stalking was easier to define.
"Now a victim can file a report against a stalker because of phone calls, emails and even text messages," said Liza Andrews, communications and public policies specialist from the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "They can also file reports in three different areas: Where the victim lives, where they receive the communication or where the communication is being sent from."
Other additions to the law include extending restraining orders to a year or more, if necessary, instead of only six months, and protection in the workplace.
"Now the Connecticut Law says that if these actions are threatening a person's career or job, then that is stalking as well," said Anna Doroghazi of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services. "Now there is control over this and the victim won't get fired, and instead there can be legal action brought upon that individual who is initiating the communication."
Another update is that victims do not necessarily have to feel harm for themselves.
"For instance, let's say a woman had an ex-boyfriend who was stalking them and kept leaving them notes saying he still loved her, she might not necessarily feel scared for herself, but she might feel concerned for her new boyfriend's life instead," Doroghazi said. "These are instances when a victim can still file a report in order to make sure not only they are safe but also the people they care about."
A change to the "course of conduct" section of the law now states that third-party communication can be stalking. Whether the stalker directly or indirectly contacts the individual, a report can be made.
The stalking includes, but is not limited to, following the individual, waiting for them, monitoring and observing from a distance or close by, sending unwanted gifts or communicating through technological devices.
"Before, there were different meanings to what stalking actually was," Andrews said. "This shows the many different types of stalking that are happening these days as well as taking into account that it can be more than one person doing the stalking or the stalker could have help."