January Is National Stalking Awareness Month

Each year, SHARPP (Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program) responds to many individuals who express concern about being stalked.

“Stalking, which includes online stalking, is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is real. It can happen to anyone. It’s dangerous, and it’s a crime,” said Cathy Covington with ALIVE, Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments.

“A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. More stalking cases involve men stalking women, but a stalker can be anyone, regardless of identity.”

Statistics

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics . . .

• 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked each year in the United States;

• More than one in four stalking victims reported some form of technology was used, such as email (83 percent) or instant messaging (35 percent);

• Three in four stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.

Know the Signs of a Stalker

• Repeatedly calls and texts you, including hang-ups;

• Follows you and shows up wherever you are;

• Sends unwanted gifts, letters, cards or emails;

• Damages your home, car or other property;

• Monitors your phone calls, computer use or social network account;

• Hacks into your social networking accounts (Facebook) or email;

• Uses technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go;

• Drives by or hangs out at your apartment/residence hall, outside your classroom or at your work;

• Threatens to hurt your family, friends or pets;

• Finds out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring private investigators, going through your garbage or contacting friends, classmates, family, neighbors or co-workers;

• Other actions that control or frighten you.

ALIVE provides critical support services to adults who have experienced intimate partner abuse including physical, sexual, emotional, and stalking.

“If you feel you are being stalked, call ALIVE at 1-800-941-9144 or 636-583-5700. There is no charge for any of the services we provide,” said Covington.