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January is Stalking Awareness Month

Stalking is the unwanted pursuit of another person, and is not a one-time event. It can include repeated harassing or threatening behavior toward another person, whether that person is a total stranger, acquaintance, current or former intimate partner, or anyone else.

Stalking is also a crime that can cause tremendous fear. It is a pattern of distressing behavior with no real identified beginning and seemingly no end. Although it may seem that stalking is not a violent crime, it can often escalate to physical and sexual violence. Individuals who engage in stalking are attempting to exert power and control over another against their will, and is often used by abusive partners.
Stalking behaviors may include:

•Following, monitoring, surveillance of victim and/or victim's family, friends, co-workers;
•Disorderly conduct offenses; criminal mischief, larceny, robbery, burglary, trespass, loitering;
•Forgery or criminal impersonation;
•Repeated threatening communications or attempts to communicate, especially after being clearly informed to stop;
•Violation of any order of protection;
•Crossing jurisdictions/borders to stalk/commit offenses;
•Kidnapping victim or children or threatening to do so;
•Threats of suicide or homicide; and/or abusing or killing pet or other animal.

Risks increase when a current or former intimate partner is stalking, because the perpetrator has extensive and intimate knowledge of victim and routines (history, social or family contacts, daily routines, employer, co-workers, neighbors, children and pets). The behavior can even look like legitimate caring and concern for the victim. There is an increased risk if the stalker has weapons or has the opportunity for regular contact with victim through children's, court dates, family, mutual friends, work, or school.

Stalking can have a devastating impact on victims. Victims of stalking suffer continuous intense stress or anxiety, hyper-vigilance and fear. They often feel exceedingly vulnerable and a loss of control over their own lives. They also often feel anger, rage, and depression. Victims may suffer post-traumatic stress, failure to concentrate, and also sleep disruptions which further affect their ability to function in their work and personal lives.

If you or someone you know is being stalked, do not minimize it because the behaviors often worsen over time if unaddressed. Encourage the victim to keep records of the stalker's activities, no matter how trivial and to talk to a crime victim advocate, law enforcement, or another professional that can help keep the victim and their children safe.

For more information about Stalking and other personal crimes, call the Crime Victims Program at 607-334-8422 or our 24 Hour Hotline at 607-336-1101. Services are free of charge to victims and their family. We are here to help, regardless if you choose to make a report to the police. All calls are confidential.