Local law enforcement and victim advocates urge stalking awarene - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local law enforcement and victim advocates urge stalking awareness

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UNION CO. -- The crime of stalking affects more than 3.5 million Americans every year.  Experts say the emotional trauma of being stalked can even lead to post traumatic stress disorder. 

It could be a harassing phone call or Facebook message, a note on your car or someone unexpectedly showing up at your home or work. Union County States Attorney Tyler Edmonds says, it may seem like an isolated incident, but beware, you may be being stalked. 

"When there is a pattern of behavior that may not seem like that serious of an incident by itself, but when you look at those in a pattern, the police need to know what that pattern is," said Edmonds. 

That's why experts say to keep a log of whats been going on so you can give that information to police. 

"Save your text messages, your phone records, Facebook posts that are directed at you or about you," said Edmonds. 

Edmonds says he sees a handful of stalking cases a year, but warns this crime often goes unrecognized and unreported. Cathy McClanahan with the Womens Center says victims of stalking walk through their doors more often than people may think. 

"At least once a week, probabaly even more than that," said McClanahan. 

She says if you believe your'e being stalked, trust your instincts and don't let others downplay the stalkers behavior. Next, call police. She says if it isn't an isolated incident, give police the full story explaining the pattern of behavior. Edmonds says thats when those screenshots, text messages and logs will be helpful. He also says its best you report these incidents right away, instead of waiting, like many do. 

"Many cases that we have dealt with, when we look at the full course of conduct, its something that could have been reported much earlier," said Edmonds. 

If you feel unsafe and would like to seek help, you can call The Women's Center at 1-800-334-2094. The advocates you'll be put in touch with will help you devise a safety plan. 

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