January is National Stalker Awareness Month - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

January is National Stalker Awareness Month

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WSIL -- Many might only think of stalking as a person following or tracking another's movements but it's much more than that. The Internet and the latest technology has made it easier for stalkers to prey on others. 

According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center (SPARC), 7.5 million Americans are stalked each year. Of those victims, one in four reported being stalked via e-mail or instant messaging. 

Tyler Edmonds, State's Attorney for Union County, says it's not so much about the number of unwanted messages received, but how they make the person feel. "I would say if anyone begins to feel uncomfortable. If the contact continues after the person has been told to stop," Edmonds explains. 

SPARC also found 10% of victims reported being monitored by GPS, and 8% say their stalker used digital cameras or listening devices. 

Edmonds says he's worked on cases where some stalkers even hack their victim's technology, "People have hacked into people's appliances and lights in their home." 

If you feel that you're a victim of stalking, it's important to document each account of contact. "Save e-mails, text messages, screen shots, social media accounts and names. Also keep a written log of the activity," he says. 

Edmond adds to contact law enforcement and explain the whole situation, "Make sure you give them the full picture, not just what happened today or yesterday, but what’ been gong on over the last period of time."

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