January is National Stalking Awareness Month. As the month comes to a close it's important to recognize that this is an issue year round. Stalking is terrifying and often escalates into violence. I have personally been a victim of cyber stalking and physical stalking and the trauma is damaging. I do know that I'm not at all alone in this.

The statistics on stalking are jarring. Did you know more than 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men will be stalked in their lifetimes? Stalking isn't just following. There are a number of tactics and behaviors stalkers do to scare their victims, including:
-Unwanted contact (texts, e-mails, messages)
-Tracking you using technology (GPS, cameras, apps)
-Damaging Your Property
-Harassing family, co-workers, or friends
-Hacking your accounts
-Threatening to hurt you or those close to you

The Stalking Prevention Awareness and Resource Center (SPARC) is encouraging everyone to get educated about stalking. "Know it. Name it. Stop it." And their entire website provides resources to accomplish that. The Women's and Children's Alliance is also committed to educating and providing help for victims.

If you are not being stalked, but know someone who is, please share this guide with them and do your part to stop it. Make your social media pages private. Don't tag the person being stalked in any locations or post pictures of them. Do not communicate with the stalker no matter how badly you want to confront them. Do not accept friend requests from anyone you don't know. If a familiar friend reaches out using a duplicate account, do not accept without verifying their identity through a phone call or text to their phone number. "I made a new account" is the perfect way for a stalker to catfish and get back into your life. For more tips and resources, head to stalkingawareness.org.

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