CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Sunday marked the end of a month used to bring awareness of the dangers in stalking, something people may not realize as a serious issue.
“It’s important to bring awareness to stalking because I think sometimes we forget that it happens, and I think we also forget how dangerous stalking can be,” said Adrianne Nichols, Hope, Inc. SART Coordinator. “When we work with stalking victims, we look at lethality and are there indicators to show that the stalker is more dangerous that people perceive.”
The issue is also widespread, as statistics from the organization Safe Horizon indicates that up to 3.4 million individuals will become the victim of stalking in a year.
The number may not report all stalking cases, due to the fact it is sometimes is misinterpreted by the victim until it may be too late.
“People will come to us and they’ll say this and this is going on, or they’ll even call it harassment or something like that,” Nichols said. “When we really look at the behaviors, we can identify that this is actually stalking and then refer them to law enforcement or wherever we need to, to get help.”
Some behaviors exhibited by a stalker include repeatedly following or spying on the victim, threatening the victim or someone close the the victim and repeatedly showing up to places where the victim is for no legitimate reason.
Nichols and Hope, Inc. worked through the month of January to get the word out and are already planning for next year.
“One of the things we’d like to do more of is work with the college campuses because we know that that age group is affected more than any other age group by stalking,” she said. “We’d like to reach out to the colleges –of course, Salem [International College] in this county– and work with them to really raise awareness with the students.”
For those who are now the victims of stalking, there are resources available with Hope, Inc. to help them in many different ways.
“We have counseling and different types of advocacy,” Nichols said. “We can also talk to them about protective orders, which may be helpful also.
Hope, Inc. in Harrison County can be reached at (304) 624-9835. Those in other counties can visit fris.org.