“Oh, he just likes you, how sweet.”

These are the words a teacher told me in grade school when I told her about a boy who would not leave me alone. He would follow me around constantly and was always too close for my comfort. I told him several times to leave me alone, but he continued. One day, a teenager saw me frustrated and almost in tears about this boy and told him in no certain terms to stop and finally he did.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month and in participating in this awareness we wanted to dispel some preconceived ideas about what stalking is and what it is not. It is considered two or more followings which include: leaving notes or gifts, calling the victim on untraceable apps, texting, hacking the victim’s social media accounts, putting electronic trackers on their cars or phones, showing up places knowing the victim will be there, contacting friends and relatives, and more. Unfortunately, the ways in which someone can stalk another individual are numerous.

When people think about stalking, it seems like most of them believe the stalker is infatuated with the victim and they love them so much they cannot control themselves. They think it is because the stalker and the victim were in a relationship previously and they just can’t let the other person go. However, stalking is not sweet, and it certainly is not love.

The damage from the stress that stalking does to a victim is serious. It can affect their mental, emotional, and physical health. The victims lose their sense of safety, and many times do not want to leave their homes, even though they no longer feel safe there either. They fear going anywhere and always feel they must look over their shoulders. They are stressed and always on the edge. They never know what extent the stalker will go to in order to keep tabs on them. One victim likened it to being in prison.

Stalking is not something to be ignored. Many homicide victims were stalked before the offender took their lives. So what can be done to stop the stalking?

A stalking victim can get a protective order which makes contact illegal between the stalker and the victim. They can also make statements to law enforcement and ask for charges to be pressed. Locally, Safenet Services’ protective order office is a resource to help end the crime of stalking. Nationally, resources can be found at the Stalking Resource Center’s website – VictimsofCrime.org.

Until everyone in our community understands that stalking is a devastating crime, our victims will continue to suffer.

If you are a victim of stalking, you may contact Rogers County Protective Order Office at 918-923-4962 or come by the Rogers County Courthouse 2nd floor to the north. We will be glad to talk to you about your safety and options.

Leslie,  Safenet Services Inc., Rogers County Court Advocate, Rogers County Courthouse Protective Order Office.

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