January is National Stalking Awareness Month. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, stalking is common.

One in six women and one in 17 men have experienced stalking in their lifetimes. Like many types of abuse and violence, stalking is often perpetrated by someone the victim knows and most frequently by a current or former partner.

Stalking is a crime in Pennsylvania and a serious type of abuse. With current technologies, stalking is now more than direct, in-person encounters. Cyberstalking has become on the most prevalent types of abuse reported to domestic violence centers across the country.

What is stalking? According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center, stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalkers shows up in many places and in many forms:

  • Stalkers may show up at your job or school.
  • Wait for you at locations they know you frequent.
  • Drive by your home or place of employment.
  • Frequently calls you.
  • Follow you.
  • Befriend your family or friends.
  • Send gifts or mail.
  • Contact your boss or co-workers.
  • Break into your home.
  • Lurk around your home, school or place of employment.
  • Leave threatening messages for you.
  • Tamper with your vehicle.

Through cyberstalking, perpetrators may:

  • Hack your social media accounts.
  • Create fake accounts in an attempt to contact you:
  • Threaten to publish photos of you or potentially defamatory information.
  • Call, text, message you frequently.
  • Change passwords to your accounts.
  • Set-up cameras to monitor your activities.
  • Track you by GPS through your devices.
  • Place undetectable Spyware on your devices.
  • Publish disparaging remarks about you online.
  • Send unsolicited pornography.

Domesticshelters.org indicates that children and young people under the age of 25 who are victims of cyberstalking or cyberharassment are more than twice as likely to self-harm and enact suicidal behaviors.

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