Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Happening Now

January Marks The 13th Annual National Stalking Awareness Month

January is National Stalking Awareness Month and one local expert says it happens more often than you think.

Genesis House Victim Advocate Jenna Matthews said while there are many interpretations, stalking is constituted as two or more unwanted acts by another individual that would cause any reasonable individual to feel any type of fear. She said the biggest concern when it comes to stalking is providing physical evidence to help in a legal case.

“And sometimes that can intimidate people but physical evidence can be anything from just a photo of a car that you think is following you or getting a photo of a license plate or say getting a photo of unwanted flowers,” Matthews said. “I mean our technology is so advanced now that you can even just screenshot unwanted text messages.”

Matthews said there is an estimated 13.5 million people who are victims of stalking every year. She said in looking at past legal cases nationwide, almost every homicide case started with some form of stalking.

Matthews said there are three things the general population can do to help in situations where stalking seems apparent: Knowing what stalking is, being able to name what stalking is, and working to put an end to it. She said sometimes the average person can dismiss stalking or underestimate the situation.

“I tell people all the time that if someone comes to you and they are in fear and they think they are being stalked, do not belittle it at all,” Matthew said. “I feel like so many people just think it’s some Lifetime movie. And in some cases it can be, but most of the time it’s not what we see in the movies or on TV. So if someone comes to you with genuine fear, know how to find those resources like Genesis House or the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center in order to try and help.”

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