Stalking Awareness Month: How to identify and report stalking crimes

Local News

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — January is National Stalking Awareness Month and 10 On Your Side is committed to “Break the Cycle” of relationship violence.

Anika Virgin, Director of the York-Poquoson Victim Witness program, says you should identify stalking behaviors and recognize the signs early on.

“Stalking is if someone is following you or you know and giving you uninvited contact over several occasions.”

It’s not always threatening behavior, but it can be traumatic and sometimes very dangerous. 

“When you think of stalking, you think of someone following you. That’s kind of changed with the use of technology. It’s changed a lot.”

Now stalking crimes are happening more on apps like Snapchat and Facebook.

“So, stalking can also be online and when someone keeps [direct messaging] you. Even though you try to block them, they go to a new account and DM you, again.”

According to the National Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center, most times your stalker is someone you know. For example, an ex-partner or someone you dated. However, less than half of stalking cases are reported to police. 

Here in Hampton Roads, all law enforcement agencies have a witness program to help you report stalking. 

“We always tell our victims to report everything. If it’s something small, you need to report it so you can keep a record because it could escalate. You can’t ignore it, says Virgin.

Virgin says to report stalking and make sure you have proof like pictures or screen shots.

“It can get difficult because you have to prove that it’s coming from this particular person. That, sometimes, is difficult.

In a statement about stalking awareness month, President Joe Biden calls on Congress to update the violence against women act to expand ways to prevent stalking and domestic violence.

He adds his administration will launch a task force to address online harassment since digital abuse impacts women and girls at a higher rate.

“We’ve had instances of kids sending nude photos out, so we stress to kids. ‘Hey, this stuff is out there once you put it out there, it’s out there. Someone may use it to do whatever. To stalk you, to extort or whatever, so you have to be very careful with those things.'”

At home, its important parents make sure their child feels safe so they can talk with them about any problems.

 “You have to take steps to prevent it because you deserve to feel safe.”

If you need help reporting a stalking crime, call your local victim witness program. If you live in York- Poquoson, call 757-890-3402 or visit www.yorkcounty.gov/vw.

If you or you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse, CLICK HERE for a list of local and national resources.

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