Community Connections of Franklin County in Malone. Alexander Violo/Malone Telegram

With January being the 18th National Stalking Awareness Month, Community Connections of Franklin County is raising awareness about the impact of stalking locally.

“Stalking occurs in over 50 percent of domestic violence cases,” Anita Plann, a licensed mental health professional with the organization said. “Due to this, Community Connections First Step to New Beginnings Domestic Violence Program will be participating in NSAM.”

According to an article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Forensic Sciences — “The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Based upon a Large Sample of North American Stalkers” — stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear or emotional distress.

Stalkers often follow, monitor and wait for their victims, as well as leave them unwanted gifts, spread rumors about them, and repeatedly call, text and message them.

Within federal jurisdictions, all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, tribal lands, and the military justice system, stalking is considered a crime.

Stalking affects more than 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men in the United States. Despite its commonness, most of the general public underestimates its danger, according to research provided by Community Connections.

According to that research, 1 in 5 stalkers use weapons to threaten or harm victims. The risk of intimate partner homicide increases by 3 times when stalking is involved.

Plann said that one of the difficulties of recognizing and taking action against stalking is that each single act may not be a problem or considered a crime on its own, though each act becomes criminal when part of the pattern of behavior that characterizes stalking.

Survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, social issues, and severe depression as a result of being stalked, and many lose time from work or relocate.

“Know It. Name It. Stop It.” is the call for action this month as the vast majority of victims tell friends or family about their situation first. How people respond influences whether they seek further help.

“We all have a role to play in identifying stalking, intervening when necessary, and supporting victims and survivors,” Plann said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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