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CONTACT hopes to raise stalking awareness

On January 26, 2014

Local advocacy center CONTACT Rape Crisis Center brings awareness during the month of January for stalking, an issue that affects 6.6 million people in a year in the United States, according to The National Center for Victims of Crime.

CONTACT Rape Crisis Center is a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and support for victims of sexual assault and stalking. It also offers prevention education services to those living in Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mason County.

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

CONTACT provides victims of stalking with the assistance by helping them make a safety plan and a stalking resource kit. The kit includes a log for logging stalking incidents, pepper spray, a very loud alarm and other things, which allow the victim to feel safer.

According to victim advocates at CONTACT, the log is the most important message they can give to their clients. They said the best way to get law enforcement involved is to have a very specific log of incidents.

To raise awareness, CONTACT hosts three victim service meetings each month. At all meetings volunteers and advocates discuss stalking awareness month and what individuals can do to further stalking awareness in their communities.

CONTACT has also provided three presentations to Marshall University to bring awareness to students.

Amanda White, sexual assault response team coordinator at CONTACT, said when it comes to stalking, there are two things people need to know.

“First of all, I want them to be aware that there is help and that there are people in this community that will help them,” White said. “I also would like them to know that if anyone tells you to not take stalking seriously, make sure to trust your instinct. If you feel it’s serious, then take it serious.”

According to The National Center for Victims of Crime 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men have reported being a victim of stalking in their lifetime.

Other community agencies that work with stalking victims include Branches Domestic Violence Center, Huntington Police Department, Cabell County Magistrate’s office, as well as the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department.

Kylee McMullen can be contacted at mcmullen11@marshall.edu.

 

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