True North Representative Talks About Stalking Awareness Month

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Lauren Petterson – MUTV 23 News Staff Writer

 

This Jan. was Stalking Awareness Month, as the local shelter for victims of domestic violence, True North, raises awareness for victims of stalking.

Stalking is the persistent activity of following, pestering, or annoying someone over a period of time.

True North’s Executive Director, Barbara Hodges, discussed how people should immediately react if they begin to notice behavior that could be stalking.

“Begin to log what’s happening. Make notes of when it happens where it happens and have somebody else observe it with you. Report it to the police, report it, if you’re a college student, report it on campus to maybe a professor or to different departments that would handle those kinds of issues, so that then there’s an awareness.” said Hodges. “It can get more dangerous if the stalker doesn’t get the attention that he or she wants, they could escalate the activity to where it’s more aggressive and possibly physically, and certainly it is dangerous emotionally.”

True North offers several services to help victims on personal and legal matters. True North helps victims to get in contact with authorities to pursue legal action such as filing restraining orders or formally filing a report about stalking or violence. All of their services are free and confidential. This is important to protect victims of sexual assault and allow any victim to receive help.

“We have counseling, we have court advocacy services, so it would depend on what the need is. We certainly work closely with domestic violence and sexual assault victims and the court system.” said Hodges.

One of True North’s main goals besides helping victims directly is to educate people about sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. According to Hodges, education allows for preventative measures to be implemented before dangerous situations worsen.

“The more that we know, then the more we can take preventative steps to minimize the possibility of being stalked or recognize what the signs are and be aware of your surrounds all the time so that then you can notify the authorities or get assistance.”

While True North offers services to anyone in the Columbia area, the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center located in the Student Center provides similar services to University of Missouri Students. True North encourages people who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking to seek out help from them and contact authorities.

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