JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi lawmakers are serious about the dangers of domestic violence and stalking. January is stalking awareness month and at the capitol Wednesday, the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence as well as legislators spoke about the need to enforce tougher laws against domestic violence and stalking.
Several bills are going around the house and senate to help ensure the safety of those who encounter this form of abuse. The MCADV reports over 3 million people nationwide over 18 years old are stalked annually. Those that are committing the act of stalking -- are more likely to commit further acts of violence.
Technology is just another tool for stalkers and many laws now specify cyber stalking as a felony. And many times, those responsible are anything but strangers to the victims.
"Intimate partner stalking affects quite a few a domestic violence victims and the statistics show that one out of six American women will be stalked in their lifetime," said Sandy Middleton who is the Executive Director of The Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl.
The link between stalking and physical or sexual abuse is not uncommon at the Center for Violence Prevention.
"We regard it as a red flag in any domestic violence relationship. Because if you remember, domestic violence is about power and control and so stalking is the ultimate expression of an offender's need for power and control," explained Middleton.
But it's not always an immediate concern, especially when it's coming from someone the victim knows well.
"A lot of times it takes the victim a minute to understand that this behavior is wrong and it's out of order," Middleton said.
If someone does recognize the behavior is excessive, there is some advice the center gives those victims.
"Keep detailed information. Maybe make a log. Write down at what time something happened who was present all the details to go along with the event," detailed Middleton.
And be aware that stalkers have other methods that don't always include them directly.
"Sometimes offenders will use proxy stalkers like they'll ask their best friend or somebody in their family, just somebody in their family just somebody else involved in the relationship to report back to them on the behavior," said Middleton
The Center for Violence Prevention helps victims to cope with the fear associated with stalking and serves as a safe-haven for discussing those concerns.
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