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Union County conference on Stalking Awareness Month

Union County State's Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds (third from left, at the lectern) discusses stalking at an awareness-raising conference held at the Union County Courthouse on Wednesday, 10 January 2018. Edmonds was joined by Cathy McClanahan, executive director of The Women's Center, and Union County Sheriff Scott Harvel; Anna Police Chief Michael Hunter; Cobden Police Chief B.J. Hale; and Bryan Watkins, Assistant Chief of Police with Anna Police Department.

JONESBORO — Anyone who finds themselves being stalked should be sure to document the perceived stalking — whether that be by taking a screen shot of threatening messages or saving emails and texts or social media posts, some experts said at a Union County news conference Wednesday morning.

The presenters defined stalking as "a course of conduct directed at a person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear."

In Illinois, stalking is a Class 4 felony that includes assault, threats, vandalism, burglary or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts or visits to the person's home or job.

In a year, about 7.5 million people are reportedly stalked in the United States; about 15 percent of women and 6 percent of men report having experienced stalking, according to the Stalking Resource Center.

One in four victims of stalking report that the stalker used technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices or hidden cameras, to track the victim's daily activities, the presenters said.

The presenters encourage people who suspect they are being stalked to:

1). Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, trust your instincts. Don't let others pressure you to downplay the stalker's behavior.

2). Call the police. Report stalking to the public.

3). Keep a log. Keep a written log or record of the stalking behaviors including the date, time and location.

4). Save emails, texts and social media posts. Save any written communication from the stalker to provide to police.

5). Call for help. Help is available 24 hours a day from many resources, including National Domestic Violence Hotline @ 1-800-799-SAFE; The Women's Center @ 1-800-334-2094, thewomensctr.org; and Stalking Resource Center @ victimsofcrime.org.

The Southern on Friday will publish a longer story about local efforts to raise stalking awareness.

stephanie.esters@thesouthern.com

618-351-5805

On Twitter: @scribeest

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Reporter

Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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