Stalking training held in Fayette County - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Stalking training held in Fayette County

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Millions of Americans every year are being stalked and harassed. Advocate groups are coming together in places like Oak Hill to help teach victims how to handle it.

59News reporter Jessie Gavin takes us to a stalking defense program.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 6.6 million Americans every year are stalked and this often leads to harassment or worse.

The Women's Resource Center and Lois Manns with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services came together with local law enforcement agencies to raise awareness on the seriousness of stalking.

Manns explained the differences between creepy and annoying, and something much worse, such as stalking.

"It may start off as annoying phones calls or letters or inappropriate emails but in order to fit the criminality part of West Virginia Law, the person would actually have to follow you," she said.

West Virginia state code defines stalking as when a person 2 or more times follows another knowing that the conduct causes the person followed to reasonably fear for his or her safety or suffer significant emotional distress. With brand new codes are in effect, more victims are able to get the help they need. A victim advocate explains.

"What's brand new is the personal safety order, before, it was just a domestic violence petition and you had to be related, so now with the PSO, anyone can get it, you go through magistrate court instead of family court," said Twanna Warner-Burton, sexual assault and stalking victim advocate.

Meaning, if anyone is stalking or harassing you, it doesn't have to be just a family member or someone you know, for you to have a case.

She told 59News if you've been stalked the first step is to document every detail and tell anyone, preferably law enforcement or parents as soon as possible.