January is National Stalking Awareness Month - a crime that affects over seven million victims a year nationwide according to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center.
Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds says stalking is changing because everyone is so connected through social media.
He says unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime, but a series of acts. So, Edmonds encourages potential victims to save any written communication, such as e-mails, texts and social media posts.
"What we see as prosecutors, and the police see sometimes, is we'll get a report that regards maybe one incident of phone harassment or online communication, but we later become aware that this is a much bigger problem. As a prosecutor I want to know all that information up front, so that we can try to deal with the problem and have a better picture of what's going on."
Edmonds says stalking is a serious crime that can sometimes lead to murder. He says Illinois' statutes on stalking and cyber-stalking are pretty comprehensive.
"The stalking statute can really encompass a lot of things, including online activity. There's also a stalking no-contact order that we sometimes assist victims in obtaining aside from the criminal charges that offers protections similar to an Order of Protection."
Edmonds says one in four victims report the stalker uses technology, such as computers, GPS devices or hidden cameras.
Edmonds says he files a handful of stalking cases in Union County each year and he has prosecuted numerous cases over the years in which defendants were sent to prison.