Many don’t know their relationships are abusive

Farm Forum

Gina Karst is Executive Director of Safe Harbor in Aberdeen.

Often people will run into each other and jokingly ask, “Are you stalking me?”

But for others stalking is not a joking matter. Being stalked is a serious, scary crime. According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, one in six women and one in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization. Stalking is defined as unwanted and obsessive attention by an individual or group to another person.

Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person and/or monitoring them via the Internet. Not all stalkers are men.

Stalking is a form of dating violence. What might start as a form of care and concern turns into annoying and harassing. In this technological age it is so easy for a person to know where their dating partner is at any time. Most of the people we see come to our office seeking a protection order against former dating partners have experienced stalking through text messages. The perpetrators will text 100 times or more a day with messages that start with “I love you and miss you” to “I will hurt you or your family or myself if you don’t talk to me.”

Dating violence can also involve manipulation — making the victim feel guilty if they are not spending every waking second with their partner, or telling the victim that if they loved him/her then they should not spend time with their friends or family. The use of power and control over a dating partner is never healthy, it is not a show of love and respect — it is an unhealthy relationship. Go to and take their relationship quizzes to learn if your relationship is healthy.

Females between the ages of 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. Because of this statistic, throughout the month of February, Safe Harbor will focus on educating about safe dating at the junior high schools and high schools in Aberdeen and our surrounding communities.

There is a lack of awareness about dating violence, in fact, only 33 percent of teens that have been in violent relationships have ever told anyone about the abuse. Parents also need to be informed about teen dating violence, according to, 81 percent of parents believe that teen dating violence is not an issue or admit that they do not know if it is an issue.

If you or someone you know feels that they are being stalked or in a violent dating relationship or if you would like more information please contact Safe Harbor at 226-1212 or by email through our website

To learn more about stalking or dating violence, visit or