By Valencia Jones

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — State Representative Mesha Mainor knows first hand about the big problem of stalking. It’s an issue she says is highly underreported and ignored.

“I have been stalked for two years by the same person,” Mainor said. “They joined my church, follow me when I come out of any store, out of any event, park at my house. You try to forget what’s happening to you, and it’s difficult,” she said.

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On Thursday morning, Mainor introduced two legislative bills to address stalking victims’ rights and loopholes in the system. Several legislators were there to support Mainor’s efforts and to bring justice to countless victims. “Oftentimes, the police will not do a police report. I have to tell them what the law is,” she said. If passed, her legislation will ensure police officers file reports for these crimes and send them to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The second bill ensures authorities notify victims of court dates and makes sure the GBI reports the data back to the General Assembly.

Partnership Against Domestic Violence staff members say their organization has supported 20,000 survivors a year since 1975. “We have people who are struggling to receive help in the State of Georgia,” said Melissa Arthur, the vice president of Prevention Outreach for PADV.

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Advocates discussed the emotional and physical toll on stalking victims. Men, teenagers and members of the same sex are also victims. “They’re terrified the stalker will act in a way that ruins their reputation, physically hurt them, their pets, their loved ones, their children,” said Dr. Melanie Bliss, a psychologist and co-owner of Thrive Center. “The stalker becomes more invasive and may become more threatening, aggressive or violent.”

“If you’re choosing to use those behaviors and stalk somebody else, that’s a choice and you can unlearn that,” said Greg Loughlin, the director of community engagement for Men Stopping Violence.

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For domestic violence help and resources, you can call the Partnership Against Domestic Violence 24-hour crisis line at 404-873-1766.