Counselors at Naval Station Mayport speak to Sailors and their families about stalking, domestic violence

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. On Monday, counselors at Naval Station Mayport took that opportunity to speak with Sailors and their families about stalking and domestic violence.

News4JAX spoke with a father whose daughter served in the military and was murdered during a domestic violence incident with her estranged husband.

“Her phone conversations, calling me. She didn’t call me dad, she called me pops. ‘Pops, what are you doing?’ That’s what I miss,” Rod Hughes said.

Hughes daughter, Brittney Mitchell, was shot and killed by her husband, Victor Silvers. Mitchell was divorcing Silvers because he was abusive, she filed for a restraining order but he still stalked and killed her.

Mitchell’s death is just one of many examples of men and women in the military who deal with stalking.

RESOURCE: Naval Station Mayport Family Advocacy Program

Olivia Duffy is a victim advocate at Naval Station Mayport. She helps military families in need of support.

“This month is actually the 20th anniversary of the stalking awareness program,” Duffy said.

According to Duffy, many men and women will be stalked in their lifetime, and victims don’t always get justice.

When we asked Duffy why it’s hard to prosecute these cases, she said, “You really have to have an offender that has to almost be caught in the process.”

Duffy says stalking can show up in many forms, including:

unwanted communicationfollowing the persontracking their locationdamaging propertyspreading rumorsposting or sharing threatsharassing the person

“Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at one person, that a reasonable person would be in fear for their safety,” Duffy said.

Hughes shares that there were patterns when his daughter was being stalked by her then husband, but some of the signs may have been subtle. He encourages others to act on their concerns.

Harris urges parents to talk to their children if they suspect something. He says to get help for them and don’t wait.

Counselors and advocates stress that it’s important for victims to know that stalking is not the victim’s fault and it shouldn’t ever happen in the first place.

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