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Social Media Tools Embraced By Stalkers

DENVER (CBS4)- The number of people with stalkers has doubled in the past three years. Experts say the alarming trend is due partly because of social media, and the constant need to check in, makes it easier for stalkers to keep track of their victims.

"My number one concern here is the safety of me and my four boys," said Ruby Ramirez as she testified against her ex-husband in court.

Police say he stalked and attacked her.

"He decides to stab me not once, not twice but eight times," said Ruby.

Victim advocates say protecting Ruby from violent stalkers has become more difficult in recent years.

"You would be amazed at the ways people can use technology to get information about someone," said Safehouse Denver spokeswoman Natalie Hicks.

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(credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

According to their website, Safehouse Denver serves victims of domestic violence and their children through both an emergency shelter and a non-residential Counseling and Advocacy Center. All of the adults, children and youth who come to SafeHouse Denver have access to a full range of bilingual programming, including individual counseling, group sessions, advocacy and safety planning.

Hicks says technology has left many victims more vulnerable, "It's another resource they have to harass and intimidate and threaten, stalk their partner."

Shalisha Hammond says she is a victim of stalking, both in person and online and in the court system.

"He is a professional stalker, his crimes have escalated over the years," said Hammond. "That's his threat, I'll see you in court, I'll file this against you."

She has been keeping records and has stacks of court documents.

Stalkers use a variety of different technologies to track their victims:

Facebook shows where people check in for activities, stalkers can follow their victims on Instagram and Twitter, LinkedIn lists employers and addresses. Victims can also be tracked by location services on their cellphones. There are even specific apps that can monitor phone calls and intercept calls.

"GPS tracking, those things are so readily available people are just easy to find," said Hicks.

Stalkers are not just lurking in the shadows any longer, they're online, studying their victim's profiles, electronically tracking their whereabouts and identifying and monitoring their friends.

"I don't think you need to be technically savvy, that's the scary thing, you just know how to use a computer," said Hicks.

Ruby said she finally feels safe now that her attacker is in prison.


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