Sexual Assault Awareness: What Is Stalking?
Stalking is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but men do stalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.
Are You Being Stalked?
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
Some things stalkers do:
- Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
- Damage your home, car, or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records or on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
What you can do:
- If in immediate danger, call 911.
- Trust gut instincts and take treats seriously. Don't downplay what is going on. If feeling unsafe, there is probably a reason.
- Issue a "No Contact Statement". Give a one-time statement to the stalker expressing the wish to have no contact with him or her.
- Contact University Police Services. University Police Services is the primary safety contact for members of the campus community. They can help victims devise a safety plan, connect with other resources and discuss options such as seeking a protection order.
- Tell family, friends, roommates and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
- Develop a safety plan. Include in it things like changing daily routines and having a friend tag along. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up where you live, work or take classes. University Police Services and the Women's Center can help make the safety plan.
- Keep Evidence. Save emails, phones messages, texts, notes, etc. Write down times, dates, and places of contact. Documentation can assist in obtaining a protection order.
- Protect personal information. Stalkers gather personal information about their victims from a wide variety of sources. Be cautious about personal posts on social media sites and what is thrown away in your garbage. Think about other ways the stalker could obtain personal information and take steps to safeguard it.
- Seek help to deal with complex emotions some victims experience. Fear, anxiety, stress, frustration and depression are common reactions to being stalked. University Psychological Services can help. Call (330)672-2487 to make an appointment.
- Don't communicate with the stalker or respond to his/her attempts at contact. Stalkers can be unreasonable and unpredictable. Confronting or trying to reason with a stalker can be dangerous.
*Adapted from materials created by the National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center
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