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Stalking

Stalking is behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. In Virginia, it is defined as "the conduct places that other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that person or to that other person's family or household member." Annually, 7.5 million individuals in the United States are stalked.

What does stalking look like?

  • Repeatedly calls you, may hang-up
  • Follows you and shows up where you are
  • Unwanted communication, gifts, letters, or texts
  • Monitors your phone, Internet use, or location 
  • Leaves unwanted items for you to find
  • Damages your property
  • Records or photographs you without permission
  • Threatens to hurt you, friend, family, or pets
  • Other actions to control, track, or frighten you

How often does stalking occur?

  • 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims were stalked by current or former romantic partner
  • 15% of women and 6% of men report being stalked in their lifetime
  • 25% of college students report having been stalked at some point during their college career.
  • Most stalking victims are between the ages of 18-29.
  • Individuals from all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds are affected by stalking.
  • Some form of technology is used in most stalking cases

Reactions to being stalked

  • You may feel fearful, vulnerable, anxious, irritable, sad, hopeless, overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, isolated, and angry.
  • You may experience flashbacks or have disturbing thoughts or memories of the incident(s).
  • You may have trouble sleeping, focusing, or remembering.
  • You may have problems with eating including loss of appetite, forgetting to eat, or overeating.
  • You may experience disruptions in social and/or other networks.

Characteristics of stalkers

  • There is no stereotypical stalker or stalking situation; however, stalkers are more likely to be former intimate partners of their victims than any other form of relationship.
  • Men stalk women; men stalk men; women stalk men; and women stalk women.
  • A stalker can be from any socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

If I suspect I am being stalked, what can I do?

  • You may report the incident(s) to the Office of Public Safety or to the Harrisonburg City Police.
  • If you believe you are being stalked by another university student, you may contact OSARP.
  • You may also receive support services from the Counseling Center or the Office of Residence Life.
  • Refrain from responding directly to any attempts of communication from the stalker. Communication or any attention at all only encourages the stalker.
  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Keep all phone logs, emails, letters, and pictures of any damages to property, – it is all evidence.
  • Create a safety plan for yourself and consider a court protective order.
  • Use long, complicated passwords for Internet web sites, e-mails, online banking, and other portals that may contain personal information.
  • Choose security questions and answers that only you would know.
  • Use extreme caution when exchanging information via the Internet.

Resources

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