January! A new year. Time for annual resolutions and promises to do and be better. But January is also Stalking Awareness Month. And one of those resolutions must be to support people, especially women on college campuses who are stalked and harassed. Women need to be heard and feel safe. They need access to the resources that can help them regain control of their lives. Colleges must also take allegations of stalking seriously and discipline the perpetrators of these acts and when necessary, support the criminal justice system’s prosecution of these individuals.
According to Victim Connect Resource Center, “stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” https://victimconnect.org/learn/types-of-crime/stalking/ It is a pattern of behavior that can be overwhelming and leave its victims isolated, and in extreme cases, too terrified to leave their homes. In worst cases, stalking victims have been killed by their stalkers.
If you have not been stalked, you might know someone who has been victimized by stalking. In the United States, 1 out of 6 women have been subjected to the fear inducing acts of a stalker. While stalking behavior is not limited to men, (1 out of 19 men are stalked) https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/quick-guide-to-stalking-16-important-statistics-and-what-you-can-do-about-it women are more likely to experience these acts of intimidation and aggression.
The highest incidents of stalking occurs between the ages of 18 and 24, so the college years are the most active for this threatening behavior. The lines between puppy love and disturbing behavior can be hazy. Stalking on college campuses presents challenges because of its concentrated population and the nature of college life. Many college students are getting their first tastes of independence and making their own decisions about socializing and establishing boundaries without their parents’ supervision. It’s what most kids look forward to the most about ‘going off to college’.
Unfortunately, one of the most exciting and transformative periods in our lives can be fraught with the misery and fear of being stalked. And sadly a majority of victims are stalked by a person they know. So, as parents prepare their young people, particularly their daughters for the adventure of college and campus life, they must ensure they have the tools to recognize troubling or annoying behaviors that are potentially red flags.
The first thing students need to know is that stalking is not a part of college life! It is not a just a part of the college experience! And this includes cyberstalking, which is the misuse of the internet or other technology to stalk and harass someone. www.womenslaw.org You have agency over your person and your space. You need to know where your lines are, and here are some signs that boundaries may have been crossed:
- Repeated calls to your phone, including hang-ups
- Follows you and shows up wherever you are
- Sends unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or emails
- Damages your property
- Monitors your phone calls or computer use, possibly through spyware
- Uses technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go
- Drives by or lingers near your home, school, or work
- Threatens to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets
- Performs other actions that control, track, or frighten you
- Uses other people to try to communicate with you, like children, family, or friends
If you are being stalked on campus:
- Take the threats seriously
- Alert the administration and campus security
- Don’t be afraid to call 911 for immediate assistance!
- Cut the aggressor off completely by ending all contact.
- Document every incidence by the stalker, no matter how insignificant you think it is.
- Tell those closest to you
- Connect with an advocate—you are not alone.
authored by Aisha Carson, Fahrenheit Creative Group