Stalking

stalking

Know what stalking is

Stalking is defined as threats, along with repeated harassing behavior that cause a person to fear for his or her personal safety. It can include the use of regular mail, e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, posting on social websites and/or faxes. Stalking and cyber stalking are behaviors prohibited by University policy and New Hampshire law and are a crime.

Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. Although women are more likely to be stalked than men, anyone can be a victim of stalking, including college students from any economic, ethnic, or religious group. 

The vast majority of stalking victims know their stalker, usually because they have had a relationship with him or her. The stalker can be an intimate partner or former partner, classmate, roommate, or other acquaintance. A victim can be stalked for several days or for many years. The stalker’s actions also can affect family, friends, and coworkers. Stalking can be difficult to distinguish, which contributes to a lack of public awareness about the crime of stalking.


Know the signs of a stalker

  • Repeatedly call and text 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 our phone calls, computer use, or social network account
  • Hack into your social networking accounts (Facebook) or email (see how to protect yourself on Facebook here)
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go
  • Drive by or hang out at your apartment/residence hall, outside your classroom or at your work
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets
  • Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring private investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting your friends, classmates, family, neighbors, or co-workers
  • Other actions that control or frighten you.

What you should do if you are being stalked

If you are in IMMEDIATE DANGER, call 911

Trust your INSTICTS. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are. Take THREATS seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about harming themselves or someone else, or when a victim/survivor tries to leave or end a relationship

Contact us at SHARPP. We can assist in helping you devise a personal safety plan, provide you with information about local laws and University policies, and provide support and advocacy.

Develop a SAFETY PLAN. Include things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your apartment/residence hall, classroom, work, or somewhere else. Let your friends know how they can help you.

Don’t COMMUNICATE with the stalker or respond to their attempts to contact you. Communicating with them will only encourage them to continue.

Tell FAMILY, FRIENDS, and OTHERS YOU TRUST about the stalking and seek their support.

Keep EVIDENCE by doucmenting the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, keep a log of the time, date, place and other details you may find of importance. Keep all e-mails, phone messages, letters, notes or Facebook messages. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries they may cause. Ask witnesses to also write down what they saw. Keeping this information is very helpful if you decide to get a protective order.

Contact the UNH POLICE. The University Police can assist you with understanding and taking action if the stalker has broken the law. Remember, every state has stalking laws, including New Hampshire. If you don’t want to contact the Police alone, consider contacting SHARPP for assistance.

Consider getting a COURT ORDER/PROTECTIVE ORDER that tells the stalker to stay away from you. If you aren’t ready to get a court order/protective order, the Police can also send the stalker a “Stalking Letter” that informs them to stay away from you or else other action will be taken.

Get CAMPUS SUPPORT. The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves being followed or having one’s property destroyed. [1] There are many services on campus that are here to offer you support. The Counseling Center provides individualized counseling, Health Services provides education and counseling. If you need help finding support at UNH, contact SHARPP.

Also, the National Center for Victims of Crime partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women to create the Stalking Resource Center (SRC). Visit these websites for more information.


How to help a friend who is being stalked

  • If your friend tells you they are being stalked: Believe them. Your friend needs to be believed and supported.

  • It is never the fault of the victim for being stalked. Stalking has nothing to do with the victim's behavior, actions or the reality of the situation.

  • Support and understanding are essential. Stalking, like relationship abuse & sexual assault can cause depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, sleeping problems etc. Let your friend talk as much as or as little as they need to. It is important that you listen and believe them.

  • Do not respond to the stalker. Any response from you can be misinterpreted by the stalker and may even encourage the stalker. Contact with the stalker can put you or your friend in further danger.

  • Advise your friend to keep evidence and document everything. You can also document any incidence of stalking that you witness. Tell you friend to keep a log of the time, date, place and other details they may find of importance. Tell them keep all e-mails, phone messages, letters, notes or social media messages. Tell them to photograph any damages to their personal possessions and any injuries they may have incurred.

  • Respect Privacy. Stalkers can be very clever about getting information so do not give any information out about your friend, no matter what the stalker might say.

  • Help them feel safe. Offer to spend time with your friend so they do not have to be alone.

  • Refer your friend to SHARPP. We can assist in helping your friend devise a personal safety plan, provide them with information about local laws and University policies, and provide support and advocacy. We can assess the situation and refer your friend to counseling, legal aid, provide escort on campus and be a safe place on campus where their needs will be heard and responded to.

  • Get Support for Yourself.
    Sometimes the friends of victims can also feel the impact of the crime, and experience emotional and physical reactions. This is called secondary victimization. Hearing about stalking can be upsetting. You may feel angry, sad, frustrated, and helpless. If you have experienced crime or other traumatic events in the past, your friend’s experience might bring up memories and feelings of that time. You may want to talk about your feelings but also respect your friend’s privacy. You too can contact SHARPP and speak to an advocate confidentially. You can also use our online service Ask An Advocate and send us a question online.

 

1 Eric Blauuw et al., “The Toll of Stalking,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, no. 1 (2002):50-63