Stalking Q&A with UCPD's Crime Victim Services Coordinator
National Stalking Month may be over, but stalking is a problem year-round. The following Q&A with UC’s Crime Victim Service’s Coordinator, Jennifer Rowe, explains stalking and what to do if you believe you are being stalked.
Q: What types of stalking are students typically a victim of?
A: In my experience, students typically deal with unwanted and persistent phone calls or text messages, receiving unwanted letters, gifts and messages, and the offender showing up at the student’s residence, workplace or a social event the student is at in order to have contact.
One example is a student receiving letters and gifts at his residence from someone he met at his job, which makes him fearful because he did not tell the person where he lived. Another is a student’s ex-boyfriend showing up outside her class multiple times, even after she told him that she did not want further contact. He may approach her, or just stand there without saying anything.
Q: How “bad” does it have to get before it’s considered stalking?
A: The definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that creates an implicit or explicit threat and induces fear or concern for personal safety or the safety of close others.
It’s difficult to give an example because each case has different behaviors, but if you feel threatened or fearful, we recommend reaching out.
Q: If I think I have a stalker, what should I do?
A: First, talk to someone about it, whether it’s a parent, friend or law enforcement. If you talk to law enforcement, an officer can make a record. Even if there is nothing law enforcement can legally do at first, if the conduct continues they will be aware and can move forward.
Also, document everything. Keep track of any time the person contacts you, what was said and where the contact was. Save any letters, emails or texts, anything that can show a pattern of conduct.
In addition, be aware of your safety. Seek support, and use resources such as the UC Shuttle, NightRide and Bearcat Guardian so you are not alone and have witnesses.
Q: If I think my friend has a stalker, what should I do?
A: Be supportive. Offer to help them reach out to law enforcement or advocates. If you have seen any of the stalking behavior, offer to be a witness if needed. Let them know that they do not have to deal with this on their own.
Q: How can I stay safe from a stalker?
A: You have options. You can file a police report and possibly criminal charges. Also, you can file for an Order of Protection through the courts. A stalking protection order is a court order that tells the subject that they cannot have any contact with the victim. If they violate the order, they can go to jail.
Q: How do I stay safe online from a stalker?
A: Be aware of what you are posting online. Identifying information in photos can help a stalker find a victim’s residence hall, address, work place, etc.