What is stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of behaviors done by one person in order to alarm, frighten, control, pursue, or terrorize another person. Stalking is legally defined as:
- repeated contact (2 or more times)
- unwanted contact (offender knows it was unwanted)
- contact that is “alarming” to the person experiencing it
Stalking can include any of the following behaviors:
- · being followed
- · showing up at the same places as you
- · hang-up phone calls
- · emails, text messages, repeated Facebook messages, and other attempts to connect/harass through social networking
- · leaving cards or notes
- · leaving “presents” (like flowers) that you don’t want or understand
- · vandalism; breaking into your home
- · physical/sexual assault, homicide
Who is vulnerable?
Everyone is vulnerable. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. Anyone can be a victim of stalking. Stalkers choose victims that they think are “accessible” and “vulnerable.” They choose victims based on whether they can “get away with it.” Examples include a person who will not be believed, or someone who is unable to enforce clear boundaries. Stalking is a form of power over someone else’s life and is an abusive behavior. The behavior of stalking is intended to control, frighten, and harm the victim. It is a crime!
Research has shown that women getting out of an abusive relationship and college students are particularly vulnerable for being a victim of stalking. 52% of victims of stalking are 18 to 29 years of age. According to a National College Women Victimization study, 22% of women may be stalked at any time during college…this is not including male victims. In that same study, it was reported that, of those women, nearly 49% were stalked by a college acquaintance. The majority of the rest of the stalkers were reported as classmates or ex-boyfriends.
Who is the “typical stalker?”
The stalker can be anyone. There is no significant difference in race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation or educational background. Although gender does not predict stalking behavior, it is reported that as high as 87% of stalkers are men. In general, the majority of victims personally knows or is acquainted with their stalker. This is true for the college population as well.
What can you do?
If you or someone you know is being stalked, there are some steps you can take. Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. The following steps may be taken to increase your safety:
- Know it is not your fault. Victims often blame themselves for a stalker’s behavior. You didn’t cause a stalker’s behavior, you cannot control it, and rarely can you stop it yourself.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe or threatened, you probably are.
- Take threats seriously. Tell your family, friends, coworkers, roommates, etc. about the stalker. Give a description of the stalker to your landlord or work manager. Get support from the people around you in all contexts of your life.
- Know that stalking is not a form of romantic pursuit. It is not cute, funny, or intriguing. You are not being “chased.” It is stalking, and it is dangerous.
- End the relationship. If you are ending an abusive relationship, make it clear that it is over and be done. Do not worry about their feelings or “letting him/her down easily.”
- Do not continue to communicate with the stalker.
- Develop a safety plan. Arrange for a safe place to stay, have people go with you when you leave your home, carry your cell phone at all times, etc.
- Document everything. Write down all the evidence of the stalking as you experience it. This includes emails, text messages, and phone calls, where you saw him/her. Get witnesses to write down what they saw/heard. Take pictures of vandalized property. Every documented incidence is crucial in developing a legal case for protection.
- Know your resources. Below are contact numbers and resources that will be helpful for a stalking victim.
- If you ever feel that you are in immediate danger, CALL 911!
Resources for victims of stalking:
EOU Resources: Community Resources:
Student Health Center Shelter from the Storm Office
Counseling Center Contact 541-963-7226
541-962-3524 24 Hotline 541-963-9261
*Will assist in stalking/restraining orders at no cost!
Director of Student Relations Union County Victim Assistance
541- 962-3635 Office of District Attorney
La Grande Police
Grande Ronde Hospital Emergency Room
Center of Human Development
The National Center for Victims of Crimes:
Stalking Resource Center Website
Information provided by:
OHSU Nursing Student