Stalking at college can happen to anyone, student or otherwise, and you don't have to be on campus for it to happen.
You may have been feeling uncomfortable about a recent date's behavior or maybe you're hearing from a new friend a little too much lately.
These five things can be useful to know if you or someone you know thinks you might be being stalked on your college campus:
KEEP A JOURNAL OF WHAT'S HAPPENING TO YOU
No detail or concern is too small. Anything that raises a flag with you, just add it to your journal. It doesn't matter if it isn't used at a later date. Be sure to include the time, date and place of when they make contact. This can really help any subsequent investigation, if you choose to bring it to the attention of law enforcement or your school. Document emails, text messages, social media posts, messages, voicemails, letters - or any other form of unwanted communication. This is helpful to build a picture of what's been happening.
WHERE ARE YOU ONLINE AND WHAT CAN PEOPLE SEE?
Social media can be a catalyst for stalkers to track down their victims, especially because in many apps, users choose to share their locations. Unwanted monitoring of someone’s social media accounts, physically following someone, sending unwanted gifts, repeatedly contacting someone - are a few examples of stalking behaviors. It's very easy build a picture a someone and their life by looking up what presence they have on social. Lock your accounts down to people you know and think about your location settings and the photos you get tagged in.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH YOUR CAMPUS’S SAFETY AND REPORTING POLICIES
Campus safety professionals can help victims of stalking by devising safety plans for victims which includes relocating to a different living space if needed. Establishing and maintaining a clear procedure for victims to report can facilitate a supportive, safe environment for reporting.
Finally, distributing tips and materials to help students, faculty and staff to identify stalking behaviors - and what to do if they recognize this behavior. If you know someone who is a victim of stalking, remind them they are not alone.
REVIEW YOUR STATES' INFORMATION ON STALKING
Stalking is a crime in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories. The Clery Act requires that institutions report incidents of sexual violence to the federal government, and in turn it makes the information available to the public. The Clery Act defines stalking as:
“Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (1) Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or (2) Suffer substantial emotional distress.”
Don't be scared to share. You may not feel ready to go to your campus police department or a school official but there is always someone you can speak to - tell a friend or counselor to get a second opinion and support. You may not be the only one that is going through this. Read more about helping victims of campus stalking here.