January 2019 marks the fifteenth anniversary of National Stalking Awareness Month.
Stalking is a pattern of behavior, directed at a specific individual, that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. A pattern is two or more instances involving any of a wide range of behaviors, including:
- Following, showing up, or waiting for someone.
- Sending unwanted communications.
- Leaving gifts.
- Damaging someone’s property.
- Threatening someone, their loved ones, or their pets.
- Monitoring, tracking, or researching a person.
- Hiring or recruiting someone to track or research someone.
- Contacting friends, family, or colleagues to learn about someone or their whereabouts.
- Spreading rumors or otherwise defaming someone’s character.
Some of these behaviors are crimes on their own. But even if the individual behaviors are not criminal, the pattern of behavior may be.
Stalkers may be acquaintances, current or former intimate partners, or someone unknown to the target of the unwanted attention.
Stalkers often seek to maintain, reestablish, or create a relationship with the target. Depending on the medium through which unwanted communication is received, the victim may not know the identity of a stalker. Stalking behaviors that utilize technology and do not involve direct communication can go unnoticed and undetected for long periods of time.
According to the Stalking Resource Center at The National Center for Victims of Crime and the Stalking Prevention and Awareness Resource Center (SPARC):
- Five million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
- Almost 70 percent of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method.
- Over 85 percent of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.
- Persons aged 18–24 experience the highest rate of stalking.
Concerns and fears should be taken seriously around this issue. There are many precautions and safety measures that can be taken if you, or someone you know, is being stalked:
- Consider reporting to the police.
- Consider filing for a Stalking Order of Protection.
- Keep track of incidents on a Stalking Incident and Behavior Log.
- Tell friends, colleagues, and people with authority about your situation.
- If possible, show others a picture of the person who is engaged in stalking behavior.
- Maintain all evidence or photographs of evidence, including all unwanted communications.
- Change your routes and routines.
- Change your passwords.
- Change your phone number.
- Disable location services on your devices.
- Block the person on your devices and social media accounts.
- Engage in safety planning.
- Refrain from, or end, any contact with the person.
- Do not post plans or your location on social media.
- Take personal information off of websites and social media.
- Do not assume the behavior will diminish over time or stop on its own.
Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act require schools that receive federal funding to offer sexual violence prevention programs and training that include information about stalking. Health Promotion and Wellness offers numerous workshops, by request, that provide education on this subject.
About Health Promotion and Wellness
Health Promotion and Wellness provide wellness information, services, and programming to students, faculty, staff, and the Illinois State community addressing a variety of topics such as sleep, stress management, nutrition, physical activity, and violence prevention. People living, learning, and working in a safe and healthy environment are more likely to reach their highest potential. For more information, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu or stop by 187 McCormick Hall.