A Her Campus UFL Guide to Stalking

 

Alright collegiettes, it’s time to get real for a second.January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a nationwide effort to raise awareness and provide support for victims. A study recently updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last semester discovered that roughly 15.2 percent of women (18.3 million) have experienced some sort of stalking in one’s lifetime. That’s three times more than men! It can be a scary world out there, but hopefully this guide will help you learn more and answer whatever questions you may have.

What is stalking?Stalking, wherever you may be in the U.S., is considered a violent crime.Minky Mechanic, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri at St. Louis, describes stalking as a repetitive pattern of unwanted, harassing or threatening behavior done by one person to another. This includes unwanted contact either online, over text messages, phone calls or in person; unwanted gifts; following/surveillance behaviors; property damage; assault and more.

What should I do if I feel like I’m being stalked?If you are in immediate danger, call 911!If you are not in immediate danger, here are some suggested steps that you can take:1. Do not downplay the danger. This is serious! Trust your instincts if you don’t feel safe.2. Reach out to a crisis hotline. They are there to help.3. Develop a safety plan. This can include changing your typical routes or having friends accompany you places. Do not hesitate to seek the support of loved ones.4. Do not under any circumstances communicate with the stalker.5. Keep as much evidence of the stalking as you can. This includes gifts, texts and emails.6. Contact the police. Remember: Stalking is a violent crime and should be dealt with as such.7. Consider getting a court order. It may seem like a lot of trouble, but it’s worth it.

Someone close to me is a victim of stalking. What can I do to help?The simple answer is to just be supportive. Provide security and love. Try your best to help them through this tough time, and whatever you do, do not accuse the victim of anything. It is not their fault.

What resources are available locally?The University of Florida Police Department has lots of interpersonal violence resources that can be found here, and Alachua County has additional services listed here. These include legal assistance, reporting and education as well as counseling and medical care.Again, if you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, please dial 911 or contact the Alachua County Crisis Center immediately at (352) 264-6789.

Stay safe, ladies, and remember: Don’t ever be afraid to speak up if something is wrong. Help is always just around the corner.

Photo credit:mbcnewyork.com