What is Stalking?
Stalking is a course of harassing, threatening, or unwanted behavior that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress or fear for their safety or the safety of others.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, emails, or other items
- Repeated, unwanted contact via phone, text, social media, etc.
- Monitor phone calls, phone use or computer use
- Use technology, such as camera, spyware, or GPA to track someone
- Threaten to hurt someone, their family, friends, or pets
- Show up uninvited at a workplace, residence, classroom, or other location
- Damage or steal property, trespass, or vandalize
- Post information, threats, or spread rumors about someone on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten someone
*Information is from the Stalking Resource Center*
If you or someone you know is being stalked, they may exhibit some of these common reactions:
- Feel vulnerable, unsafe, and fearful
- Feel anxious, irritable, impatient, frustrated
- Feel depressed, overwhelmed, or angry
- Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping, eating, or remembering things
- Feel confused and isolated
*Information from the Stalking Resource Center
- 7.5 million people are stalked each year nationally
- Individuals 18-24 years old experience the highest rates of stalking
- Approximately 16% of women and 5% of men have experienced stalking at some point in their lifetime
- Approximately 1 in 3 bisexual women experience stalking in their lifetime compared to 1 in 6 heterosexual women
- Nearly 85% of people who are stalked know their offender, which could include a current or former intimate partner, acquaintance, relative, etc.
Sources: Stalking Resource Center and NISVS (2010)
Tips for Staying Safe
- Trust your instincts and treat all threats as legitimate
- If in immediate danger, contact the police or locate a safe place (e.g. police station, shelter, residence of family or friends)
- Keep a record of each contact with the stalker
- Save emails, messages, photos, or other contact from the stalker
- Get connected with a local advocate to talk through options and discuss safety planning
- Vary routines and routes to work or school
- Avoid interacting with the person who is stalking or harassing you as this could reinforce their behavior
- In some cases, it may be helpful to get an unlisted phone number, change passwords, or use a public computer
- Identify and rely on trusted people to help
- Consider obtaining a 258E protective order
- Remember: The survivor knows their situation best & can decide what is safest for them
Source: Stalking Resource Center
Did You Know?
- You can take criminal action and report to the police. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states.
- You can take civil action in court and request a Harassment Prevention Order no matter what your relationship is with your stalker. This is called a 258E in Massachusetts.
- Some myths suggest that stalking only happens between strangers or in intimate relationships. This is not true. A stalker can be an acquaintance, friend, classmate, relative, former or current intimate partner, or someone else.
- 13 % of women report being stalked while at college
- 25% of women ages 18-24 have been stalked online
- 11% of victims were stalked for 5 years or more
Source: Stalking Resource Center NSAM 2017
Tips for Technology Safety
- Be aware of any apps you are unfamiliar with on your phone.
- Disable the location on your phone and computer.
- Do not open any links, emails, or attachments from someone who may be stalking you. It could contain spyware or other harmful technology.
- Spyware and other software can be difficult to detect. Some signs include the battery draining more quickly, increase in data usage, buzzing noises, and the phone may be hot.
- Try to protect personal information (passwords, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) and limit who you share this information with.
- If you are concerned that your phone or computer has harmful technology, you can contact the police or a local advocate such as UP or PEAR.
Source: National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
How to Help a Friend
- Listen and validate their feelings
- Take their concerns seriously
- Don’t blame them for the stalker’s behavior
- Show support and ask them how you can be helpful
- Respect your friend’s choices. They know their situation best
- Become familiar with available resources
- Take steps to ensure your own safety and seek help for yourself if needed
If you or someone you know is being stalked, contact one of these resources for support, education about stalking, and to understand your options:
On Campus Confidential Resources:
- PEAR Confidential Advocate: 978.594.7089 (call or text)
- Counseling and Health Services: 978.542.6410
On-Campus Non-Confidential Resources:
- University Police: 978.542.6111 (24/7 Emergency Line)
- Dean of Students Office: 978.542.6401
- Residence Life: 978.542.6416
- HAWC: 800.547.1647 (27/4 hotline)
- Victim Connect Hotline: 855.484.2846
- Stalking Resource Center
This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-WA-AX-0021 awarded by the Office of Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and recommendations expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women.