Stalking

Stalking Defined

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior (or a series of actions) directed at a specific person that cause that individual to feel afraid or in danger. Examples include but are not limited to:  threatening, repeated harassing behavior that causes a person to fear for their personal safety, unwanted contact, monitoring, unwelcome appearances or following

Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. Anyone can be a victim of stalking, regardless of their gender identity, sexuality, ability status, race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, etc. However, research shows that those who come from oppressed and marginalized backgrounds and identities are at an increased risk of experiecning higher rates of stalking/violence. 

The vast majority of stalking victims know their stalker, usually because they have had a relationship with them. The stalker can be an intimate partner or former partner, classmate, roommate, or other acquaintance. A victim can be stalked for several days or for many years. The stalker’s actions also can affect family, friends, and coworkers. Stalking can be difficult to distinguish, which contributes to a lack of public awareness about the crime of stalking. 

Statistics

6.6 million people were stalked in 1 year in the US

  • An estimated 6-7.5 million people are stalked in a one year period in the United States [1]
  • People aged 18-24 have the highest rate of stalking victimization [3]
  • A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. However, the majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know- often times, by a current or former intimate partner [3] 
  • More than 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of technology was used [4]
  • 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result of their victimization and more than half lose 5 days of work or more [4]
  • 1 in 7 stalking victims have to move as a result of their victimization [4]
  • Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before [5]

More Statistics & Information on Stalking


Know the signs of a stalker 

  • Repeatedly call and text you, including hang-ups 
  • Follow you and show up wherever you are
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails
  • Damage your home, car, or other property
  • Monitor your phone calls, computer use, or social media account
  • Hack into your social media accounts or email
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go
  • Drive by or hang out at your apartment/residence hall, outside your classroom or at your work
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets
  • Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring private investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting your friends, classmates, family, neighbors, or co-workers
  • Other actions that control or frighten you. 

Know what you should do if you are being stalked:

Trust your instincts- don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are. Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about harming themselves or someone else, or when a victim/survivor tries to leave or end a relationship.

Contact us at SHARPP. We can assist in helping you devise a personal safety plan, provide you with information about local laws and University policies, and provide support services.

Develop a SAFETY PLAN. Include things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your apartment/residence hall, classroom, work, or somewhere else. Let your friends know how they can help you.

Tell family, friends, and others you trust about the stalking and seek their support.

Keep documentation for evidence of the stalking. Keep a log of the time, date, and location and keep e-mails, messages, texts, etc. Photograph damages and any injuries. This information is helpful if you decide to get a protective order.

Contact a safe helping professional, whether that be a confidential advocate, therapist, social worker, or police officer. Various helping professionals can assist you with support services, safety planning, and/or taking legal action should you want to take that course. Remember, every state has stalking laws, including New Hampshire.

Consider getting a court order/protective order that tells the stalker to stay away from you. If you aren’t ready to get a court order/protective order, the Police can also send the stalker a “Stalking Letter” that informs them to stay away from you or else other action will be taken.

Campus Support

The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves being followed or having one’s property destroyed [6]. There are many services on campus that are here to offer you support. UNH Psychological and Counseling Services provides individualized counseling, Health & Wellness provides medical services, and wellness counseling & coaching.

If you or someone you know is a victim of stalking SHARPP is an available resource to you. 

Off Campus Support

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (NHCADSV)
Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN)
Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center (SPARC)
Stalking Resource Center (SRC)


Know how to help a friend who is being stalked

  • If your friend tells you they are being stalked: Believe them. Your friend needs to be believed and supported.

  • It is never the fault of the victim for being stalked. Stalking has nothing to do with the victim's behavior, actions or the reality of the situation.

  • Support and understanding are essential. Stalking, like relationship abuse & sexual assault, can cause depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, sleeping problems, etc. Let your friend talk as much as or as little as they need to. It is important that you provide a safe and judgement-free space for them.

  • Do not respond to the stalker. Any response from you can be misinterpreted by the stalker and may even encourage or escalate the stalker. Contact with the stalker can put you or your friend in further danger.

  • Advise your friend to keep evidence and document everything. You can also document any incidence of stalking that you witness. Tell your friend to keep a log of the time, date, place and other details they may find of importance. Tell them to keep all e-mails, phone messages, letters, notes or social media messages. Tell them to photograph any damages to their personal possessions and any injuries they may have incurred.

  • Respect Privacy. Stalkers can be very clever about getting information so do not give any information out about your friend, no matter what the stalker might say.

  • Help them feel safe. Offer to spend time with your friend so they do not have to be alone.

  • Refer your friend to SHARPP. We can assist in helping your friend devise a personal safety plan, provide them with information about local laws and University policies, and provide support and advocacy. We can assess the situation and refer your friend to counseling, legal aid, provide an escort on campus and be a safe place on campus where their needs will be heard and responded to.
     

  • Get Support for Yourself.
    Sometimes the friends of victims can also feel the impact of the crime, and experience emotional and physical reactions. This is called secondary victimization. Hearing about stalking can be upsetting. You may feel angry, sad, frustrated, and helpless. If you have experienced crime or other traumatic events in the past, your friend’s experience might bring up memories and feelings of that time. You may want to talk about your feelings but also respect your friend’s privacy. You too can contact SHARPP and speak to an advocate confidentially. You can also use our online webchat and text services. 

1 Eric Blauuw et al., “The Toll of Stalking,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, no. 1 (2002):50-63


CyberSafe at UNH

Learn how to keep yourself safe with technology.

Cyber Safety Tips

Technology is often misused by abusive partners. Spyware/computer and phone monitoring software enables a person to secretly monitor someone else’s computer activity and access your webcam on your devices. It can be installed remotely by sending an email, photo, or instant message and it runs hidden on a computer.

Everyone deserves to feel safe when accessing online resources or using social media.
Below are some tips on how to keep yourself safe.

  • If you are in IMMEDIATE DANGER, call 911
  • Trust your INSTINCTS. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are. If someone knows too much about your computer activity, your computer maybe monitored.
  • Don’t open any attachments if you don’t know the sender, or you suspect abuse. Instead, delete the attachment or have IT staff look at it.
  • Consider changing passwords and creating new accounts on another computer. Don’t access those accounts or use those passwords on the monitored computer.

Social Media Safety

Social media platforms have become a big part of our online lives. Social networks are a great way to stay connected with friends and family but they can also be misused by abusers, stalkers, and perpetartors. Cyber-stalking is an incredibly common and dangerous form of violence that can surface in a myriad of ways. 

Cyber-Security:

  • Privacy and security settings are for your safety: Periodically review the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post so you can control your online experience.
  • Know and manage your friends and followers: Remember that there are ways on most social media sites for you to check-in on who follows you. Most platforms allow blocking, friend removal, and content hiding should you want/need to use those features.
  • Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, (if possible) remove them from your friend's list, block them and report them to the site administrator.
  • Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or seems inappropriate, let them know or ask for them to remove the post all together. 

Citations:

1 The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2015 Data Brief. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2 Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center (2021).
3 Catalano, S., Smith, E., Snyder, H. & Rand, M. (2009). Bureau of Justice Statistics selected findings: Female victims of violence. Retrieved from bjs. gov/content/pub/pdf/fvv.pdf
4 Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).
5 Kris Mohandie et al.,“The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Based upon a Large Sample of North American Stalkers,” Journal of Forensic Sciences, 51, no. 1 (2006).
6 Eric Blauuw et al., “The Toll of Stalking,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, no. 1 (2002):50-63.