Learning what it is and how to stop it

Friday, January 25, 2019

It’s January, and as we are all back on campus, it’s a good time to look at the world around us.

I’m Colleen Spear '21, and I am the new marketing and communications assistant for the Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) for this semester. I have volunteered for SHARPP as a community educator and am so excited to try on this new role.

This month, SHARPP and many others are working on raising awareness about stalking. Stalking can be hard to distinguish or define, which means that it doesn’t get talked about often. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Stalking ia threats, along with repeated harassing behavior, that cause a person to fear for their personal safety.

A banner that says Stalking. Know It. Name It. Stop It.

Stalking can be a whole range of behaviors, and that list of behaviors gets longer as technology creates new ways for people to interact. A stalker might damage your property, use a GPS to track you or repeatedly call and text you. They might monitor your phone use, send unwanted gifts or threaten to hurt people close to you. The actions are meant to control and frighten an individual.

A key piece to understanding stalking is the timing. No case of stalking is trivial or unimportant. It does not need to last for years to be considered a serious issue. A person can be stalked for several days, months or years. Stalkers can be anyone, though a vast majority of survivors know their stalker. The stalker could be a former partner or classmate. Nothing — no relationship, timeframe or excuse — makes stalking acceptable. It is not allowed under UNH policy. Under New Hampshire law, it is a crime.

A graphic showing a photo of Debbie Riddle

Peggy Klinke was 28 when she left an abusive relationship. Her struggle did not end there, as her former partner proceeded to stalk her for more than one year. He killed her before taking his own life. Since then, her sister Debbie Riddle has made it her mission to help stalking survivors and bring awareness to the issue.

She will speak on campus on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

If you or someone you know is being stalked, SHARPP is a good resource for help and support. You can visit the SHARPP Office located at Wolff House on campus next to Health & Wellness or go to unh.edu/sharpp/stalking for more information. Calling the 24-hour helpline at 603-862-7233 can connect you to a trained advocate who can help you. The number is also available on the back of student ID cards.