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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Reduce risk of stalking through awareness

Does this sound familiar? For a while now, someone you know has been calling you repeatedly and inquiring about your whereabouts. Sometimes, the caller hangs up immediately after you answer the phone. You are receiving unwanted e-mails, letters and gifts. You even suspect that your e-mail and Facebook accounts are being monitored. In other words, you are being stalked.

Each year, 3.4 million people are stalked in the United States. While stalking definitions vary by state, Wisconsin defines stalking as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable individual to feel fear, oftentimes including many of the behaviors indicated above. The stalker may be a stranger, but three in four stalking victims know their offender. Unfortunately, most victims do not report the stalking to law enforcement, and the statistics are even more discouraging on college campuses. In a year-long study of 223 colleges done in 2000, over 83 percent of stalking incidents were not reported to police or campus law enforcement.

Why would stalking victims choose not to report their stalker? There are several barriers that would prevent victims from reporting the perpetrator to law enforcement. Victims may feel as though stalking is not a serious crime, or fear that law enforcement would not take them seriously. They may think they lack sufficient evidence, fear retaliation from the stalker or even feel remorse for the stalker if it is an acquaintance, former intimate partner or someone with whom they are currently involved. Let me repeat myself: even a current boyfriend or girlfriend could stalk you! If your partner is monitoring where you are and who you are with, checking your text messages, dropping by to check if you are really where you say you are, then he or she may be stalking you.

While students often joke about ""Facebook stalking"" as something we all do, there is a point at which the so-called ""Facebook stalking"" crosses the line of acceptable behavior and must be addressed as a serious issue. In fact, one in four stalking victims report being stalked through the use of some technology. If someone is using Facebook to monitor your every move and this causes you to feel fear, it is considered stalking. This may be fear of not knowing what will happen next, of bodily harm to you or others, of death, of the behavior never stopping—whatever you are feeling, you have the right to live your life without fearing the stalker's next move.

There are several things you can do if you are a victim of stalking. You may choose to call a friend or family member for support. You can confront the stalker yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so. You may also contact the local police department and talk about your options with them. Whether you decide to take no action or go ahead with a restraining order, the decision is completely yours to make. It may also be helpful to keep a journal and log all stalking behaviors, including their date, time, and a short description of the incident.

In addition, it is important to save all text messages or online messages from the stalker. While it may be inconvenient, changing your phone number and passwords for your accounts may be helpful in protecting your privacy. In addition, the Offices of the Dean of Students (ODOS) are an excellent resource for students on campus. They can assist you with safety planning and can even contact the stalker on your behalf and issue a no-contact order.

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If you are a victim of stalking, you are not alone, and there are many resources on campus that can help you get your life back in order. Stalking is a serious crime. Please join us in the fight to address it!

Sapir Sasson is the media advocate for PAVE. This article was written as a collaboration of PAVE staff. If you have any questions, please contact uwpavechair@gmail.com or stop by the PAVE office at the Student Activity Center, office #3147.

 

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