The Reality of Stalking in College
MINJI SON With the rise of social media outlets such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, it has become much easier to locate a person and access their personal information. Annually, 7.5 million people are stalked, yet many students believe it is uncommon and will not happen to them. However, most victims are between the ages 18-24, and 1 in 6 female college students and 1 in 19 male college students are stalked each year.
Contrary to popular belief, most victims are already acquainted with their stalkers. In many cases, the victim and the offender intimately know each other and stalking usually occurs when the victim attempts to leave the relationship.
Stalking usually consists of the offender following the victim home and to other places. However, any repeated harassment can be considered stalking whether it is following a person home, making harassing calls, leaving unwanted messages or presents, or vandalizing property. The stalker does not have to make a direct threat for it to be considered stalking. In fact, less than half of the reported cases involve a direct threat of violence. Having a high level of fear is enough for the victim to legitimize the threat and call the police. On average, stalking cases last about 2 years, but can go on for longer. If you suspect that you are being stalked, notify the police immediately.
If you are being stalked, take the following measures to deal with the situation:
- Notify the police and set up a protection program.
- Notify teachers, family members, and friends of the situation.
- Keep and record all gifts, messages, and phone calls made by the stalker.
- Try to record the date, time, and location every time you see the offender.
- Do not go out alone and to isolated places.
- Always lock the door and windows, and close the blinds.
You should never, EVER, try to confront or make contact with the stalker, even if you know the offender. Stalkers do not have respect for you or your privacy so there is no knowing what he or she will do. Do not try to take matters into your own hands; rely on other people and the police for protection and help. You can also call the UTPD (512-471-4441), the UT Crisis Help Center (512 471-3515), and the Crime Victims Hotline (1-866-689-4357). If you are in any immediate danger, call 911.