Stalking is a course of conduct, targeted at a particular person that causes a reasonable person to feel fear. Most stalkers are male and the victims are female. When men are stalked, it is often by former intimate partners. On college campuses, the stalker is often not a stranger to the victim. Four out of five campus victims know their attackers.1 These perpetrators have an intimate relationship or close friendship; they may be classmates, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances or related to their victims. Stalkers may have traits such as jealousy, narcissism, obsession, compulsion, manipulation, deception and control.
Stalkers now use more complex methods to go after their victims. Perpetrators often use technology such as GPS, phones, cameras, computers, etc. to facilitate both direct and indirect contact with victims. However, stalkers also utilize traditional methods such as following victims or their loved ones. Examples of stalking are:
- receiving numerous unwanted calls, texts or emails
- repeated indirect contact with the victim’s loved ones in order to portray a message or threat
- finding notes of messages on your door or windshield (not necessarily threatening notes)
- “coincidental” run-ins with the same individual on multiple occasions
- being followed or watched, either physically or electronically
- finding the same person outside your work, class, or home when you leave or arrive
Some stalkers never escalate beyond unwanted indirect contact, but others may cause serious financial, emotional, sexual or physical harm to the victim. There is no way to tell for sure whether a stalker will give up easily or engage in criminal activities such as stealing the victim’s identity, destroying his or her property, and/or using violence.
1 Fisher, B.S., Cullen, F.T., & Turner, M.G. (1999). The Extent and Nature of the Sexual Victimization of College Women: A National-level Analysis. (Final report submitted to the Nationals Institute of Justice, NCJ 179977). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 28, Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf
What can you do if you or someone you know is being stalked?
- It is important to seek support to understand what your options are and talk about how the incident(s) impacted you. Contact NOVA’s Sexual Assault Services (SAS) by calling or texting 703.338.0834 (24 hours a day) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Being violated sexually is a crime and against NOVA student conduct policy. For more information on NOVA’s obligation under Title IX to address instances of sexual misconduct, see the Title IX Policy on Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking.
- You have the right to file a police report or to file a complaint with your Dean of Student’s office or the Title IX Coordinator.
- Document all instances of stalking in a log.
- Tell your loved ones that you are being stalked and provide them with any information you have about the stalker, including their picture.
- Save a copy of all emails, texts and other messages received by the stalker both in physical format (ex. taking a picture or screen shot of messages) and in electronic format (ex. saving a copy in your phone or email).
- In case of an emergency, first call 911 or notify campus police at 703.764.5000.
- If you are a victim of stalking, know that it is never your fault and there are resources available to you.