Stalking is a pattern of legal and/or illegal goal-directed behavior which can be influenced by an irrational and/or delusional thought process. Stalkers have an emotional obsession with the victim and tend to hold a selfish perception of the relationship. Through stalking they empower themselves to feel omnipotent and in control of the relationship while creating a state of vulnerability in the other person.
The legal definition of stalking is “willful, malicious and repeated following and harassment combined with the credible threat intended to make the victim fear death or serious injury.” Stalking behavior includes following the victim to school, the theater, the grocery store, home, etc.; electronically tracking the location of the victim; repeated harassing attempts to communicate via phone, text, social media, e-mail, FAX, or letters; giving of unwanted gifts; vandalizing the victim’s property; and unwanted hyper-attentiveness to the victim.
Stalkers can be male or female and their targets can be members of the same or opposite sex. If you become aware of a student who is feeling unsafe around another person and believes s/he is being stalked:
- Encourage the student to trust his/her instincts.
- Advise the student to call the BYU Police, 801.422.2222.
- Refer the student to Counseling and Psychological Services 801.422.3035.
- Refer the student to the Dean of Students Office, 801.422.4771.
- If appropriate, refer the student to the Title IX Coordinator, at 801.422.2130.
- Advise the student to document each stalking incident and save correspondence so it may be used as evidence.
- Encourage the student to educate themselves on the use of technology in stalking. Sites such as http://www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org/ and http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center/help-for-victims may be helpful places to start.
- Advise the student to walk with an escort whenever possible. University Safewalk escorts can be reached at 801.422.2222.
- Ignore or minimize the situation.
- Blame the student for inviting the obsession.
- Feel responsible for protecting the student.