January marks the beginning of National Stalking Awareness month. It is estimated that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men will experience stalking in their lifetime, with over 80% of stalkers being an acquaintance (classmate, friend, co-worker, neighbor) or intimate partner of the victim. Young adults ages 18-24 experience the highest rates of stalking victimization than any other group, especially on college campuses.
Stalking is a form of violence/abuse and is a crime in all 50 states.Stalking victims can experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions as a result.
Stalking behaviors are unwanted, obsessive, and repeated. These behaviors can include:
Unwanted contact with the victim or their family and friends
Leaving voice messages or voicemails
Damaging personal property
Spying and following the victim or their family and friends
Showing up to places without consent
Waiting for the victim
With social media having such a large presence in some of our lives, cyberstalking has become another form of violence to contend with. Cyberstalking occurs when someone uses technology - social media platforms, messaging apps, or other online spaces to persistently harass someone. They may make posts of the victim, share personal information or photographs to harass or blackmail the victim. Cyberstalking is just as fear inducing as stalking that takes place in-person, and may require support from law enforcement for protection.
Stalking victims are more likely to tell their friends and families than other resources like campus law enforcement. If a friend has confided in you that they are being stalked by someone in-person or online, here are a few things you can do to help them get the support they may need.
Encourage them to contact UMBC Campus police (410-455-5555) to file a report documenting each stalking incident and to begin the process of obtaining a restraining order.
Stalking can also be reported to the Office of Equity & Inclusion (OEI) using this form - anonymous is an option, but that can impact any investigation Learn more information on the OEI Team, and connect with them by visiting the OEI website.
Refer them to the Counseling Center so that they can talk to our mental health professionals about their experiences and how it may be impacting their mental health.
Contact the UMBC Women's Center for support and resources.
Remember, if someone tells you that your behavior or communication with them is overwhelming and makes them feel uncomfortable, then you are required to leave them alone. Or else, they have every right to contact law enforcement for assistance.
Other helpful community resources: