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Stalking Awareness

Exploring Stalking

Stalking awareness

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), stalking can cause you to feel fear or emotional distress due to, typically persistent, unwanted attempts to interact with, track, threaten or harass you. Stalking can take place between current, or past, romantic partners, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. It involves non-consensual communication with someone who does not want to be contacted. These behaviors can take place in-person, online or through a mixture of both mediums.

Stalking often involves an escalation of behaviors, as perpetrators try to maintain their power and control over you. This can include threats, or physical actions, made against your safety or the safety of those important to you.

As Sun Devils, we take fundamental responsibility for our community and are accountable for our actions. We can build a thriving community together by treating each other with respect and fostering healthy relationships where everyone feels safe and supported. Here are some ways you can cultivate healthy relationships and contribute to a thriving community where stalking does not exist.

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Reflect on your actions towards others and whether they are wanted. If you get the sense that someone is not interested, do not be persistent.

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Respect the boundaries of others by listening. If someone asks you to stop contacting them or stop showing up where they are, stop.

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Healthy relationships are based on equality between all partners. Do not make all the decisions in your relationship. All partners should be given the space to make decisions for the relationship and for themselves.

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Personal Space

Allow others to have personal space both online and in person. Do not monitor someone’s location or violate their space.

You may feel that you are experiencing stalking yourself or become concerned for a friend or family member. You do not have to wait until the behaviors escalate, it is normal to want to talk to someone to formulate a plan:

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Stalking encompasses a wide range of behaviors and actions that can escalate over time.

No one has to wait to seek support, it is important to trust your instincts and to seek help before things escalate.

Stalking can include, but is not limited to:

  • Unwanted gifts
    Perpetrators may send you unwanted gifts via email, mail and/or in-person delivery. These gifts could arrive at your work, school, home, etc. 
  • Persistent calls and messages
    This can include messages via social media, emails, letters, text messages, phone calls and more. Perpetrators of stalking will often use multiple methods to attempt to make contact with you.
  • Monitoring social media
    Social media can be monitored to discover what events you may be attending, learn your schedule, find out who is important to you and learn more about you in general. Everyone deserves to feel safe in physical, as well as online environments.
  • Showing up unannounced
    Perpetrators may show up unannounced at your work, school and/or home in an attempt to contact you. Sometimes it can be helpful to include those around you (such as your boss, roommate and family) in a safety plan, so that they can be aware of the situation and work to maintain your safety.
  •  Following
    This could include physically following you to class, to an event, to work, etc. and/or following your social media presence and online interactions with others.
  •  Threats
    Stalking can include threats to your safety, the safety of those important to you and/or threats to the perpetrator’s own safety as a means of attempting to maintain control.

As with any form of sexual or relationship violence, if someone experiences stalking, it is not their fault, regardless of whether they practiced safety precautions. Always believe those who are concerned they are experiencing stalking and connect them to resources.

Stalking is not always in person

Stalking involves a multitude of unwanted actions that can cause someone to feel emotional distress or fear for their own safety. These behaviors often won't solely take place in-person, but can occur online and/or through electronic devices, such as unwanted…

  • Phone calls and/or text messages to your personal phone or work
  • Direct messages via social media
  • Posting of information about you on social media accounts or websites
  • Attempts to garner information about you via someone you know
  • Using social media, status updates, etc. to monitor your whereabouts
  • Email messages
  • Online gifts or electronic gift cards

No matter the format in which the stalking behaviors take place, reporting and seeking supportive services is always an option. There are multiple options at ASU to report stalking or to get support if you aren’t sure if you or a friend are experiencing stalking. Please refer to ASU’s various support services for additional assistance.

Are you concerned that a friend may be experiencing stalking?

Maybe you have been noticing that your friend seems distressed over someone’s persistent attempts to make contact with them. Or your friend seems fearful for their own safety due to the extent in which someone has been harassing them. It can be difficult to know what to do in these situations, but there are ways you can support them:

  1. Express concern for their well-being.
    It can be hard to bring up this difficult topic, but it often makes it easier to frame the conversation around your concern for them and to allow them to label their own experience, “Hey, I just wanted to check-in.” You just want to make sure they are happy, healthy and safe.
  2. Encourage them to trust their instincts.
    Encourage your friend to trust how they are feeling. Stalking situations can often be difficult to identify and navigate and stalking often escalates over time. It is important to support your friend in accomplishing what they feel may be the best next step.
  3. Help them determine if they feel safe.
    Stalking situations can become dangerous, thus it is important to check-in and make sure your friend currently feels safe. ASU Victim-Survivor Services is a confidential resource and can help students create a safety plan. Always remember to call 911 in life-threatening emergencies.
  4. Recommending reporting and support resources.
    Reporting is always an option, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a stranger or a past or present romantic partner. ASU has a variety of support services to help students navigate these difficult situations and it is normal to want to talk to someone.

Challenge society’s tendency to minimize stalking.

The words we use have the power to minimize what in actuality is a very serious issue and subsequently cause harm to victims and survivors. Stalking can cause emotional distress or fear for someone’s safety and should be taken seriously. If someone reaches out to you because they’re concerned that they may be experiencing stalking, respond with support.

  1. The media, such as television shows or movies, may portray stalking as “not a big deal”, but in actuality stalking can be dangerous and can cause someone a great deal of emotional distress.
  2. If someone is uncomfortable with the way someone else is pursuing them, don’t write this off as “just a crush”. Know the red flags related to stalking, such as persistent asking out or pursual for a date. Behavior that disrespects and ignores someone’s boundaries should not be minimized or tolerated.
  3. Unfortunately, stalking isn’t “harmless.” It can be dangerous for not only the victim or survivor, but also those close to them. Stalking can cause emotional distress for years following the experience.
  4. Stalking is not an illustration of “excessive romance.” Romance necessitates that one’s boundaries are being honored and consent is required. Stalking behaviors involve the persistent violating of one’s boundaries and in no way constitute any form of romance.

The words we use have the power to support someone in need or to minimize a serious problem and subsequently cause harm. We can work together to respond with support to victims and survivors and to not only avoid phrases which minimize violence, but to speak up when we hear other’s perpetuating this minimization. Educate your community members on how to respond with support to victims and survivors.

Visit our education page to continue expanding your knowledge.