*Statistics supplied by the National Institute of Justice, the National Violence Against Women survey conducted by the Center
Statement: Stalking is defined as repeatedly contacting, following, or remaining in the physical presence of another person when the contacting person knows or should know that:
Contacting includes but is not limited to: telephoning, transmitting letters or notes, or contacting through the use of electronic media. Students or employees charged with a violation of the stalking policy can be disciplined under the appropriate standards of conduct.
Imperative Step Number One: Find an ally. Do not deal with this potentially dangerous situation by yourself. You must tell your parents or another trusted adult immediately.
Pay attention, to the stalker - and to yourself. Never ignore the first signs of stalking. You have a creepy feeling about someone? Sit up and take notice. Always, always trust your instincts. It beats someday saying, "I knew there was something wrong...I wish I'd paid attention."
Talk to the police. Don't put it off. The longer the behavior continues, the harder it may be to stop because the stalker may have become more obsessive. No one can accurately predict if a stalker will actually become violent. A confrontation with a police officer stops most stalkers.
Document thoroughly. Write down all of the stalker's behavior in detail. Keep answering machine tapes, letters, e-mails, gifts, photos, etc.
Consider a restraining order. Although some experts believe a restraining order will make a bad situation worse, Stephen Thompson, sexual assault services coordinator at Central Michigan University, disagrees. He says, "A restraining order gives notice, which is essential for legal action. It will frequently stop the offending behavior.
Help Lines for Victims:
National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE
Typologies of Stalkers*
*Individual perpertrators may not precisely fit any single stalker category, and often exhibit characteristics associated with more than one category; it is important to remember that these typologies are merely guides. Meloy. (1998). "The Psychology of Stalking," AP.
Women stalk, but most stalkers are men. A stalker is much more likely to be someone you know than someone you don't. These are the people who can become stalkers, from most likely (your ex) to least likely (a stranger):
STALKING & INTIMATE PARTNER FEMICIDE*
*The murder of a woman (McFarlane et al. (1999). "Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide," Homicide Studies.)
Cyberstalking can be defined as threatening behavior or unwanted advances directed at another using the Internet and other forms of online and computer communications.
Cyberstalking is a relatively new phenomenon. With the decreasing expense and thereby increased availability of computers and online services, more individual are purchasing computers and "logging onto" the Internet, making another form of communication vulnerable to abuse by stalkers.
Cyberstalkers target their victims through chat rooms, message boards, discussion forums, and e-mail. Cyberstalking takes many forms such as: threatening or obscene e-mail; spamming (in which a stalker sends a victim a multitude of junk e-mail); live chat harassment or flaming (online verbal abuse); leaving improper messages on message boards or in guest books; sending electronic viruses; sending unsolicited e-mail; tracing another person's computer and Internet activity, and electronic identity theft.
Similar to stalking off-line, online stalking can be a terrifying experience for victims, placing them at risk of psychological trauma, and possible physical harm. Many cyberstalking situations do evolve into off-line stalking, and a victim may experience abusive and excessive phone calls, vandalism, threatening or obscene mail, trespassing, and physical assault.
If you are a Victim of Cyberstalking
Victims who are under the age of 18 should tell their parents or another adult they trust about any harassments and/or threats.
Experts suggest that in cases where the offender is known, victims should send the stalker a clear written warning. Specifically, victims should communicate that the contact is unwanted, and ask the perpetrator to cease sending communications of any kind. Victims should do this only once. Then, no matter the response, victims should under no circumstances ever communicate with the stalker again. Victims should save copies of this communication in both electronic and hard copy form.
If the harassment continues, the victim may wish to file a complaint with the stalker's Internet service provider, as well as with their own service provider. Many Internet service providers offertools that filter or block communications from specific individuals.
As soon as individuals suspect they are victims or online harassment or cyberstalking, they should start collecting all evidence and hard-copy form. If possible, save all of the header information from e-mails and newsgroup postings. Record the dates and times of any contact with the stalker.
Victims may also want to start a log of each communication explaining the situation in more detail. Victims may want to document how the harassment is affecting their lives and what steps they have taken to stop the harassment.
Victims who are being continually harassed may want to consider changing their e-mail address, Internet service provider, a home hone number, and should examine the possibility of using encrytion software or privacy protection programs. Any local computer store can offer a variety of protective software, options and suggestions. Victims may also want to learn how to use the filtering capabilities of e-mail programs to block e-mails from certain addresses.
Furthermore, victims should contact online directory listings to request removal from their directory.
Finally, under no circumstances should victims agree to meet with the perpetrator face to face to "work it out," or "talk." No contact should ever be made with the stalker. Meeting a stalker in person can be very dangerous.
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