Stalking and Harassment
What is stalking and harassment?
Stalking, also known as criminal harassment, is used to scare, threaten, and control a victim. It can start with small incidents and escalate, possibly becoming life-threatening. Young adults between the ages of 18-24 are at the highest risk of being stalked. Although it’s common to think of stalkers as strangers, 3 in 4 victims are stalked by someone they know.
Stalking may begin after the end of a relationship, where a previous partner does not stop contacting the victim despite their clear and explicit wishes to be left alone. Patterns of abuse and emotional control may or may not have been previously present in the relationship, but it is not uncommon for these issues to intersect. Stalking may also occur when a friend desires a romantic relationship with someone who wishes for the relationship to remain platonic, but does not respect the victim’s boundaries and continues pursuing them anyway. Stalking may also occur in the context of sexual assault, precipitating or following the assault.
Are you in danger?
Stalking is a pattern of events, designed to make the targeted person feel frightened and controlled. The actions may escalate and become more dangerous and persist over time. If you ever feel that you are in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call 911 and seek shelter if possible.
The aggressor may:
- Show up uninvited at your home, school or workplace.
- Make repeated unwanted phone calls to you.
- Call your employer or professor.
- Send you unwanted text messages, letters, emails or voicemails.
- Use other people as resources to investigate your life, such as viewing your Facebook page through another persons or adding your friends to get more information about you.
- Send you unwanted gifts.
- Use social networking sites and technology to track you.
- Spread rumors about you via the Internet or through word of mouth.
- Wait at places you hang out.
- Damage your home, car or other property.
Write it Down
If you believe you may be a victim of stalking, you need to keep track of instances when the person harassing you makes contact, attempts to make contact, threatens you, sends unwanted gifts, or in any other way reaches out to you.
It is important to keep a log or record of this for many reasons. Uses for this information may range from alerting security in your building that the person is harassing you to obtaining a restraining order or as evidence in court. Write down everything – phone calls, letters, emails, Facebook messages, Snapchats, texts, voicemails, visits, acts of vandalism, or attempts to contact you through other people. Keep your log or any other records in a safe place and tell only someone you trust where it is kept.
If you believe you are being stalked or harassed or have any related concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact Victim Services at 803.777.6472, call the 24 hour number at 803.777.4215, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are being stalked you may be feeling stressed, vulnerable or anxious. You may have trouble sleeping and concentrating at work or school. Know that this is a normal reaction to a very distressing situation.
Individual and group counseling are available to all USC students at Counseling Services. Crisis intervention and walk-in appointments are available, too. Call 777.5223 or visit the Close/Hipp Building, fifth floor, located at 1705 College Street.
Safety First. Always.
If you ever feel that you are in danger or at risk of harming yourself or someone else, or you feel that you are in danger, call 911 immediately.
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