When some of our favorite shows and movies include “Stranger Things,” “You,” Twilight,” and “Love Actually,” behaviors like showing up at someone’s home or watching them from afar are often portrayed as romantic gestures. But in real life, would we consider these behaviors stalking?
During Stalking Awareness month, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how we can better support our friends and classmates who are affected by stalking. In fact, one in five college students will experience stalking, usually by someone they know. Are we able to recognize these stalking behaviors in and outside of relationships, or do we see these behaviors as normal and romantic?
What is Stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of behaviors that causes fear, and it can include unwanted contact (texts, phone calls, etc.), following, showing up, spreading rumors, unwanted gift giving, and more. Stalking may happen during a relationship or after a relation has ended, or the stalker may be a friend or acquaintance. Students who do experience stalking will often experience depression, anxiety, fearfulness, sleep disorders, and headaches, which can have a significant impact on their personal life. When stalking victims do ask for help, they often go to friends and family first, before going to law enforcement or victim services.
If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking, you should understand that stalking should be taken seriously. Try to recognize how scary it is for the person being stalked, and realize that stalking can be a dangerous predictor of future violence. If you see signs of stalking behaviors, check-in with your friend and let them know you are there to support them.
OTC also has resources on campus for those experiencing stalking behaviors. Counseling Services and the college’s Project HEAL victim advocate offer free and confidential services:
James Carpenter – firstname.lastname@example.org, 417-447-6981
The week of January 25–29, OTC, Missouri State University, and The Victim Center are partnering to start virtual conversations about stalking. Check out the links below to join the conversation and learn more!
Tuesday, January 26
Stalking Overview and Q&A – missouristate.zoom.us/j/94359941610
Wednesday, January 27
Cyber Stalking – missouristate.zoom.us/j/94691316143
Thursday, January 28
“Stalking for Love” followed by discussion – missouristate.zoom.us/j/98613985012
Friday, January 29
Stalking Awareness and Prevention LIVE – Instagram live session @mostategreendot
To see how you can get involved with Project HEAL at Missouri State University, click HERE.