What is Stalking?
Stalking is defined as any unwanted, repeated and continuing contact which directly or indirectly causes a person to feel threatened, harassed or intimidated.
Victims and Survivors
People who have experienced stalking may identify as victims or survivors depending on where they are in the healing process. This term can have negative connotations by misrepresenting someone as passive, defeated and powerless. Because victims of stalking exhibit incredible strength, resiliency and ability to heal, we prefer to use the word survivor.
Survivor is a term that represents strength, empowerment, resiliency, healing and growth that each victim experiences in a unique way. We aim to help “victims” make the transition to “survivors” by regaining control of their lives and moving forward with the healing process.
Warning Signs of Stalking
There are many tactics that can be used to threaten or intimidate someone. The following is a list of common behaviors, however there are many more that can be used depending upon the nature of the stalker and their access to information.
- Follow and show up wherever you are.
- Repeatedly call, email, and/or send text messages.
- Damage your home, car or other property.
- Send unwanted gifts.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Track your whereabouts.
- Drive by or hang out near your home, school or work.
- Threaten to hurt your family, friends or pets.
- Use the Internet or public records to find information about you.
- Other actions that control, track or frighten you.
Washington State Laws for Stalking
The law in Washington State defines stalking as intentionally and repeatedly harassing or following another person when the victim is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure them or their property. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances. Stalking is considered a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the incidents.
For more complete information see the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Title 9A Washington Criminal Code. The law is gender neutral and recognizes that stalking occurs between members of the same or opposite sex.
Getting Help if You Are Being Stalked
Believe in yourself
Remember that no matter what the circumstances, you are not to blame for what is happening to you. Give yourself permission to do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
Trust your instincts
Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel unsafe, you probably are. Take threats seriously. In general, danger is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when you are trying to leave or end a relationship.
Tell someone you trust for support
This could be anyone, so think about who would be the most supportive. This person may be a good listener or be able to provide resource and options.
Contact SARIS for support, advocacy and resources
The SARIS specialist listens and supports all students by providing a confidential place to discuss sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking and related issues. The SARIS Specialist can assist you in reporting to the police and in exploring and arranging for counseling, academic help or changes in living situations.
Develop a safety plan
This includes things like deciding who you can call when you need help, changing your daily routine, arranging for a place to stay and using the buddy system. The SARIS Specialist or UW Police Department Crime Victim Advocate can help you create a safety plan.
Keep evidence of the stalking
When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date and place. Keep e-mails, phone messages, texts, letters or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw.
Report to the police
If you decide to report to the police, you can call the UW Police Department and the police officer will meet you in a location of your choice. You can also contact SARIS to review your reporting options. It is your decision to file a report. The stalker may have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property. However, if you decide to file a report, it would be advantageous to your case to do this as soon as possible.
Seek supportive counseling
You may want help dealing with the anxiety, fear or other feelings the stalking has caused. The Counseling Center and Hall Health Mental Health are resources on campus. SARIS can also provide referrals to off-campus community services.
Consider the reporting options
Sexual assault, sexual harassment, physical abuse and threats are violations of the UW Student Conduct Code. Community Standards and Student Conduct (CSSC) can help you make a formal report and determine if the University can take action for these behaviors. You may want to talk to a lawyer or legal advocate about civil lawsuits and other options.
Consider a protection order
Protection orders are civil court orders that can help protect a victim from a stalker by ordering the stalker to stop doing threatening acts, to stay away from the places you go and to stop contacting you. There are different types of protection orders depending on the nature of the violence or harassment and the relationship between people.
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