Stalking

DEFINITION

Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at specific person(s) that would cause a reasonable person to (a) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or (b) suffer substantial emotional distress. People are most often stalked by someone they know such as an acquaintance or an ex-partner, but you can also be stalked by a stranger. Stalking behavior is often mistaken as simply being unwanted romantic attention and is not taken seriously. However, if not interrupted, stalking can begin to force a victim to alter their routine, live in fear, or be physically in danger.

EXAMPLES OF STALKING BEHAVIOR

  • Repeatedly following or spying on you
  • Repeatedly calling your home and/or work
  • Repeatedly sending you unwanted e-mails, letters, Facebook messages, text messages, etc.
  • Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you to find
  • Vandalizing or damaging your property
  • Threatening you or someone close to you
  • Repeatedly showing up for no legitimate purpose at places where you are

Consent

  • Consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity, and is given by clear words or actions.
  • Consent is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties.
  • Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance alone.
  • Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity and the existence of a current or previous dating, marital, and/or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent to additional sexual activity.
  • Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition.
  • Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, intimidation, isolation, confinement, or force. Agreement given under such conditions does not constitute consent.

A student’s own use of alcohol and/or drugs does not automatically eliminate their responsibility to obtain consent. During an investigation related to sexual violence, it is likely that the context and circumstances will be taken into account in order to determine whether consent was provided.

What to do

Visit the Get Help page for more information about safety, medical, support, and reporting options. Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. It is best that you talk with a professional about creating a safety plan, but there are steps you can take to increase your safety:

  • Trust your instincts
  • Don’t downplay the danger
  • Take threats seriously
  • Danger is generally higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder
  • Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you
  • Keep evidence of the stalking
  • Write down the time, date, and place of any incidents.
  • Save any e-mails, texts, etc. from the stalker

Responding to Cyberstalking and Digital Abuse

Cyberstalking and digital abuse can cause significant emotional and psychological harm. What begins online can also escalate into physical harm.

If you are being intimidated and communicated with against your will online you may be experiencing cyber-stalking. Many forms of digital abuse are criminal offenses in the State of Pennsylvania.

  • If you are experiencing digital abuse, try to keep all evidence of the abuse received by taking screenshots.
  • If you are a victim of cyber-sexual harassment, you can call the CCRI Crisis Helpline at 844-878-CCRI (2274).
  • If you are experiencing sextortion, these are five steps you can take.
  • If you are being blackmailed, these are five steps you can take.
  • If untrue or defamatory content is being posted about you online, consult this online removal guide.

Resources

Visit the resources page to find information about who to contact for support and reporting options.

Additional Information