What is stalking?
Stalking is a crime, even though people sometimes describe it as a joke or just "courting." According to Pennsylvania law, stalking is "engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority, under circumstances which demonstrate either of the following: an intent to place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury, or an intent to cause substantial emotional distress to the person." Basically, stalking is a pattern of behavior by someone else that leads you to believe you are in danger or causes you a great deal of emotional distress.
Stalking is not just one type of behavior. It includes a wide range of behaviors that take place both online and in person. Some stalking behaviors include:
1. Repeated phone calls or hang-ups
2. Unwanted text messages or emails
3. Unwanted gifts
4. Using technology, like Facebook or cell phones, to keep track of you
5. Threats to friends and family
6. Showing up where you are
7. Lying about you to other people
With the increase in technology, we are seeing more and more cases of online stalking, also known as cyber stalking.
How common is stalking?
Stalking is quite common, with the number of cases increasing dramatically, especially among young adults.
1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men at some point become victims of stalking
What if I being stalked?
Many people who are being stalked feel confusion, guilt, and responsibility and try to handle the stalker on their own. This is perfectly normal and natural, but the stalking is NOT your fault. Please seek assistance in stopping the stalker.
If you are being stalked:
1. Do not try to reason with the stalker. Firmly and clearly tell the stalker that his or her attention is unwanted and leave it at that.
2. Document all instances in which the stalker contacts you, including gifts left for you, text messages, or Facebook messages. Do not delete any text messages, Facebook messages, voicemails, or other electronic messages. Do not, though, respond to the messages.
3. Change your routine behaviors (e.g., take a different route home or eat at a different
4. Make sure your online accounts, such as Facebook, are set to private and do not "check in" to any location, as this can tell the stalker where you are.
5. Please consider seeking assistance from University officials.
a. If the stalker is a student, take any documentation (copies of emails, messages
saved on your phone, etc) to the Office of Student Affairs.
b. If you would like to block the stalker's email address, speak to someone in Computing Services.
It is important to consider reporting the stalking (see #5 above). You can choose to report the assault anonymously or formally. Please visit our Reporting page for more information. The page also explains legal requirements that the University has in reporting stalking.
An anonymous report should be made to Public Safety and to the University Title IX
Coordinator (Deana Hill) or Deputy Title IX Coordinator (Jamie Shipe). If you would
rather not make the report by yourself, please contact the HOPE Center and we will
assist you in making the report. We understand the difficulty in making a formal report
- and the danger. If you choose to make an anonymous report, we will not pressure
you in any way to make it a formal report. However, anonymous reports of sexual assault,
relationship violence, and stalking to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX
Coordinator must include your name. Your name is privileged information; the Title
IX Coordinator will follow up with you to make sure you are aware of your rights,
but will not conduct any formal investigations if you request that the information
go no further. The Title IX Coordinator, however, must look into any patterns within
the University that may have contributed to the stalking.
A formal report can be made if you would like to press charges. You should contact Public Safety to make a report.
Reaching out to others and seeking support can be a huge help in both stopping the stalking and in overcoming the experience. In addition to contacting a friend or family member for support, consider contacting:
1. The HOPE Center (570-484-2111; hours vary by semester)
2. The Clinton County Women's Center at (570) 748-9509, a 24 hour hotline (Lock Haven campus)
3. PASSAGES, Inc at (814) 371-9677 (Clearfield campus)
4. A Way Out at (877) 334-3136 (Coudersport)
5. YWCA Greater Harrisburg at (800) 654-1211 (Dixon Center)
Volunteers or staff from the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, A Way Out, or YWCA Greater Harrisburg can help you with understanding Protection From Abuse Orders if you would like to explore that possibility.
What happens next?
As a result of the stalking, you may find that you need more than the social support of friends or family. This is completely normal and you should not hesitate to seek counseling from others. Lock Haven University's Counseling Center (570-484-2479) is available for psychological counseling, while the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, YWCA Greater Harrisburg, and A Way Out offer options counseling, a type of social support counseling that focuses more on available resources than psychological therapies. You may also find talking to a spiritual leader helpful.
What if someone I know is being stalked?
The statistics on the number of people who experience stalking are high, especially on college campuses. Odds are high that you will know someone during your college career that has been stalked, either physically or online. That person may ask you for advice or social support. This can be overwhelming, but being supportive often comes down to simply listening to your friend. Here are some tips for supporting someone who has experienced stalking.
- Remember that stalking is not a joke - or romantic. Stalking is dangerous and should be treated as such.
- Stalking is usually done by someone you know. Do not encourage your friend to talk to the stalker or offer to serve as a "go-between."
- Believe the person - do not question his or her story, simply trust that it is the truth.
- Help the person document any instances of stalking behavior. Keep in mind that you may know the stalker and he or she may pressure you for information about your friend.
- Give the person the power - don't offer advice, ask how you can help.
- If the person asks for help, be able to offer sources of support.
- The HOPE Center
- the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, YWCA Greater Harrisburg, or A Way Out
- The Counseling Center
- Public Safety
- Remain aware of your own needs; if you need to seek help and support, do so.
8. Understand that you may be required by Title IX or Clery to report what you have learned to the Title IX Coordinator. Be honest with your friend about this. Recognize any discomfort you feel about having to report. Your discomfort is completely valid; share it with the person who has talked with you as well.