January is Stalking Awareness Month, and the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) hosted a workshop yesterday centered around the topic.
Led by Kimberly Williams Collins, PhD, MS, counseling psychologist in University Health Services at UTHSC, the workshop entitled, “Stalking Isn’t Romantic: Healthy Relationships 101,” taught participants about how to recognize stalking behaviors and acknowledged its psychological and personal impact. Participants were also given information and resources for providing support to victims.
Earlier this month, OED hosted “Meet the Chief” with Campus Police Chief Anthony Berryhill to promote awareness about campus safety resources that can assist stalking victims.
In January 2004, the National Center for Victims of Crime launched National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM) to increase the public’s understanding of the crime of stalking. Stalking, defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear, impacts over one in six women and one in 17 men in the United States. Many stalking victims experience being followed, approached, monitored and/or threatened – including through various forms of technology.
“Stalking is addressed in UTHSC’s Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, Stalking and Retaliation policy,” said Michael Alston, EdD, CCDP/AP, assistant vice chancellor for Equity and Diversity and Title IX Coordinator. “It is a crime that goes unreported affecting women, children and men.”
Some stalking safety tips to remember are:
• Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, you probably are.
• Take threats seriously. Danger is usually higher when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship or when the stalker talks about suicide or murder.
• Establish your boundaries. Let others know about the stalking behavior: friends, family, classmates, teachers, neighbors or co-workers. Share photos and a description of the stalker and their vehicle.
• Keep any evidence (screenshots, voicemails, text messages, etc.) and document all contact from your stalker, but do not respond. Record the date, time, location and details of what happened.
• Find a safe place to go in an emergency, for example, a police station, a public area, or a friend’s house. It generally is not a good idea to go home if you’re being followed.
• Don’t travel alone. If you like to walk, jog, or run, bring a friend with you.
• Do not meet, respond to, or contact your stalker.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1–800–799–SAFE.