Stalking is a crime. It is a serious crime and it is not taken lightly by the UM Police Department. The following guidelines are intended to help you protect yourself, but are not a substitute for police involvement. You should report stalking to the police so they can assist you and attempt to arrest the stalker.
-Listen to your intuition. If you feel something about a situation or encounter with someone is not right, stay alert.
-Be decisive if you’re not interested in a relationship. Trying to be nice can lead a potentially obsessive suitor to hear what he or she wants instead of your intended message.
-Do not ignore early indications that annoying attention might escalate into dangerous harassment and pursuit.
-Do not accept gifts. Do not respond to telephone calls or e-mails. You are giving the stalker the attention he or she wants. This will hinder prosecution of the stalker later on.
-Do not try to reason with a stalker. This is contact that, in a sick way, fulfills the stalker’s needs and will perpetuate the behavior.
Be prepared to work with the police in building a case against the stalker. You will also need to remain involved throughout the criminal justice process. Don’t do anything that can be used as a defense by the stalker to show his or her advances were invited by you.
Keep a journal of the stalker’s activities. Record the date, time, location, and witnesses present. Also record how the behavior affected your activities and how it affected you emotionally.
Take steps to guard your privacy. Change your phone number and set up caller ID. Change e-mail addresses and keep them guarded (you may also need to change your Internet service provider). Be cautious while participating in Internet chat rooms and messaging (better yet, give it up completely until the stalker is stopped). Change your locks and have an alarm installed. Keep receipts and records for all expenses incurred by you as a result of your stalker’s behavior; you may be able to ask for restitution if he or she is found guilty of stalking you. It may be a good idea to stay off the Internet; record this sacrifice in your journal.
Make use of all available safety precautions. While on campus use free security escorts offered by the UM Police Department. Familiarize yourself with the blue light emergency phones on campus. You can use them to contact police if you need assistance. Plan your routes on campus so that you are aware of the closest phone at every segment of your path. Do not walk alone.
Report stalking behavior to the police. What you have to report may not be stalking, but how will you really know unless you speak to the police. Officers and detectives can arrange for Victim Advocate services, Counseling Center services and Dean of Student’s services.
Florida Statute 784.048 makes stalking illegal. It says:
Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person, and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury, commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Any person who, after an injunction for protection against repeat violence pursuant to s. 784.046, or an injunction for protection against domestic violence pursuant to s. 741.30, or after any other court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the subject person or that person’s property, knowingly, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses a minor under 16 years of age commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084
means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.
Course of conduct
means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of “course of conduct.” Such constitutionally protected activity includes picketing or other organized protests.
means a threat made with the intent to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety. The threat must be against the life of, or a threat to cause bodily injury to, a person.
There are three general types of stalkers: intimate partner stalker, delusional stalkers, and vengeful stalkers. All three are annoying, scary and potentially dangerous. Intimate partner stalkers can’t let go. Delusional stalkers have had little or no contact with their victims. They have false beliefs that there is a real attachment to their victims. Vengeful stalkers are potentially dangerous because they are angry with their victims. They believe their victims have wronged them somehow and are seeking revenge.
Victims must try to understand the type of stalker and his or her motivation.
Protective orders or restraining orders are papers that tell the stalker to stay away from you. Keep in mind that they are only papers. They will not protect you from a stalker. They do serve a useful purpose. Protective orders create a level of proof that the stalker has been informed to stay away from you.The stalker can also be arrested for violating the protection order.
Possession of a protective order does not mean you can let your guard down. If anything you should increase your awareness. The order may make the situation worse. If the stalker violates the order, remember that the police probably will not arrive until after the violation occurs. If the stalker does violate the order, call the police and file a report.
A judge issues protective orders, and the State Attorney’s Office can help you to file the request. It is not an easy process, but is worth it in the long run to help prosecute the stalker.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE BEGINNING
Be watchful for some of the warning signs. A new romantic interest who shows possessive behaviors, an unusual interest in your schedule, checks up on you often, or always wants to know where you are and who you are with may become a problem later on. Someone who pays surprise visits or seems to show up everywhere you go may be creating coincidences. Be careful with how you proceed in these types of relationships. Find out more about the person. If you become concerned, remember to listen to that little voice inside of you. If you want to end the relationship be firm and decisive. Don’t try to let the person down easy; it will only make things harder.
If you think you are being stalked on campus, contact the UM Police Department Call 305-284-6666.