Stalking

What is stalking?

Stalking occurs when a person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person. Aggravated stalking occurs when that person makes a credible threat to that person through stalking (Florida State Statute 784.048).

A credible threat is a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm.

It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat.

Cyberstalking means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

Stalkers may:

  • Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups
  • Follow you and show up wherever you are
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or e-mails
  • Damage your home, car, or other property
  • Monitor your phone calls or computer use
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or GPS to track where you go
  • Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets
  • Find out about you by using public records or on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers
  • Other actions that control, track, or frighten you

Stalking is a crime. You are not to blame for a stalker's behavior.

Safety First!

All 50 states have an anti-stalking law. UFPD and the Office of Victim Services can assist you if you believe that you are being stalked or harassed. UFPD and a victim advocate can help you file a police report and/or obtain a injunction (restraining order) if needed.

  • Immediately notify law enforcement.
  • Save all evidence (letters, notes, e-mails, faxes, voice mail messages, “gifts,” etc.) and keep a journal documenting the stalker’s behaviors. Be specific.
  • Record obscene or threatening phone calls.
  • Compile a witness list.
  • Tell the stalker to stop all contact. Do this ONLY ONCE! Afterwards, ignore the stalker no matter what the threat. Do not communicate with him/her again.
  • Notify law enforcement of any further contact.
  • Inform everyone around you that you are being stalked. Describe the stalker so that they may alert you to his/her presence.
  • Walk or travel with a friend or in a group whenever possible.
  • Think ahead, have a safety plan, and never underestimate the potential for danger.

Statistics

2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method of communication attempts (Stalking Resource Center)

Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before (Stalking Resource Center)

Harassment

What is harassment?

Harass means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose (Florida State Statute 784.048).

  • Immediately report the harassment. Contact the police to file a report, or contact the Office of Victim Services to speak with an advocate.
  • Keep a log of all calls and/or a copy of all e-mails received; include the date, time & details of the call/e-mail.
  • If you are continually harassed, you may want to consider changing your phone numbers and/or e-mail address.

Types of Harassment

Phone calls:

  • Pay attention to any background noises, the caller’s sex, accent, speech pattern, or anything else that might aid in identification.
  • If calls are recorded on a voicemail, save the message and provide it to the police.

E-mails:

  • If the offender is known, send them a clear written warning to stop sending you e-mails. Communicate that the contact is unwanted, and ask the perpetrator to stop sending communication of any kind. Then, no matter what the response, do not communicate with the harasser again.
  • Make copies of all e-mails, being sure to get the address they were sent from, and report these to the police.

Social Media:

  • Document any messages/comments, take screenshots and save them. Some platforms may auto-delete after a set period of time, police are able to retrieve these messages. Speak with an officer about retrieving lost messages or data.
  • Speak with an advocate about safety planning and filing a report.

Sexual Harassment:

  • Tell somebody. Talk to a trusted friend or colleague, teacher, administrator, supervisor, or supervisor’s supervisor (including department chairs and college deans), victim advocate or counselor.
  • Do not appear to ignore the harassment; your silence may be mistaken for consent.
  • If possible, speak up when the incident occurs, and tell the perpetrator to STOP the offensive behavior in a clear and firm manner.
  • Consider communicating with the harasser by writing a letter detailing your concerns and asking the person to STOP.
  • Keep a written record, noting incidents as they occur and any witness that may be present. Keep any physical evidence (notes, letters, pictures, etc.) and anything else that will corroborate your story.