Stalking is unwanted attention, contact, harassment, or any other repeated virtual or physical following directed at a specific person to gain power and instill fear. It is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress. Two or more incidents make a pattern. Stalking is a crime and is a violation of BOG Governance Rule 1.6 at West Virginia University.
There are no relationship exceptions to stalking - people can be victimized by their friends, family, and other loved ones. In fact, 81% of stalking victims know their stalker (and 40% are current or former intimate partners) [source]. If you feel fear, anxiety, depression, increased feelings of stress, have been self-isolating and/or feel unsafe related to any of the stalking behaviors below, trust your gut and seek support.
Types of Stalking:
- Repeated visual or physical closeness with another person, such as waiting for someone to arrive at locations, following someone's routine, watching them from a distance or giving unwanted gifts.
- Virtual (using technology)
- Persistently sending unwanted communication over the phone or through the internet, such as repeatedly calling, texting, spamming someone's email inbox or their social media platform.
- Posting threatening, inappropriate or personal information about someone on public internet forums.
- Installation or hacking of video cameras that give the stalker access to someone's personal life.
- Using social media GPS or other software tracking systems such as placing a device underneath the hood of someone's car to monitor their location with their knowledge or consent.
- Using someone's computer and/or spyware to track their computer activity.
*Approximately 80% of stalking victims indicate technology was used [source].
General Tips for Victims of Stalking
- Document and save evidence when possible. This includes emails, text messages, photos, social media posts, etc. Consider downloading the Tech Safety app. You can visit their website for more information.
- Trust your instincts. Other people can pressure victims of stalking into downplaying the stalker's behavior - but stalking poses a real threat of harm. Your safety is more important!
- Seek trusted help. Let people whom you trust (family, friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, etc.) know of your situation and ask them to help you stay safe. A good idea would be to have a signal or code word that you can use to let them know if you're in trouble.
- Keep a record or log of each contact with the stalker. A sample documentation log can be found on stalkingawareness.org. Contact includes encounters with the stalker, hang-up calls, and public sightings. Save all messages, emails, and your call history.
- End all contact with the person. This is sometimes easier said than done, but do not answer calls or texts, even if you are telling the person to stop.
- Create a safety plan using this guide.
- Take threats seriously. A direct threat against you is an obvious sign of danger.
- Call the police if you feel you are in immediate danger.
- Get connected with a local victim service provider.
How to Stay Safe Online and On Your Phone
- Remove your personal information online from Fast People Search using this guide.
- Don't post yourself at a location on social media or wait until AFTER you have left to post any identifiable information about where you were.
- Set your social media pages to "Private" or limit who can see what.
- On Snapchat, use ghost mode to restrict who, if anyone, can see your location. Instructions are below.
- Be sure your phone is over 20% charged before leaving a safe place.
- Use Consumer Reports Security Planner to help protect your sensitive information.
- Download safety apps like LiveSafe and Noonlight. Instructions for how to use are below.
Safety and Emergency Support Services
- Call the University Police Department at 304-293-COPS (2677) if on campus.
- Call 911 if you are off campus.
- File a report with WVU's Office of Equity Assurance (Title IX)
- Report the safety concern to the CARE Team at 304-293-5611 or CARETeam@mail.wvu.edu. The CARE Team can help to navigate university policy and procedure.
Confidential Support Services
- Search "LiveSafe" in the App Store or Google Play Store and download the appropriate version.
- Select West Virginia University as your school. You will see the WVU logo at the top of the home screen once you are connected.
- Sign in with your @mix.wvu.edu email.
- Complete your profile by tapping the left menu icon. Tap "Settings" then "Profile". Enter in your mobile phone number so that you can connect with University Police in the case of an emergency.
- If prompted, enable push notifications and location services to receive all benefits of the LiveSafe app.
How to use Noonlight
- Search "Noonlight" in the App Store or Google Play Store and download the app for your iPhone or Android.
- Feeling unsafe? Open Noonlight and hold the button.
- Once you're safe, release the button and enter your 4-digit PIN.
- In danger? Release the button and do not enter your PIN. The police will be notified with your exact location and emergency.
Snapchat: Set Yourself on Ghost Mode
- Open Snapchat.
- Tap on your profile picture/Bitmoji in the upper left corner.
- Tap on the settings icon (looks like a gear) in the upper right corner.
- Scroll down to Privacy Controls.
- Tap "See My Location".
- Tap the circle icon under "Ghost Mode" until you see green to turn off the feature completely or select "My Friends", "My Friends, Except..." or "Only These Friends" to restrict the view of one or a few specific people.