Semester Three – Campus Safety Initiative
Welcome Back to our Third Semester of the Campus Safety Initiative. During this semester we are going to discuss Abusive Partners and The Stalker and further our understanding to allow us to identify threats before they become a problem.
This semester as is this entire course content is presented to you FREE of CHARGE as a Public Service by your friends at the SELF DEFENSE COMPANY OF GREATER BOSTON (www.SDC-GreaterBoston.com)
In all honesty within this course content, we discuss some touchy subjects, some that you would most likely never want to even think about, but the content is totally relevant and information that you as a young lady need to know to be better prepared to protect yourself and prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
Abusive Partners & The Stalker
Is It Possible to Identify the Emotionally & Physically Abusive Partners & Stalkers?
Although our time while attending College/University should be formative ones, a time in our lives where we enjoy new freedoms most likely living away from home on our own for the first time. We should begin to develop and find out who we are, not under the constant scrutiny of your parents and family.
This time in our lives may also involve developing for some our first real intimate and sexual relationships. Unfortunately, the reality of this phase of our lives may lead us to an unpleasant conclusion that not everyone that we meet and involve ourself with, will treat us with the respect that we deserve, or even as an equal.
Although we may not discover that tendency in the early days of the relationships, that they may turn toxic, and that you will be subjected to the various types of abuse. In this semester we will look at how to identify the potentially abusive partners before you make a real commitment to being in a relationship with them. And if you are already in that toxic relationship how you can get out of it. We will also discuss what the consequences of ending such a relationship with such individuals may be.
Unfortunate as it is you might be thinking to yourself that this study is depressing and they are also painting the worst possible picture of a situation, and for that I do apologize, but the objective of this Campus Safety Initiative is to expose you to the worst possible situations so that you can prepare yourself in advance, before you end up as a statistic.
But, please do understand that most potential boyfriends and partners are not the abusive or stalker types. But we cannot ignore the fact that from time to time the apparent “Prince Charming” types can have a dark side. It is for that reason that we need to learn how to identify them, before they start to express that side.
First and foremost, what exactly is abuse? We often think of abuse as a woman being hit or battered by her partner. This is however only one type of abuse that women can face, and it is worth taking some time to look at the different types of abuse that can be experienced. The reason we need to do this is that individuals who are involved in abusive relationships, often make excuses or attempt to explain away their partner’s actions and behaviors, so they don’t have to see themselves as a victim of abuse. It is sometimes easier to defend the actions and the abuse than it is to admit to our self that we are a victim.
When an individual is subjected to a traumatic experience, they often feel ashamed that they were unable to control the situation. Experiencing such shame is for many worse than the pain of the abuse. In that respect we might tend to embellish what really happened to cover up for our own inability to prevent it from happening in the first place. We may even blame ourselves for the situation.
Often in such a relationship the victim will either convince themselves that what they experienced wasn’t actually abuse, or that it was their fault, that they were to blame for what happened (this denial often allows them to believe they had some control into their experiences).
By understanding what abuse is, and defining it, it allows individuals who are experiencing abuse to be more honest with themselves about what is happening in their relationship. This understanding can also help friends, family members to understand what is going on, and offer constructive help.
Before we jump in with both feet and get to the meat and potatoes of this discussion about how we can identify potentially abusive partners in the early stages of a relationship, and before they become abusive, we need to take a look at the different types of abuse that someone may engage in, and these are:
- Psychological Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Financial Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
Psychological Abuse takes the form of threats, which may make you feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe. Such abuse could start off with a partner threatening you with certain consequences if you behave and act in a certain way. At first these might be “low level” threats, such as “If you go out with your friends tonight, I’m not talking to you” but if left unchecked they could easily escalate to “High Level” threats, such as “If you go out with your friends tonight, when you get back, I’ll give you a beating that you surely will not forget!”
For most of us it would be easy to discount the low level threats, however whether the threat is a low level or a high level threat, you must understand that your partner is trying to control your actions and behaviors. The abuser may also threaten to harm themselves, saying that if you do something, they will hurt or kill themselves; either way whether the threat is toward you or toward themselves the desired result is still the same, they are trying to control you.
Emotional Abuse, is aimed at effecting your self-esteem, and your view of yourself as an individual. It may take the form of criticism of something you’re wearing in a derogatory manner such as, “That outfit makes you look like a slut.” It could also be directed toward your physical appearance possibly an insult about your weight which might be followed up with a comment about how lucky you are to be in a relationship with them, “You’re lucky to have me, after all, no one else would want to be with you.”
The emotional abuse is aimed at getting you to think and feel less about yourself, and it is so that you feel more fortunate to be with that loser you are hanging out with. And feel so good about the fact that they are nice enough to pity you and spend time with you. Complete and utter Bullshit, A word of advice from a seasoned old man, Kick that Asshole to the curb. No one deserves to be treated that way. Understand that this type of abuse is to create a power differential, in what should be an equal relationship, seeking to place you in the role of the minor player. If your abuser is successful in creating this type of power differential, you may end up with them believing that they are entitled to act how they want, and treat you as they please. This should never be an acceptable situation.
Physical Abuse, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t even have to involve any physical contact. For example if your partner were to block a doorway preventing you from entering or exiting a particular room, this action would be a form of physical abuse. Any attempt to restrict your movement preventing you from going where you want to go is a form of physical abuse, and legally could be classified as assault. There is of course a difference between assault, battery, and assault and battery. So, let me clarify. The assault would be a threat of some kind. For example your partner blocks your way, or even makes a comment like “if you do this, that, or the other thing I will smack you.” That is assault a threat has been made. If he simply hauls off and smacks you one then that would be considered battery, but if he made the above comment, “if you do this, that, or the other thing I will smack you.” then you did whatever he attempted to prevent you from doing with his threat or assault and he smacked you in retaliation for your action then that would legally be classified as assault an battery.
Other forms of physical abuse, might include such things as snatching, locking you in rooms, etc. as well as physical assaults, such as slapping, hair pulling and punching. Just as you shouldn’t discount the low level psychological threats, you should never excuse physical abuse whether or not it were to cause you physical pain and injury. There is NO EXCUSE for a man to EVER ABUSE a Woman. EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Financial Abuse can take many forms and vary considerably in degree. Your boyfriend may not have the same financial ability as you, There is a big difference between having a boyfriend who has little money and honestly tries to pay his own way when he can, you may end up paying for most things, and in some cases that is not a really big deal. What makes it a BIG DEAL is when he expects you to pay for everything. Just not how things work in the real world,
To emphasize this point further there would be a big difference between someone who would ask you for something and someone who feels entitled to go through your purse and take whatever money is in it. I have been married for nearly 4o years, and I would never think of going through my wife’s purse without asking first.
You should never let your partner control your finances, and even if at some point you might feel that a joint bank account would be beneficial and relevant, you should always maintain your own account and keep money in it. Although such a move as a joint bank account before you are married is just foolish. And for the married woman out there understand that one of the things which often keeps women in an abusive relationship – especially if they have children – is that they have no financial independence. This makes them more dependent on their abusive partner and they find it difficult to imagine leaving their partner and actually be able to do so.
Last and certainly not least is Sexual Abuse. If you haven’t already explored this area earlier in your life, college/university is often a time when you will start to explore your sexuality, and may even have different sexual partners.
Firstly, if you don’t feel ready emotionally ready to engage in a sexual relationship with anyone, don’t feel forced or pressured to do so. You are the only one who can make that decision, even though your friends may pressure you. Don’t do anything that you don’t want to or that you feel you are not ready to do. It does not matter what your friends and those around you are doing.
As we have discussed in the first two semesters sexual conduct and misconduct runs rampant on college and university campuses everywhere. Along with such conduct being prevalent you need to be aware that sexual abuse, does not have to only involve forced sex (rape), it can be something as simple as a partner refusing to wear a condom, or even pressuring you into sexual acts you are not comfortable with. It could also include pressuring you into sending them “naked selfies”, which at the time may seem harmless enough. But I can promise you that those naked selfies will eventually make their way around to the college community as a trophy of sorts. I have seen it happen far to often to ever believe that they would go no further than his email or snap chat account. So, better to be safe rather than sorry.
In other extreme cases, your partner may want to trick you into sleeping with his buddies just to show that he is in control of you or even worse sleeping with other men for money. These abusers will often attempt to use peer pressure to get you to engage in acts that you don’t really want to perform or take part in. They may go as far as to tell you that everybody does it, or all their previous partners have done this. Well, you aren’t everyone and you surely aren’t his previous partners (by the way if he has had numerous partners there are other things you need to consider (such as the possibility of the spread of disease), etc. They may try and make out that you are sexually abnormal, and even threaten to find someone else to do these things if you won’t (reverting to psychological abuse). Well, if that is what they think then good riddance to bad rubbish. You should never let someone exploit you in any way, if you are not comfortable with something, then your partner should respect this. If he is not willing to then why would you want to maintain a relationship with someone that does not respect your wishes? Just as there should be no power differentials in your everyday relationship, there should also be none in your sexual relationship. Sexual experimentation is completely natural and most young adults do experiment, however it should never push you outside of your comfort zone.
With that all being said I now need to ask if anything that you have read so far resonates with you? If so then you should appraise your relationship, and where you stand in it. If you take a moment to be honest and identify whether or not there are major power differentials in your relationship, that you tend to excuse and possibly even justify some of your partner’s actions and behaviors with such excuses as “it’s because he has worked all day and is tired”, or it’s because he’s stressed about a paper he needs to write” or any other lame excuse then you really need to take a step back and do some serious soul searching.
It is time to be especially aware of excusing and explaining the unacceptable things that he does to your, or those things he might even say to you in front of your friends, and then he spews the nonsense that “they don’t understand him like you do” he might be half right in that. They may see hm for what he really is, an obnoxious ass. Abusers will often try and make out that your relationship is a special one that only he and you understand, or that others are simply just jealous.
You just can’t dismiss how your partner treats you simply because you have strong feelings for them or possibly believe that you love them: it is essential that you understand that your feelings and their abusive acts are not connected, however complex you may feel your situation is.
Abusive Individuals & How to Identify Them
The Abusive individual tends to see the world as one dimensional. To them things are often as simple as understanding what their role in the relationship is, as well as having a definite opinion of what your role must be.
Their attitude is often that your job in the relationship is to simply know and adhere to your role, whereby playing your part. They have some misguided notion that If you don’t play your role (and it will be literally impossible for you to) then you are not living up to your end of the bargain like they believe that they are. They often believe that they are doing their part and that you are not, and that leads to a real problem. They may even invest a lot of time speculating the reasons why you’re not acting and behaving like they believe you should, and often come to inaccurate conclusions that are borderline ridiculous in your mind but make perfect sense to them.
When you are dealing with such an individual, you need to realize that in these individual’s worlds things in their minds a quite defined and that grey areas do not exist, it is or it simply is not. They believe that there has to be a reason and explanation for everything, and all of these reasons and explanations are in some way connected. No explanation that you will ever give will be good enough. Because they now know the “truth”, whatever you say doesn’t really matter, all they want is for you to confirm to them that their reading of things is accurate no matter how far from the truth it is.
They are constantly looking for inconsistencies in your story, however minor. And if they find inconsistencies you might as well prepare yourself for a long evening of questioning, and to have whatever the inconsistencies were they will most likely in their mind be tied to some other previous event or issue. No matter now much you try and help them straighten out what you said, they will have moved on to trying to fit it in with everything else that they have determined to be the truth, and will most likely not even be listening to your explanation. Because we understand that the only truth they believe or understand is the truth that the perceive to be.
Of course, I need to state the obvious. Not everyone who sees the world in this way is an abuser, even though most abusers tend to share this view of the world, and they also have a blueprint for what they believe your relationship should be with them, as well as a roadmap for the relationship.
All of this allows them to share with you theirs, and their intended plans for you, and for the future, even early on in your relationship. They have no need to really get to know you, or even what you want. They only need know that your responsibility is to play the role that they have perceived for you. Your own personal plans and goals, are for the most part pretty much irrelevant, and although they may be worked in, they are at best not significant.
Any disagreements that you may have with your partner will be taken by them as you rejecting the relationship with them in its entirety. Here is where the abuse may start. The possible making threats and/or using emotional abuse, so that you question your own worth, and feel/believe that you are lucky to be part of the plan.
This whole experience for you may be so upsetting and draining, that you learn not to try and alter their idea of what the relationship should be; it is at this time that you could begin to adopt a victim’s mindset. And the adoption of that mindset can be demoralizing for your self-esteem. Realize that no one can make you feel like less of a person unless you allow them to, so don’t allow them to.
We all want to be liked, that is just human nature, and it may seem flattering to meet someone who has a clear idea of their future, and wants to commit to you, and involve you in it. But that is their plan, it is not necessarily yours, it is not a shared plan, it is simply an expression of how they see the world, and how they believe that their partner should see it as well. So, if that wonderful guy you just met seems to be making big plans for you both at a very early stage in the relationship, you might want to consider this as a warning sign. Because what we do now is that such individuals rarely if ever change how they see the world, it is unlikely that however much you like or feel for this person that you’ll be able to change them. You may want to consider whether you want to spend your college years with someone who thinks and behaves like this after all you have your own mind, and your own ideas, so don’t let someone else think for you, think for yourself.
Such individuals often tend to give big gifts and presents early on in the relationship, such gifts are often far in excess of what would be expected at that time in the relationship. And yes, we all like to get nice gifts but, when a gift seems unreasonable or too expensive, or makes you feel uncomfortable, you should start to consider some of their other actions and behaviors and what these may be indicative of.
Another thing that you need to be aware of is that abusers will often try and separate you from your friends, and any social groups that you may belong to, in an attempt to monopolize your time. Of course, part of your college/university experience should be meeting new people, and spending time with friends, and involving yourself in the types of groups that engage in activities that you enjoy. The abuser will want to prevent you from doing these things. In their warped opinion the relationship that you have with them should meet all the diverse needs that you would have. For them, the relationship they have with you satisfies – or should satisfy – all their needs, as it should yours, and they may even believe that if you want or need to spend time with others then something in the relationship must be missing; either they have some inadequacy or you’re not investing enough in the relationship. Because if you were truly committed to the relationship you wouldn’t need to spend time with your friends. What a bunch of horse manure. As a matter of fact, it is those relationships with friends and classmates that help you to develop the social skills that you will need in the business world after graduation.
Another reason that the abuser doesn’t want you to spend time with others, is because they don’t want you to be exposed to free thinking, or opinions that could cause you to question your relationship, or your role in it. The abuser often knows that your friends don’t like them, or think that they’re not good for you. Well if it is the general consensus of your friends and family that you are in an abusive or toxic relationship maybe it is time to ask yourself is the rest of the world wrong, or maybe are you? After all it is your friends and family that are there as your support network, and if you have them, you have something to go to, if you were to smarten up and leave the relationship. Your controlling partner desires to isolate you so that you lose contact with your friends and family, then if you were to leave them, you’d have no life to go back to.
Abusers will also often attempt to twist your words around, or tell you that you never said certain things for example if you inform them that you are going out on a certain night, they may tell you, that you told them that the two of you would go out that night. NEVER let your abuser control you by telling you what you have and haven’t said. You know what you did and didn’t say.
At the end of the day, abuse is about getting you to comply with their demands and requests; it is all about control. That control can often take the form of the need for constant communication and updates as to where you are and what you are doing is another warning signal you should take note of. Especially in the early days of a relationship, you may think it is flattering to have someone showing an interest in you, and texting you to find out what you are doing and where you are, But this is an indicator of desiring to control another individual and you should be aware of it from the start. You are an independent person so DO NOT let someone else control your every action.
Although this may be as far as the abuse goes (the psychological and emotional) but it could also be an indicator of a personality type that is prone to physical abuse. Usually the physical abusers has some other character traits that can give them away in the early stages of a relationship.
The physical abuser tends often to be an underachiever who believes that they deserve better. They tend to have an elevated sense of self-worth and believe that others should recognize them for who they are. But, their overinflated opinions of themselves are not shared by the rest of the world. They may be a student that does average work but believes that they deserve better grades. They may be the most average Football player, who somehow believes they are the team’s best player, and should be in the starting line-up. Often baffled as to why they aren’t enjoying the success they feel entitled to, and have moments when they start to question why this is the case.
This introspection view of one self often leads to anger, as they both question their view/idea of themselves and at the same time, come to the conclusion that they are not to blame for their situation but those around them are. It is the professor’s fault; their football coach doesn’t know what he’s doing and so on. The reality of the situation is that these individuals are unable to take responsibility for their shortcomings. But, in these moments these individuals may lash out at those they love and care for, displacing their anger.
The physically abusive partner will often tell their partners that it was their fault that they assaulted them. Making any number of excuses for the abuse, they may accuse them of looking at other guys, dressing provocatively or any such excuse and that if they had they not behaved or acted in this way then they wouldn’t have assaulted them. This is of course is pure and utter BULLSHIT, however many physically abused women are convinced to believe that they in some part are responsible for the abuse – as was stated earlier people who suffer trauma, often try and find ways in which they had some control over the situation, and one way to do this is to blame it on their own actions and behaviors.
Often after the incident the abuser becomes apologetic, and start to express how sorry they are and how it’ll never happen again, this is how the cycle of abuse begins or is repeated. The sad truth is that men who hit women repeat the same abuse, over and over again. Unfortunately, their empty promises can’t be believed however sincere and remorseful they may seem at the time. Many first-time victims want to believe their abuser, and normally continue the relationship. They may do this for a number of reasons, including the following:
- They don’t want to see themselves as a victim of abuse, after all who would stay in an abusive relationship?
- They believe their abuser, that they are to blame and that it will never happen again.
- They’ve already invested so much into the relationship they don’t want to end it and feel like they have wasted their time.
- They don’t want to admit to friends/family that they were right, that the abusive partner was no more than a piece of shit in the first place
- They believe their abuser won’t hit them again, well although it is NEVER ACCEPTABLE for a man to hit a woman one who does will do it again given similar circumstances.
Often men who physically abuse women blame it on alcohol. Once again showing their inability to take responsibility for their actions or situation. Whilst alcohol is not to blame, many abusers use it as a way to emotionally cope with their perceived under-achievement. If you find yourself more frequently agreeing with your partner that they should enjoy better recognition than they do, and find yourself arguing the case that your boyfriend/partner has been unlucky and deserves better to friends and family, then you may be getting close to an explosion.
Just because your partner engages in violent physical abuse doesn’t mean that your partner doesn’t love or care for you, they may really care but just are unable to act appropriately. This is often one of the reasons why it can be extremely difficult to end the relationship. However, you need to realize that abusive people rarely change. Their view of the world and how it operates is a fundamental part of their personality, and they rarely believe that they need to change, regardless of what they may tell you.
How to Break Up with an Abusive Partner
When you realize that you are in a toxic or abusive relationship the earlier on in the relationship that you can end it, the better off you will be. The longer the relationship continues, the more your partner will have invested in it, and they will do everything in their power to keep you from kicking them to the curb.
Most abusers, whether physical or non-physical, invest everything they have into the relationship, and will not want to see it end under any circumstances. They of course realize that when the relationship ends so does the control that they have over you the coveted prize in their minds that they strongly desire to hold on to. It is for this reason that many abusers end up stalking their ex-partners. Often ending such a relationship cannot end as friends and it may even be better to shut it down completely as opposed to trying to let them down easily.
When you break up with your partner try to do it in person, you should never do it in a text or an email, or even on the phone. Although if they are prone to violent outbursts then one of these methods might prove to be safer. Although such events are usually best done in private, you have to consider your entire relationship, their tendency for violence, and your own personal safety. If possible, you should try to avoid a time that might adversely affect other things in their life, which they may later attempt to blame on you, remember they are always looking to blame others for what has gone wrong in their lives. But the most important thing is to stay focused on once you have made the decision to end the relationship is ending the relationship, and making it clear to your partner that it has ended for good. You are not offering a trial separation. You should avoid giving specific reasons why you are breaking up, just simply that the relationship is over.
You should of course avoid using the classic type break up lines, like, “It’s not you, it’s me”, this would indicate to them that they don’t need to change, but you do; and remember that they desire to control your life and they will be more than happy to help you to change. So, it is necessary that you tell the straight out that the relationship is over, it doesn’t work for you and it never will. You may also want to tell them something along the line of that you need some time to yourself and you’d appreciate it if they didn’t contact you.
A last-ditch effort on their part might be the old, gee, can we still be friends routine. This is not going to end well and you must stick to your guns, because when ending an abusive relationship, you need to make a clean break and ensure that they have no reason to believe that they can continue the relationship with you, in any way, shape, or form.
The Stalker & Being Stalked
There are of course those individuals (whether they are abusive or non-abusive), who are not able to accept that a relationship has ended, and they continue to try to carry on the relationship by stalking their ex-partner. And this type of behavior is far too common involving ex-partners. Of course, it is possible to be stalked by a stranger r the sake of this discussion, we will deal with the stalking mainly from the perspective of dealing with an ex-partner. In saying that, the actual methods for dealing with stalkers are largely the same, regardless of your relationship with them.
Stalking is defined not by the stalker’s actions and behaviors, but how they make you feel. Any action that might cause you extreme anxiety and fear or make you feel unsafe.
Although the stalker’s end goal might be unclear, even to them; what may start out as an attempt to convince you to restart the relationship might at some point change and become a form of punishment for ending the relationship in the first place, in the stalkers mind this is a way of continuing to have some type of continued relationship with you.
When stalkers start a campaign of stalking, they may think they know what they want, but over time this can become lost to them. So, you should never reach out or attempt to contact a stalker because their acts or deeds are not rational or well thought out. Trying to reason with them and make them understand the futility of what they are doing, or even the pain, inconvenience and anxiety their actions are causing you, is a waste of time.
Many victims of stalking tend to attempt to arrange to meet their ex-partner now turned stalker to explain why they ended the relationship, why the stalking activities need to stop, etc., only to find their words falling on deaf ears. The stalker is simply not capable of understanding.
The most straightforward, simple and proven method for dealing with stalkers is to stop all communication with them. It is crucial that you as the one being stalked understand that the stalker is simply attempting to continue having a relationship with you, and by responding to them you are in effect having a relationship with them. Even though one that you don’t want to have.
So, don’t answer their phone calls, don’t answer their emails, don’t arrange to meet them, DON’T INTERACT WITH THEM AT ALL. Without feedback and communication, it will be hard for your stalker to maintain a relationship with you. This, of course, is easier said than done, as you will have to suffer the unfairness of your situation without being able to explain it to them. I know it seems unfair, but when dealing with a stalker you should be more concerned with being effective than being right, and not communicating with them is the most effective default method to accomplish your objective.
In the event that you believe that you are being stalked (and the sooner the better) is to start keeping a diary of all of the incidents of stalking that you experience. This can be a great help in the event that you ever need to seek a legal remedy such as a restraining order. In this diary it is worth noting anything that appears out of the ordinary, even if you think it’s not relevant, such as a light that is no longer working outside the entrance to your halls of residence, it may be more than just a coincidence.
To help you understand and determine stalking a bit better we have compiled the following list of some common stalking activities, which you can use to give yourself an idea as to what a campaign of stalking may involve (although it is unlikely that you will experience some of the more extreme and criminal acts, it is always best to be informed and aware):
- Constant Phone Calls, Emails, Texts, etc.
- Phoning and hang ups from unidentified callers
- Sending you unsolicited letters & gifts
- Stealing your mail, this is of course a Federal Offense punishable by law
- Vandalizing your car, your house, or your personal property.
- Trying to influence your friends and family members (possibly using social media)
- Spreading lies and rumors about you
- Spying on you
- Loitering outside of the places they know you may go such as your friend’s houses or places of employment
- Sending you photos of themselves
- Posting photos of the two of you on social media after the relationship has ended
- Making false allegations against you.
If the stalker employs any of these tactics be sure to make note of them, and although this list is not complete by any means and other things could surely be added it is here to simply give you some idea of common instances. When recording any such instances be sure to also record the time and place and anyone who was with you at the time, and could act as a witness.
Stalkers are simply looking to provoke you to make a response, and however strongly you feel, you should resist the urge. There are certain things you can’t stop them from doing, such as posting old photos they have of you on social media, or trying to take the same classes as you, or even making false allegations against you – these are things you will have to deal with, such as informing friends that the rumors being spread about you are not true, and potentially having to deal with the police or attorneys, etc. The most important thing to remember is that you know the facts and don’t let them intimidate you into compliance.
The obvious reason you want to collect and record all of this information is that there may come a point where you genuinely fearing for your safety and need to get the police involved. At which point you cannot just make accusations, but, you will need a solid body of evidence to present them, in order for them to be able to do anything. Of course, this should be seen more as a last than first resort, and only after you have tried not communicating with them for a period of time. Especially if you are a college student, your college or university has a responsibility under Title 9, to alter yours and your stalker’s schedule, through to expulsion of your stalker etc. if your personal safety is compromised.
Now let’s consider some of the things that are in your control. For example, your email account(s), your mobile phone and your social media accounts (be careful about posting information that your stalker could use against you there even in anger, and remember that once you post something on social media it is there forever).
If your stalker is continually calling you either to talk or hang up, or constantly texting you, then they are doing so because they want you to think of them every time your phone rings, or you see you have new messages. Such behavior is both extremely intrusive and stressful.
You may think that changing your number is a good idea, but remember that once the stalker realizes that they can’t reach you by phone, they will try and find out what your new number is – and stalkers are extremely resourceful, contacting your friends, family members and online resources to provide them with this information. So, rather than changing your number, you may want to consier getting another phone, and while keeping your original phone active, start switching over your contacts but periodically go through voice messages and missed calls, and then inform the individuals who you wish to keep in contact with, of your new number.
This way, you can deal with your stalker’s messages and voicemails in your own time, and be in control of this method of communication. At some point in the future the only person using that number will be the stalker. Of course, in that event it is important that you DON’T DELETE voicemails and messages, because they as well as the call logs will be useful evidence if you need to involve the police.
You can take a similar approach with your email account(s) creating and using a new or separate email account while still keeping the old one active. The same as the phone technique, don’t delete messages or emails as you may need them for proof later on. It is probably wise to stay off social media for a while, and tidy up any accounts you have existing that might contain information that could be used against you.
As annoying, and unfair as being the target of a stalker is, most stalkers do not become violent. The stalker’s usual motive is that they want to continue and prolong the relationship they have with you and to resort to violence would promptly end it for sure.
This doesn’t mean you should not take every safety precaution you can when dealing with a stalker, always keeping yourself in a position (by keeping an incident log) that, should things take a turn for the worse, that you have enough evidence to allow the authorities and police to act. However, if you cut communications completely it is likely that your stalker will soon lose the desire to continue their campaign.
Stalking requires time and effort, and many people who are pursuing college degrees (if your stalker is a fellow student), find they have limited time to engage in an intensive campaign against you, with the majority losing interest fairly quickly.
Prevention is, of course, always better than the cure. You should now have a pretty good idea of the characteristics and behaviors of potentially abusive partners. We hope that you never have to experience such behavior in a partner but that is something that could happen with any person at any time. The sad reality is that at the heart of all abuse is the need for control, and when this control is lost, such as through the relationship ending, the abuser often ends up engaging in stalking activities. So if you can simply avoid involving yourself with controlling and abusive individuals in the first place, or ending that abusive or toxic relationship at the earliest warning signs, you go a long way to preventing yourself from becoming a victim of stalking.
Well this concludes our third semester in the Campus Safety Initiative, and we look forward to seeing you in the fourth semester. Until then, be vigilant, be aware, stay smart and stay safe.
Dr. Carl Welliver, Ph.D.