Student stories: Stalking it over

1“Their actions may look normal, but your feelings aren’t”

Worried woman“My roommate was stalked by an ex-partner. He used to stand outside her window and throw snowballs or show up at our door unannounced. To the outside person, it looked like sweet or romantic gestures. That’s the trouble with stalking; it can look like normal relationship behavior, but the feelings you get (scared, frustrated, angry) aren’t the normal reactions.

“I tried to talk to her about it but she didn’t want to put that label on it. There was nothing I could do but try to keep [her ex] out of the apartment. She felt guilty, so she would end up seeing him to avoid embarrassment. I wish she would have known that I would’ve been completely supportive of any action she wanted to take. She didn’t want to have that conversation, which I respected because accepting that you’re being stalked isn’t easy.”
—Female, fourth-year graduate student, University of North Dakota

2The impact of stalking: “substantial emotional distress”

Pensive Male“The stalking behavior was done to a family member while they were attending school. It affects both of us to this day. It went further than stalking. She required counseling and has had trust issues with men ever since.”
—Male third-year undergraduate, Portland State University, Oregon

“It affected my schooling and caused me to fail my first year due to anxiety and stress. I would appreciate suggestions about where to turn in such a situation.”
—Female second-year graduate student, Cambrian College, Ontario

“I had nightmares long after. I told one of my teachers and my best friend about it. Later, I went to a counselor. Talking about my fear helped.”
—Female first-year undergraduate, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia

“A boy that worked at the bookstore got my info from my purchase. He would lurk outside my dorm, follow me, and once I woke up and he was standing next to my bed with flowers. I flipped out, of course. It was scary. That was the last time I left my door unlocked.”
—Male third-year graduate student, University of West Georgia

“Stalking can be really scarring. It’s like not having your own space, because someone else is trying to take it away from you.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, University of Maryland Baltimore County

“The campus police got involved, but she was still uncomfortable because she would see him around. She ended up transferring to a different college.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, Montana State University Northern

3“I stopped behaving like a stalker”

“I went through a rough break-up. My father had just died and I was vulnerable to feelings of loss. I drove by her house a few times right after the break-up. Now I’m super-mortified at myself for doing that. Counseling is what helped me.”
—Male third-year graduate student, University of West Georgia

“I went to an ex-boyfriend’s house when I knew he had another girl over. I just waited outside unannounced. Then I realized what I was doing and went home, ashamed and feeling weird. I had been drinking, too. Time helps, being sober helps, being happy helps.”
—Female second-year student, Tulsa Community College, Oklahoma

“I am thankful for my friends who advised me to stop. I apologized to her. The reason you do that is just insecurity and trying to impose love on someone who doesn’t love you.”
—Male third-year graduate student, University of Memphis, Tennessee

“Looking back I can see he might have felt unnerved or confused. Even if your actions seem harmless to you, you have to consider how the other person feels and understand that they might see those actions very differently.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, Texas Christian University

4It can be hard to seek help

Concerned Young Male“When he came to the library and said he was looking for me, I told my classmate what had happened. She felt weird. I felt weird. We did not know that his actions are called stalking. We could not find any words to explain it.”
—Female third-year graduate student, Northern Illinois University

“Having conversations with high authorities would’ve been helpful. I didn’t go there because I was afraid to. Instead I hung out in groups. My partner was wonderful and commuted to campus with me. I worry that since it didn’t reach the authorities, someone else might be at risk.”
—Other-gender third-year undergraduate, University of Massachusetts Boston

“In an online group chat, one guy verbally attacked another guy, disclosed private information and pictures. That even made me feel unsafe, because the first guy threatened some harmful thing in public. I didn’t know what I could do, who I could contact. If [intervening] becomes the responsibility of the community, the first guy will be more aware of what he is doing.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, Berklee College of Music, Massachusetts

“He did disrespectful and demeaning things, like once urinating on me, but he was never violent, so I didn’t know I could report this behavior. If I had realized at the time how bad the situation was, I would have asked for help.”
—Female second-year graduate student, Arkansas Tech University

“My roommate was forcefully making me spend time with him and would seek me out and verbally fight with me. Student Life refused to help me, because he was an RA and no one took me seriously.”
—Male fourth-year graduate student, Berea College, Kentucky

5“I went to the police (or tried to)”

Concerned Young Female“Authorities have been notified and are doing a wonderful job. We’re in the end of it right now and are going to trial for criminal harassment.”
—Female second-year undergraduate, St. Clair College, Ontario

“One friend went to the police and was turned down for help. Maybe relevantly, she was identifying as male at the time. She’s queer and her stalker is female.”
—Other-gender fifth-year undergraduate, Portland State University, Oregon

“My friend was assaulted and strangled by her ex who had broken into her home. We called the police. He began stalking and threatening us. She filed for a restraining order and I was a witness at the hearing. The magistrate included me so I was protected too.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado

6How my school handled it

Overwhelmed Young Male“I became depressed and severely anxious, had to become medicated. My friends and family were affected. I told many campus authorities, which meant reliving the experiences over and over. However, the support I received was greatly appreciated. Our campus security were amazing and our harassment officer deserves much praise.”
—Female graduate student, University of Regina, Saskatchewan

“I was sexually assaulted and opened up an investigation after having repeat flashbacks and going into a deep depression. A week after I filed the complaint, I suddenly kept running into him. The Title IX coordinator said it was irrational to assume he was stalking me. My case went to the president of the university and shed light on the internal problems. We got a new Title IX coordinator with actual experience.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, Tennessee

“The assistant dean told me the police were investigating and the university doesn’t take things like this lightly. She told me that if there was anything that the dean’s office could do to help me, I just had to let them know.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, University of Wisconsin-Stout

7“The virtual realities of online stalking”

Upset Young Female“He started showing up at parties and locations after [she posted] pictures or videos on Snapchat that showed where she was.”
—Male fourth-year undergraduate, Old Dominion University, Virginia

“I have never participated in social media, nor signed up with something like Facebook, because I don’t want him to find me.”
—Female third-year undergraduate, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado

“During final exams, my ex-boyfriend made a fake Facebook profile and tried to add me and my new boyfriend. He sent my boyfriend provocative pictures of me and threatened to send them to everyone. Sometimes other people are so unhappy with themselves, they will try and ruin any part of your happiness and success, but it’s up to you to not give them the reaction they want.”
—Male second-year student, San Bernardino Valley College, California