In recognition of National Stalking Awareness Month, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance (EOC) Office is raising awareness about how UNC Chapel Hill defines stalking behavior, how to recognize problematic behavior, and the resources available to the Carolina community to help support victims of stalking.
Stalking is prohibited by the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Misconduct (PPDHRM) and the Policy on Prohibited Sexual Harassment under Title IX. These policies define stalking as “a course of conduct . . . 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.”
Stalking can take many forms. It is not always based on a current, previous, or desired romantic relationship. It can happen through direct or indirect contact or through other people by any action, method, device, or means to follow, monitor, observe, surveil, threaten, or communicate to or about another person. It can happen between people who know each other or who are strangers. People often associate stalking with following, lurking and spying (which do occur), but stalking can take other forms due to technology advances and through the use of social media.
Stalking behaviors can include:
- Sending repeated, unwanted calls, texts, emails, letters, and/or social media messages
- Creating fake social media accounts or profiles to communicate, monitor, and/or impersonate
- Using multiple social media platforms to engage in unwanted contact, monitoring, information gathering, and/or communication
- Repeatedly showing up at someone’s home, workplace, class, or social gathering space
- Leaving unwanted gifts or letters
- Damaging property
- Monitoring or tracking of someone’s location
- Using information obtained at work to engage in unwanted personal communication, tracking, monitoring, and/or contact
Individuals who are experiencing stalking may try to negotiate the situation in various ways. Some folks feel able to directly state the attention is unwanted. Although this direct communication may be ideal to clearly indicate something is unwanted, some people may worry this could instigate or escalate the situation and result in physical harm. Individuals are encouraged to document the ways they directly or indirectly indicate conduct is unwanted, as this may be helpful evidence if they decide to report to the EOC or UNC Police.
Healthy relationships require all parties to recognize and respect boundaries. This includes recognizing when communication is unwanted or not reciprocated. For example, blocking someone on one social media platform is not an invitation to access that person on a different platform. Leaving a message “read” with no response may be an indication the message was unwanted. If you are unsure whether your communication is unwanted, it is okay to ask. Be sure to respect the response, however, especially if it is not the answer you hoped to receive.
There are various University resources available to individuals experiencing stalking. These resources may also be helpful if someone is concerned about their own behavior and/or the behavior of friends or peers.
Counseling and Psychological Resources (CAPS) provides confidential services to UNC students including individual brief counseling, support groups, medication management, and community referrals for long-term therapy. All students begin their work with CAPS through a brief consultation at any time during business hours. Contact: 919-966-3658, firstname.lastname@example.org
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential resource for employees who are looking for support and resources related to stressful situations and events. Contact: 877-314-5841 (24-Hours).
Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office oversees the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct and the Policy on Prohibited Sexual Harassment under Title IX as well as the investigation and adjudication process for the prohibited conduct. Report and Response Coordinators (RRCs) are a private resource to help folks consider their options when they are concerned about experiences like stalking and other prohibited behaviors. RRCs are available by phone or video chat to explore support and reporting options and to help connect members of the Carolina community with campus and community resources. RRCs can help folks explore protective measures such as a campus no-contact order, changes to on-campus housing assignments, concerns with accessing class, and other support. Contact: email@example.com or 919-445-2759.
Gender Violence Services Coordinators (GVSC) provide confidential support for students, faculty, and staff of all gender identities who are experiencing situations like stalking and other forms of gender-based violence and harassment. GVSCs can provide emotional support, help with needs and considerations related to safety planning, explore options for support and reporting, and accompany folks to meetings with offices including the EOC. Confidential appointments are currently available by phone or secure video chat. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-962-1343.
University Ombuds Office serves as a confidential, impartial, and informal resource for students and employees. The Ombuds Office is available to listen, help identify and evaluate options, and offer referrals to other resources. Contact: email@example.com or 919-843-8204.
UNC Police provides the SafeWalk resource on campus and the Carolina Ready Safety mobile app. UNC Police are available to help folks file a police report and/or explore interventions to address stalking behavior. UNC Police can meet individually with folks to explore their options before making a formal report. Individuals can also share information anonymously through the Silent Witness form. Contact: non-emergency 919-962-8100, police.unc.edu.