Girl looking at phone with frustration

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to draw the line between annoying, clingy interactions and stalking. Shows and movies can make it seem like persistence is the key to winning someone over. However, persistence can quickly turn into discomfort or fear when it’s unwelcome. Here are a few things that you may not know about stalking:

#1 Stalking can take many forms

Stalking goes beyond following someone. It can include a variety of tactics, which can take place in person or online. Stalking is defined as a pattern of unwanted behavior, directed at a specific person, which causes that person to change their routine or feel afraid, nervous or in danger.

Examples of stalking behaviors:

  • Repeated, unwanted phone calls, texts, messages, etc. that may or may not be threatening
  • Creating fake profiles to continue contacting a person after they have been blocked on their personal account
  • Observing, following or “coincidentally” showing up wherever the person goes
  • Waiting outside of the person’s class, home, job, car, etc.
  • Leaving notes, gifts or other items for the person
  • Spreading rumors online and in person

  • Posting messages or images of the person on social media or in discussion groups
  • Vandalism or destruction of property, including sabotaging schoolwork
  • Breaking into the person’s home or car
  • Hacking into the person’s social media, email or other accounts
  • Collecting information about the person through friends, family members, coworkers or acquaintances
  • Contacting other people in order to gain information about how to access them

#2 Stalking can happen to anyone

While stalking often is directed at someone from a previous or current intimate relationship, it can also occur between former friends, roommates, classmates or someone the person has occasionally or never met before, including matches from dating apps. Here are some ways to identify when it’s time to seek help or support:

  • Healthy boundaries are when: You say “no” and the other person respectfully leaves and does not contact you again.
  • Unhealthy behaviors are when: You say “no” and the other person contacts you again.
  • Consider discussing with someone or documenting what is happening when: You say “no” again and the other person tries to talk you into saying “yes” and/or continues to contact you or now contacts you more often.
  • Consider calling the police/seeking help when: You are contacted repeatedly, the other person shows up where you are, indirectly threatens you, is disrespectful or does not take “no” for an answer.
  • Call 911 when: The other person directly threatens you, physically harms you or damages your property.

#3 Stalking is a serious criminal offense

January is Stalking Awareness Month

Learn how you can seek support for yourself or a friend.  

The Don’t Ignore It website provides options for seeking confidential support on and off campus, skills for helping others and reporting options related to sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination.

Stalking behaviors by themselves may or may not be illegal. However, context of the behaviors and the impact they have on the other person are key. Stalking violates CU’s campus policies and is considered a serious crime in Colorado. CU Boulder provides a number of reporting and support options for those affected by stalking.

Confidential support
Students, staff and faculty can get confidential support through the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) by calling 303-492-8855 or filling out a confidential request form online. This form will only be reviewed by OVA staff – the university will not be notified and no investigative action will take place. If you would like to get in touch with an OVA advocate counselor regarding your form, be sure to include contact information you feel safe being contacted on. OVA advocate counselors can provide additional support to help individuals explore their rights and options, make a safety plan, get medical treatment if needed, discuss their living situation and more. They also have a free e-Ask an Advocate program that allows you to meet confidentially and briefly with an advocate counselor for additional information, support and consultation. 

Law enforcement reporting
Reporting to the police can take many forms and doesn’t have to lead to filing of criminal charges. An informational or anonymous report is sometimes an option to make the police aware of the situation. Individuals can also sometimes ask police to contact the person to give a verbal warning or press criminal charges.

CU Boulder reporting
If you have experienced stalking by a CU Boulder student, staff or faculty member, you can report the incident to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC). OIEC can address concerns through a formal grievance process or through a policy compliance meeting. Additionally, OIEC may be able to provide safety and supportive measures, such as no contact orders, academic remediation and more. You can file a report with OIEC by calling 303-492-2127 or fill out a report online.

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