A person commits the crime of stalking when the person either:
- Engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority, under circumstances which demonstrate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person;
- Engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicates to another person with an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.
Source: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 18, Section 2709.1.
National Statistics and Facts
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men experience stalking in their lifetime.
- The majority of victims know their stalker:
- 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner; and
- 25% of female victims and 32% of male victims are stalked by an acquaintance.
- 2 out of 3 stalkers contact their victims at least once per week.
- 78% of stalkers use more than one means to stalk their victims.
- Stalkers are increasingly able to use technology to stalk their victims, including:
- unwanted calls, text messages and emails;
- accessing the victim's online accounts (including social media);
- tracking he victim using GPS;
- monitoring the victim's electronic devices; and
- posting pictures of the victim online without the victim's consent.
Sources: DOJ, Office of Violence Against Women, Stalking Response Tips for Victims (2013), available online at: http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ovw/legacy/2013/01/31/tips-for-victims.pdf; The National Center for Victims of Crime, Stalking Fact Sheet (2015), available online at: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/default-source/src/stalking-fact-sheet-2015_eng.pdf?sfvrsn=2; Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Technology Used to Stalk, Harass and Harm Victims (July 2015).
What to Do if You Are Being Stalked
- In an emergency or if you believe you are in immediate danger, dial 911 or call University Police at 412-268-2323.
- Trust your instincts. Stalking is dangerous, and reports to the University will be taken seriously.
- Save and/or keep a record of unwanted contacts, including texts, emails, social media messaging, phone calls, voice messages, gifts, notes, letters and in-person contacts.
- Consider printing or taking screen shots of electronic communications.
- Consider contacting the Office of Title IX Initiatives (412-268-7125 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or one of the campus or community resources available (Women's Center and Shelter, Center for Victims, CAPS) for support, information, resources and referrals.
- Consider contacting law enforcement, whether University Police or local police. You have the right to choose whether or not to notify law enforcement, and the Office of Title IX Initiatives can assist you in notifying law enforcement if you choose.
Sources: DOJ, Office of Violence Against Women, Stalking Response Tips for Victims (2013), available online at: http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ovw/legacy/2013/01/31/tips-for-victims.pdf; The National Center for Victims of Crime, Bulletins for Teens: Stalking, available online at: https://www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/bulletins-for-teens/stalking.
Below are some practical strategies for reducing risk of stalking, but it is important to note that no strategy can fully eliminate the risk of stalking, and that it is never your fault if you are stalked.
- Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, tell someone (preferably law enforcement and/or the Title IX Office).
- Don't post - or remove any postings of - personal contact information on social media and/or other websites.
- Don't give your passwords or log in information to anyone - including your signifcant other.
- If someone tells you they don't want to communicate with you, or if they stop responding, take the hint and stop contacting them.
- Change up your routes and routines.