URBANA, Ill. – During national Stalking Awareness Month, the University of Illinois Police Department wants to remind students, faculty and staff of the resources available if they ever feel their safety is threatened by another person – including a new state law that strengthens protections against unwanted social media contact.
According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC), stalking affects one in six women and one in 17 men across the United States. Many stalking victims experience being followed, approached, monitored or threatened and, as a result, struggle with things like anxiety or severe depression as a result. Stalking is a psychologically harmful crime as well as a predictor of violence, according to SPARC.
“Some people might be experiencing this and may not realize that they are a victim of stalking,” said U. of I. Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Craig Stone. “That is why we want to raise awareness. We want our campus community members to understand what stalking is, and who they can reach out to if they are experiencing someone else’s harmful behaviors.”
Stalkers use many tactics, including:
- approaching the victim or showing up in places when the victim didn’t want them to be there;
- making unwanted telephone calls;
- leaving the victim unwanted messages (text or voice);
- watching or following the victim from a distance; or
- spying on the victim with a listening device, camera, or GPS.
And now, a new Illinois law which took effect Jan. 1, 2019, makes unwanted contact via social media a form of stalking.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, there are a number of resources available to help anyone who is experiencing stalking. Some services are confidential and are marked below with an asterisk (*).
- University Police Department: 217-333-1216 or police.illinois.edu
- *Women’s Resources Center: 217-333-31317 or oiir.illinois.edu/womens-center
- *Counseling Center: 217-333-3704 or counselingcenter.illinois.edu
- Title IX and Disability Coordinator: 844-616-7978 or illinois.edu/titleix/
For more information on stalking and the resources available both on campus and in the community, visit http://wecare.illinois.edu.