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No one asks to be stalked, but it's a common experience for many college students; in fact, 12% of students are impacted by stalking. Stalking refers to repeated and threatening behavior directed toward a person that leads to concern or fear about personal safety. Individual stalking behaviors are not necessary illegal or against university policy (e.g., texting, waiting for someone outside a classroom). However, when these acts are unwanted, there can be an implied threat in the repetition of behavior and tone of contact.

Stalking is a serious and dangerous situation. The threat a stalker poses can escalate over time and often involves physical violence. However, stalking commonly goes underreported because many stalkers employ activities that seem to be harmless. For example, stalkers may call on the phone repeatedly or leave gifts. It is necessary to look at the context in which a stalker is behaving and to trust one's instinct when a person's activities, perhaps harmless when seen out of context, cross the border into obsessive, threatening, or harmful actions. It is important to recognize that stalking poses a serious threat.

Common Stalking Behaviors Include:

  • Following the person or repeatedly showing up unexpectedly at the person's class, work, favorite coffee shop, etc.
  • Sending unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails
  • Repeatedly calling, including hang-ups
  • Monitoring activity, such as phone calls, computer use, or schedule
  • Using technology to track the person, such as hidden cameras, computer viruses, and GPS devices
  • Driving by places where the person spends time
  • Causing damage to someone's home, car, or other property
  • Making threats, either directly to a person or that person's family, friends, pets, or colleagues; or to own self
  • Searching out information with the aid of public records, internet search services, hired investigators, or contacting friends, family, classmates, or co-workers
  • Sifting through someone's trash or other items associated with them
  • Engaging in actions meant to control, track, or frighten someone

If someone's pattern of behavior frightens you, you can work with a VAV Counselor to learn about your rights and create a safety plan.

Stalking Issues

Stalking and Social Media
Stalking Documentation
Safety Planning
Common Reactions
Taking Care of Yourself
Reporting Options
Concerns Related to Identity

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Voices Against Violece
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The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World