January 30, 2018
In recent months, we have seen what can be described as a near collapse of the American celebrity pantheon as a result of countless reports of sexual assault.
With it rose the #MeToo movement: a call for the empowerment and support, both socially and legally, of women and men who are the victims of sexual assault.
We’ve seen evil conquered by good as the perpetrators of assault have been brought down.
A precedent for sexual assault cases was set Jan. 24 with the 175-year prison sentence for a former U.S. Olympic gymnastics team doctor after hearing testimonies from the 156 accusers.
The case was closed with Judge Rosemarie Aquilina saying, “I just signed your death warrant” after throwing the former doctor’s hollow apology letter from her stand.
In Hollywood, we’ve seen the likes of Harvey Weinstein fall from power, and in journalism, we’ve seen Matt Lauer fall. In government, lawmakers and congressman, like Al Franken, face the consequences of their exploited actions.
But a separate, less publicized issue also affects men and women alike that should be part of the #MeToo movement. That issue is stalking.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month, which is meant to raise awareness about stalking and resources to help victims. As the month closes out, it’s important to continue awareness and reflect on these resources to help.
Around 7.5 million people experience an instance of stalking in the U.S. every year. Of that number, 15 percent are women and 6 percent are men, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. Unfortunately,
We all have an idea of what stalking is. Someone develops an obsession over you, following your every move, violating personal space and maybe even manipulating you to get what they want.
At UCCS, stalking occurs indirectly or directly through another person based on sexual desire. According to the University of Colorado APS 5014, it is the action of “repeatedly following, approaching, contacting, placing under surveillance or making any form of communication with any person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship.”
Stalking is a rare occurrence at UCCS, but it does happen. In 2016, there were nine instances of stalking reported to UCCS Police, according to the 2017 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report.
Stalking can be a terrifying experience for those involved. The act is unwanted, nonconsensual and harmful to the victim. It’s important that we acknowledge the unfortunate events that occur with the act. It can look like someone following you, surveilling you with GPS, receiving unwanted gifts and other forms of intrusive behavior.
If you are a victim of stalking, what can you do?
Respect on Campus, UCCS’ interpersonal violence awareness program, offers several resources for what to do if you find yourself in this situation.
Make a stalking safety plan where you document all stalking behaviors. If your stalker is surveilling you through GPS to track you, protect your personal information. If you find yourself in imminent danger, go to a safe place, like a police station, a place of worship, a friend’s house or a shelter.
While these behaviors keep you safe, they unfortunately at times cannot be enough.
Let’s bring awareness to this issue and keep each other safe.
If you find yourself in a stalking situation, report it to UCCS Police at 255-3111, or visit the Office of Public Safety on the second floor of the Gateway Garage. Students can also report anonymously at secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/14973/index.html.