Stalking awareness month has importance for Kent State student

Maranda Shrewsberry

A sophomore photojournalism major is one of the estimated 3.4 million adults who are stalked each year. This number was reported by the U.S. Department of Justice, which named January as National Stalking Awareness Month eight years ago to draw attention to victims.

The Kent State student (who asked to remain anonymous) said her ex-boyfriend stalked her.

Three out of four victims are stalked by someone they know, and 30 percent are stalked by a current or former partner, according to the Stalking Victimization in the United States Special Report.

After a month of dating, she said he accused her of cheating, and he became so angry that when he took her home that night, he drove recklessly, trying to kill them both.

“I had to jump out of the car and roll (into a friend’s yard),” she said.

After that, she broke up with him.

She said he became obsessed with her, always trying to contact her and constantly looking at her social networking sites, using friends’ profiles after she blocked him.

One night, he found out his roommate liked her, so he threatened to kill him, she said.

“He claimed he was being a protective friend but he was being an over-protective ex who wanted me back,” she said.

“No one deserves to be abused, No one deserves to be terrorized.” Tonia Moultry

Ohio Domestic Violence Network

She said she decided to block him on her phone and all other communication devices except Facebook in case he wanted to hurt one of her friends again, she said.

But last fall, she gave him another chance.

“He kept trying to convince me he changed, and I wanted to believe he was better,” she said.

He had not changed, she said.

“I didn’t want to hear from him ever and told him to leave me alone,” she said.

The two didn’t talk for a while, but this month, she said he sent her a message saying he will be attending Kent State this fall.

She said she is already cautious in public, keeping her back against the window on buses and keeping an eye on her surroundings, but she hopes for the best when he comes to Kent.

“It’s a large campus,” she said. “I’m just hoping I never run into him.”

She told all told her friends what he looks like and warned them about the situation so they can alert her if he is near, she said. Tonia Moultry, training and technical assistance director at the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, said it is a good thing to alert friends. The victim is not alone then, and friends can witness the obsessive behavior.

“It’s a matter of being aware of your environment,” she said.

Another good thing to do is document any incidents with a stalker, Moultry said.

“You want to make sure you’re documenting it so you can find their pattern of behavior,” she said.

Although stalking is hard to prove, Moultry said, it is a crime that has crossed into the technological realm as well as the physical one.

The SVS reports that 1-in-4 victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology. Ten percent of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems, and 8 percent report being monitored through video or digital cameras or listening devices.

“People may be being watched or monitored and not be aware of it,” she said.

Moultry said victims should not blame themselves.

“No one deserves to be abused,” she said. “No one deserves to be terrorized.”