University provides support, counseling for stalking victims

Lindsay Wargo

One in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime, according to the Stalking Resource Center, a national organization.

Recently, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine introduced a resolution calling for a National Stalking Awareness Month.

Although stalking is a national issue, college campuses provide an ideal environment for stalkers, according to The Sexual Victimization of College Women, a 2000 report.

According to the Kent State Police Department, 16 cases of menacing were reported on campus in fiscal year 2001-2002. In 2002-2003, 13 cases were reported, and in 2003-2004, two cases were reported.

Menacing is defined as the making of unequivocal, immediate and specific threats with the intent to create fear in the victim.

Even though the numbers show a decline in reported cases of menacing, Alice Ickes, Kent State crime prevention officer, said she believes stalking is a growing problem.

“We see a lot of behavior (on campus) that sometimes precedes stalking, as well as some actual stalking,” Ickes said.

She said students should file a report immediately if they feel they are being stalked.

“Fear and control of the other person is what the stalker wants to happen,” she said. “If you don’t give into the tactics, many times that deters them because they are not succeeding in what they’re trying to accomplish.”

Ickes said there is really no way for victims to prevent stalking because it is the stalker’s mentality that causes the stalking.

“I think (stalking) has some of the components of obsessive compulsive disorder,” said John Akamatsu, director of the Psychological Clinic at Kent State. “The person being stalked becomes an obsession for the stalker.”

Ickes said the “over-zealous attachments people have to their boyfriends or girlfriends” is part of the stalking problem. She said instead of people saying they are going to have three years of dating experience, they say they are going to instantly fall in love. The problem grows when it doesn’t work out that way.

Ickes said the department sees incidents where people are encouraging their friends to harass someone. She said people will say to their friends, “She broke up with me after all I did for her,” and then encourage them to make harassing phone calls or look for the other person’s car.

“It’s the whole juvenile thing, ‘I can only have one best friend, and if you’re not my best friend, you’re my enemy,’” Ickes said.

Akamatsu said stalking has the same effect on a victim as being assaulted or being robbed.

He said stalking is similar to any intrusion and used words like distracting, disturbing and frightening to describe the feelings that come with being stalked.

According to The Sexual Victimization of College Women, three in 10 college women reported being injured emotionally or psychologically from being stalked.

Akamatsu said talking to a psychologist “absolutely helps” victims of stalking deal with any emotional injuries they may suffer.

Students can call the Psychological Clinic at (330) 672-2372 to make an appointment or walk in Monday 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Friday 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Contact public affairs reporter Lindsay Wargo at [email protected].