Stalking

Stalking is defined as harassing or threatening behavior that is engaged in repeatedly. Such harassment can be either physical stalking or cyber stalking:

  • Physical stalking is committed when a person intentionally and for no legitimate purpose, engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and knows or reasonably should know that such conduct is likely to cause fear of material harm to the physical, mental, or emotional health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom he or she is acquainted. This could include creating reasonable fear that such person’s employment, business or career is being threatened. This is typically accomplished by following someone or appearing at their home, school or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving messages or objects, or vandalizing the person’s property.
  • Cyber stalking is similar behavior through the use of the internet or other electronic means to accomplish the same end. The fact that cyber stalking doesn’t involve physical contact doesn’t mean that it is less dangerous than physical stalking. An experienced Internet user can easily find the victim’s personal information such as phone number, address or place of business to locate their whereabouts. This can then lead to more physical behavior. Stalking is defined as a crime by the New York State Penal Law (Section 120.45 – 120.60).

 

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 8% of women and 2% of men have been stalked at one point in their lives. About one million women and 400,000 men are stalked each year in the United States. Most victims know their stalker. Women are significantly more likely to be stalked by an intimate partner, that is a current or former spouse, a co-habiting partner, or a date. Only 23% of stalkers identified by females were strangers. Currently or formerly battered women have the greatest risk of being stalked. Young adults are the primary targets. 74% of victims are 18-39 years old when the stalking started. About 87% of the stalkers were men.

There are several signs that are good indicators of stalking behavior:

  1. Persistent phone calls despite being told not to contact the victim in any form.
  2. Waiting at or outside the victim’s workplace, residence or school.
  3. Overt threats.
  4. Manipulative behavior (for example: threatening to harm themselves in order to get a response to such an “emergency” in the form of contact).
  5. Sending written messages: letters, e-mails, graffiti, etc.
  6. The persistent sending of gifts.
  7. Defamation: The stalker often lies to others about the victim.
  8. “Objectification”: The stalker derogates the victim reducing him/her to an object. This allows the stalker the ability to feel angry with the victim without experiencing empathy.

 

If you become the victim of a stalker do not take it lightly. There are some initial precautions you can take:

  1. Notify the Department of Public Safety. Even if the problem is not college related they can assist you in reporting the problem to the proper law enforcement agency and in applying for a restraining order. If you already have an order, file a copy with the Director. “Deny Access” memos can be issued to all Public Safety personnel.
  2. Document everything. Even if you have decided not to go the legal route, you may change your mind. Keep answering machine tapes, letters, gifts, etc. Keep a log of drive-bys or any suspicious occurrences.
  3. Tell the stalker “no” once and only once, and then never give him the satisfaction of a reaction again. The more you respond, the more you teach him that his actions will elicit a response. This only serves to reinforce the stalking.
  4. Have co-workers screen all calls and visitors.
  5. Don’t accept packages unless they were personally ordered.
  6. Destroy discarded mail.
  7. If you think you are being followed in your car drive to the nearest police station, never home or to a friend’s house.
  8. Never be afraid to sound your horn to attract attention.
  9. Don’t be ashamed and think you caused this somehow. Instead, tell everyone you know that you’re being stalked, from neighbors and co-workers to classmates, so that when the stalker approaches them for information about you, they will be alerted not to divulge anything and will let you know that he or she has been around.

 

Victim Assistance
In cases of sexual assault there are many outside sources of support available to victims. The list includes the following:

24 HOUR HOTLINES
RAINN – Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network 1-800 656-HOPE
Victims Services Agency (212) 577-7777
Sexual Assault Victim’s Counseling Program (212) 227-3000
Sex Crimes Hotline (212) 374-5260
Victim Services Sexual Assault & Incest Hotline (212) 227-5000
RAPE CRISIS PROGRAMS
Bellevue Hospital Rape Crisis Coordinator (212) 562-3435
Beth Israel Medical Center, Victim Services Director (212) 420-4516
Long Island College Hospital, Rape Crisis Director (718) 780-1459
Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Rape Crisis Director (212) 423-2140
North Central Bronx Hospital, Rape Crisis Coordinator (718) 519-4912
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800 799-SAFE
St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital (212) 523-4728
CRIME VICTIM’S TREATMENT CENTER
St. Vincent’s Hospital, Rape Crisis Director (212) 604-8068
Victim Services Center, Westchester County (914) 345-3113
Victim Services, Staten Island, Rape Crisis Coordinator (718) 448-3118


New York State Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA)
Registered sex offenders in New York are classified by the risk of re-offense. A court determines whether an offender is a level 1 (low risk), 2 (moderate risk), or 3 (high risk).The court also determines whether an offender should be given the designation of a sexual predator, sexually violent offender or predicate sex offender. Offenders are required to be registered for 20 years or life. Level 1 offenders with no designation must register for twenty years. Level 1 offenders with a designation, as well as level 2 and level 3 offenders regardless of whether they have a designation must register for life.

In New York, the Division of Criminal Justice Services reports the presence of a Registered Sex Offender (RSO) on a CUNY campus to:

  1. The New York City Police Department Sex Crimes Monitoring Unit;
  2. The director of Public Safety & Security at the CUNY college that the RSO attends or works, volunteers, or resides at;
  3. The chief law enforcement officer of the jurisdiction in which the RSO resides.

 

To obtain information about sex offenders residing in New York State you can call 1-800-262-3257 or you can access the Subdirectory on the Division of Criminal Justice Services web site. You can also contact the Director of the Department of Public Safety at (212) 237-8524.

For additional information, please consult the John Jay Women's Center.