Most people agree in principle that crime prevention and personal safety are important issues. In reality, many are lax in taking precautions that could make a difference in their lives. College students are no exception.
Whether you live on campus or commute, you'll have more than enough activity to keep you busy. It's possible that crime prevention won't have a high priority on your list of priorities and responsibilities. You may find excuses for not making crime prevention and personal awareness a part of your daily routine.
A common perception is that college campuses are refuges, set apart from the rest of the world, where nothing bad happens. The University of Hartford is a community. In many respects it's like a town or city. While some assume that crimes don't occur on college campuses, the reality is that our community, like others, is not entirely free of criminal activity and behavior.
Crime does and will continue to occur, but you can take steps to lessen the chances of becoming a victim. The information provided below is a reference to help you prevent crime and enhance your personal safety.
Free bicycle registration is provided by the Department of Public Safety. If your bicycle is ever lost, stolen, or confiscated for non-compliance with the University bicycle policy, registration will aid the department in locating a returning your bicycle.
To register your bicycle, complete the bicycle registration form.
Call Public Safety to make an appointment to bring your bicycle, completed form, and University ID to the Public Safety Office to complete the process.
As a reminder...
The bicycle racks available at various locations on campus should be used for securing bicycles. Bicycles should not be chained to fences, doors, trees, or other objects, and under no circumstances may bicycles be brought into any University building. The Connecticut State Fire Code dictates that all entrances, exits, corridors, and stairwells must be free and clear at all times. Bicycles found in violation of this code will be removed from the area.
Here are a few theft prevention tips...
• When you secure your bicycle to a designated bike rack, be sure to secure the lock around a portion of the bicycle that can’t be easily removed. (i.e the frame)
• Never leave your bicycle unattended or unsecure, even if it’s just for a minute.
• If you notice someone hanging around a bicycle rack, report this to Public Safety.
For bicycle safety tips, visit the National High Traffic Safety Administration website.
Be a Good Bystander
The University of Hartford encourages all community members to educate themselves about interpersonal violence and share this info with friends. Confront friends who make excuses for other peoples abusive behavior, speak up against racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes or remarks. A good is bystander someone who models pro-social behaviors and intervenes when a potentially dangerous situation occurs.
To combat sexual assault on campus, the most powerful tool is your conveying your concern. The best way bystanders can assist in creating an empowering climate free of interpersonal violence is to diffuse the problem behaviors before they escalate.
Often people don't intervene because they may assume the situation isn't a problem, or feel it is none of their business. They may assume that someone else will do something, or believe that other people weren't bothered by the problem. In some cases, a person might feel their personal safety is at risk.
When people do intervene in a situation, they often say that it was the right thing to do, and that they would want someone to intervene if the roles were reversed.
Bystander Intervention Keys
- Notice the Incident. Bystanders first must notice the incident taking place. Obviously, if they don't take note of the situation there is no reason to help.
- Interpret Incident as Emergency. Bystanders also need to evaluate the situation and determine whether it is an emergency, or at least one in which someone needs assistance. Again, if people do not interpret a situation as one in which someone needs assistance, then there is no need to provide help
- Assume Responsibility. Another decision bystanders make is whether they should assume responsibility for giving help. One repeated finding in research studies on helping is that a bystander is less likely to help if there are other bystanders present. When other bystanders are present responsibility for helping is diffused. If a lone bystander is present he or she is more likely to assume responsibility.
- Attempt to Help. Whether this is to help the person leave the situation, confront a behavior, diffuse a situation, or call for other support/security.
In a situation potentially involving sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking:
- Approach everyone as a friend
- Do not be antagonistic
- Avoid using violence
- Be honest and direct whenever possible
- Recruit help if necessary
- Keep yourself safe
- Keep your phone handy, call for help or document when you can safely do so.
- If things get out of hand or become too serious, contact the Public Safety or the police.
The College of William and Mary put together a playbook of advice for bystander intervention. These tips may be useful.
- Defensive Split Step in and separate two people. Let them know your concerns and reasons for intervening. Be a friend and let them know you are acting in their best interest. Make sure each person makes it home safely
- Pick and Roll Use a distraction to redirect the focus somewhere else: “Hey, I need to talk to you.” or “Hey, this party is lame. Let’s go somewhere else.”
- The Option Evaluate the situation and people involved to determine your best move. You could directly intervene yourself, or alert friends of each person to come in and help. If the person reacts badly, try a different approach.
- Full Court Press Recruit the help of friends of both people to step in as a group.
- Fumblerooski Divert the attention of one person away from the other person. Have someone standing by to redirect the other person’s focus (see Pick and Roll). Commit a party foul (i.e. spilling your drink) if you need to.
Please remember.. If you see something, say something.
DON’T FALL VICTIM TO ‘CARD CRACKING”
A new scam that is happening all around college campuses is called “card cracking.” The scam involves someone contacting students either in person, by phone, email, or social media outlets to set up a deal.
The deal is to let them use the student’s debit card to process a check through this or her account. The student sees a large deposit in his or her account then quickly sees half of that deposit withdrawn. When the bank realizes that the check was counterfeit, the deposited funds disappear from the account and the student is left to cover any funds withdrawn from the account.
Students should be vigilant to not fall victim to this type of scam. Here are some important things to remember about bank accounts and debit cards.
- Never allow strangers access to your debit card or bank accounts for any reason.
- Remember that the pin to your debit card is private information that you, and only you should know.
- Use “hard to guess” pins on all accounts linked to financial information and do not auto fill passwords on mobile devices or computers.
- Report lost, stolen or compromised debit cards immediately to your financial institution.
- Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
KEEP YOUR UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD ID ON YOU. During Spring Fling, do not remove your wristband.
Get home safely
- Use a designated driver
- Stay with your friends. Remember, “We come together, we leave together”
- Never leave a friend alone
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning:
- Slowed breathing (<10 breaths/minute)
- Eyes roll back into head
- Vomiting while unconscious
- Slowed heart rate
- Skin color change
If an individual is vomiting, turn him or her on his or her side to prevent choking on vomit
CALL PUBLIC SAFETY IMMEDIATELY IF YOU SUSPECT ALCOHOL POISONING
- Always keep your drink in sight
- Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to prevent alcohol poisoning
- Load up on carbs and protein before going out.
- Wear covered shoes, not flip flops or sandals (flip flops and broken glass don’t mix)
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
- Always lock your door when leaving your dorm or apartment and keep your keys with you.
- Bottles and cans are not allowed outside. Please leave backpacks in your room.
In an effort to further enhance our University’s cyber defenses, we want to highlight a common cyber-attack that everyone should be aware of – phishing.
"Phishing" is the most common type of cyber attack that affects organizations like ours. Phishing attacks can take many forms, but they all share a common goal – getting you to share sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card information, gift card information, or bank account details.
Although we maintain controls to help protect our networks and computers from cyber threats, we rely on you to be our first line of defense. Everyone makes a difference when it comes to cyber security.
We’ve outlined a few different types of phishing attacks to watch out for:
- Phishing: In this type of attack, hackers impersonate a real company to obtain your login credentials. You may receive an e-mail asking you to verify your account details with a link that takes you to an imposter login screen that delivers your information directly to the attackers.
- Whaling: Whaling is a popular ploy aimed at getting you to transfer money or send sensitive information to an attacker via email by impersonating a real company executive. Using a fake domain that appears similar to ours, they look like normal emails from a high-level official of the company and ask you for sensitive information. Recently campus has seen this attack using a request for gift cards or cash. Please contact OTS or Public Safety if you suspect this type of Phishing.
- Shared Document Phishing: You may receive an e-mail that appears to come from file-sharing sites like Dropbox or Google Drive alerting you that a document has been shared with you. The link provided in these e-mails will take you to a fake login page that mimics the real login page and will steal your account credentials.
What You Can Do
To avoid these phishing schemes, please observe the following email best practices:
- Do not click on links or attachments from senders that you do not recognize.
- Do not provide sensitive personal information (like usernames and passwords).
- Watch for email senders that use suspicious or misleading domain names.
- Do not try to open any shared document that you’re not expecting to receive.
- If you can’t tell if an email is legitimate or not, please report it immediately to OTS at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.768.4357; or Public Safety at email@example.com or 860.768.7985..
Thanks again for helping to keep our network, and our University, safe from these cyber threats.
Date Rape Drugs
Most students forget that alcohol is the number one date rape drug on college campuses. Approximately 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape (Hingson et al., 2005). Although it is important to protect yourself against other date rape drugs, alcohol is by far the most widely used.
How can I Protect Myself From Being a Victim?
- Remember Alcohol is the number one date rape drug.
Don't accept drinks from other people.
Open containers yourself.
Keep your drink with you at all times, even when you go to the bathroom.
Don't share drinks.
Don't drink from punch bowls or other open containers. They may already have drugs in them.
If someone offers to get you a drink from a bar or at a party, go with the person to order your drink. Watch the drink being poured and carry it yourself.
Don't drink anything that tastes or smells strange. Sometimes GHB (date rape drug) can taste salty.
Have a nondrinking friend with you to make sure nothing happens.
If you realize you left your drink unattended, pour it out.
If you feel drunk and haven't been drinking -- or, if you feel like the effects of drinking alcohol are stronger than usual -- get help right away.
Information about other "Date Rape Drugs"
ECSTASY / XTC
MDMA, with street alias, Ecstasy, is a designer drug usually found at raves. MDMA is an amphetamine derivative and it is considered to be a strong stimulant. Its chemical structure is similar to two other synthetic drugs, methamphetamine and MDA. It is generally sold in the pill/tablet form for about $20 to $30 a pill.
Effects of Ecstasy
MDMA stimulates the release of the serotonin from brain neurons, producing a high that lasts from several minutes to an hour. The drug’s rewarding effects vary with the individual taking it, the dose and purity, and the environment in which it is taken. MDMA can produce stimulant effects such as an enhanced sense of pleasure and self-confidence and increased energy. Its psychedelic effects include feelings of peacefulness, acceptance, and empathy. Users claim they experience feelings of closeness with others and a desire to touch them.
With regular and frequent use, tolerance builds to the effects of the drug, while dangerous results increase with continued use. The drug effects are unpredictable among different individuals even if given the same dosage.
Users experience confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia-during and sometimes weeks after use (even psychotic episodes have been reported), muscle tension, involuntary teeth-clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movements, faintness, and chills or sweating; increases in heart rate and blood pressure (a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease).
The Rohypnol pill looks like aspirin. Rohypnol is usually sold in its original bubble packaging just as most prescription drugs are. This unfortunately assists in creating the misperception that this “medicine” is safe or legal. Generic and illegally manufactured versions exist. Cost ranges from $0.50 to $5 a pill.Why “Date Rape Drug”?
Like alcohol, the drug is considered a date rape drug of choice; attackers slip the drug into victims’ drinks to promote disinhibition. The drug is given to unwary victims (male or female) without their consent. The victim is physically incapacitated and has impaired judgment. This makes victims more vulnerable to assault and rape. Because of the memory loss and confusion under the influence of this drug, rape cases are difficult to prosecute. Recently, screening for Rohypnol has improved.|
One trend is termed synthetic speedballing. This involves combining Ecstasy and Rohypnol to induce a stronger effect. To produce a “floating effect,” Rohypnol is also used in combination with marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. College students typically use alcohol in combination with Rohypnol to create an enhanced feeling of drunkenness. High school students use the drug as a “cheap drunk” without the smell of alcohol. In some areas, it is associated with gangs and is known as a club drug. It is also popular in raves. Warning – when used in combination with other drugs including alcohol, Rohypnol presents great risk of overdose. Results are fatal because breathing stops. Combining Rohypnol with MDMA (Ecstasy) can lead to heart failure, coma, and death.
Effects of the Drug
Rohypnol produces sedative effects, amnesia, muscle relaxation, and the slowing of psychomotor performance. Sedation occurs within 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion of a 2-mg tablet, and lasts for approximately 8 hours. Peak effect takes place after approximately 2 hours causing most victims to lose consciousness. Those who ingest the Rohypnol become extremely relaxed, can lose bodily control. They are uninhibited and appear to be very drunk. Greatest physiological risk occurs when Rohypnol is used in with other drugs.
Rohypnol is 10 times more potent than Valium and enters the bloodstream as quickly as 15 minutes after ingestion. A single 2-milligram pill has the same potency as a 6-pack of beer, but the effects differ slightly. Users can experience extreme sedation, dizziness, and loss of bodily control. Rohypnol causes an intoxication where users don’t care about what they do or cannot stop what happens to them. Users have great difficulty remembering what happened while they were under the influence of the drug; it wipes the memory clean.
What is Ketamine
Ketamine was developed in the 1960’s as an anesthetic for surgeries. Today it is used mostly by veterinarians. Ketamine causes unconsciousness, hallucinations, loss of body control and numbing. Overdose can be fatal. Ketamine is found in a white powder or a liquid and has a horrible, strong bitter flavor. Ketamine works very quickly, so if you tasted it in your drink you would only have a few seconds before losing consciousness.
What is GHB
GHB is a depressant that is chemically similar to a substance that is found in every cell of the human body. GHB was used in the past to treat childbirth problems and anxiety. It was made illegal in the 90’s as GHB slows the brain and body and is easy to overdose and cause addiction. In small doses it produces mild sedation, slowed heart and breathing rates. In large doses it can cause seizures, coma, or death.
ARE THERE WAYS TO TELL IF I MIGHT HAVE BEEN DRUGGED AND RAPED?
It is often hard to tell. Most victims don't remember being drugged or assaulted. The victim might not be aware of the attack until 8 or 12 hours after it occurred. These drugs also leave the body very quickly. Once a victim gets help, there might be no proof that drugs were involved in the attack. But there are some signs that you might have been drugged:
- You feel drunk and haven't drunk any alcohol — or, you feel like the effects of drinking alcohol are stronger than usual.
- You wake up feeling very hung over and disoriented or having no memory of a period of time.
- You remember having a drink, but cannot recall anything after that.
- You find that your clothes are torn or not on right.
- You feel like you had sex, but you cannot remember it.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I'VE BEEN DRUGGED AND RAPED?
- Call Public Safety 860-768-7777 or 7777 from any campus phone, they will assist you in getting medical care as needed. Have a trusted friend stay with you at least until you receive help. Tell the Public Safety exactly what you remember. Be honest about all your activities. Remember, nothing you did — including drinking alcohol or doing drugs — can justify rape.
- If you seek medical attention on your own, ask the hospital to take a urine (pee) sample that can be used to test for date rape drugs. The drugs leave your system quickly. Rohypnol stays in the body for several hours, and can be detected in the urine up to 72 hours after taking it. GHB leaves the body in 12 hours. Don't urinate before going to the hospital.
- Don't pick up or clean up where you think the assault might have occurred. There could be evidence left behind — such as on a drinking glass or bed sheets.
- Get counseling and treatment. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. A counselor can help you work through these emotions and begin the healing process. Call Counseling and Psychological Services at 860-768-4482 or Health Services 860-768-6601
A side affect of the extensive campus communication system is the possibility of nuisance or harassing phone calls and e-mail. Should you receive a harassing, obscene, or nuisance message via telephone, e-mail, or instant messages, contact Public Safety and report the incident. In addition, it is recommended that you follow these suggestions:
- Hang up! As soon as you hear an unusual sound, obscenity, or no response, hang up. If the call is repeated, hang up again.
- Do not engage in conversation. This is what the caller wants.
- If the caller says that he/she is conducting a sex survey or offers any unusual reason for the call, state that you are not interested and hang up.
- Do not give out your name, address, telephone number, living arrangements, class schedule, or any other personal information over the phone.
- Avoid placing your phone number in the newspaper or elsewhere.
- If you are receiving harassing telephone calls frequently, keep a log to record time, date, and type of call for investigative purposes.
E-mails or Instant Messages
- If possible, save a copy of the e-mail, instant message, or other form of communication with offensive content.
- Print out a copy, sign and date it, and keep it in a safe place. If you cannot save a copy, write down the details of the correspondence including the date, time, and description of what was written, said, or done. The more you have documented, the stronger your case will be.
- Never encourage interaction with the caller.
- Avoid chat rooms.
Distribution of Copyrighted Material via University Network
Are you downloading or distributing copyrighted materials, such as music, videos or movies, or games across the University's network system via peer-to-peer (P2P), E-mail, FTP, WWW, Chat, ICQ, etc? If you are, you're in violation of both the University's Judicial Code as outlined in The Source as well as numerous federal, state, and local laws!
This activity is both illegal and gums up the Internet connection, depriving others of legitimate access to the Internet. Examples of such materials include:
- music (MP3, etc.)
- movies and videos (.asf, .mpg, .avi, .mov, etc.)
- video games
When a copyrightholder, or a representative such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Business Software Alliance (BSA), notifies the University that they have discovered a copyright violation on a computer connected to the network:
- The network port(s) in the room where the activity is occurring is shut down.
- 1st offense:The port(s) will remain off for two academic weeks
- 2nd offense:The port(s) will remain off for four academic weeks
- After 2nd offense:Referred to Judicial Office; reduction in housing status
- Public Safety Investigator notifies student, usually within three business days.
Questions and answers:
Is it illegal for me to download unauthorized copies of music, movies, games or software?
Yes, according to Federal Law and the University Judicial Code
Is it illegal for me to upload, transmit, send, or offer unauthorized copies of music, movies, games or software?
Yes, according to Federal Law and the University Judicial Code
Is it illegal for me to perform and record my own music, write my own games, or film my own videos for distribution?
No, you may distribute content that you create yourself on the University's network, provided that it does not violate federal, state, or municipal law, and does not create an undue strain on the University's resources or Internet connection.
The Office of Technology Services (OTS) continuously monitors the University network for illegal use. Once it is determined that illegal activity is taking place:
OTS captures the evidence from the network stream.
OTS shuts down the network port(s) in the room where the activity is occurring. The port(s) will remain shut down pending the outcome of a conduct hearing.
OTS notifies the Public Safety Investigator and turns over the evidence
Public Safety investigator notifies the student(s) usually within three business days.
The investigator interviews the student(s) and files charges with the Office of Student Conduct Administration.
Public Safety Operation ID is based upon a national program designed to reduce theft. The program is free and involves:
- Engraving your property with your driver's license number to reduce the outlets by which thieves can dispose of your belongings. Such property in their possession provides evidence of thieves' guilt. Engraving also aids in identifying, tracing, and returning your property when it is recovered
- The methodical inventory of the contents of your residence and the recording of pertinent information to help you expedite insurance claims and assist in returning your stolen goods. Public Safety provides inventory sheets specifically designed to record the most important information.
View and print the property registration form. Complete the form and contact Public Safety to have your property engraved.
Personal safety is first and foremost an individual responsibility. Ask yourself, “Through my actions and behaviors, am I increasing the chances that I may become the victim of a crime?” Personal safety has to start with the use of your common sense, easily ignored in our busy everyday lives. The following personal safety tips are nothing new, but it is important to be reminded of them from time to time.
- Do not walk alone! Always try to walk with another person or with a group of people.
- Do not walk in dimly lit areas or take risky shortcuts. Use well-traveled and well-lit sidewalks and roadways.
- Do not jog or run alone. Run with a partner. It's more fun and definitely safer.
- Try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash and avoid flashing money around. Money attracts attention!
- Avoid wearing Walkman-style headphones, especially at night, while walking, running, or driving. Headphones can prevent you from hearing what is going on around you.
- If you feel that you are being followed or sense that something is wrong in your immediate environment, change direction or cross the street and head for any well-lit area, any occupied building, or to an emergency phone.
- If you feel threatened, scream “help!” Remember a criminal does not like noise or attention.
- Avoid overloading yourself with an excessive number of books, and/or shopping bags, etc., when walking.
- If you are confronted by a thief, give up your purse or wallet. Money, credit cards, and other property can easily be replaced. You cannot!
- Use the shuttle bus and escort services provided by Public Safety. These services are available Sunday through Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
- Always be aware of the location of all Public Safety fire boxes, telephones, and blue-light emergency telephones located throughout campus.
UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD POLICY ON REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE
To inform University community members of their obligations under University policy to report suspected child abuse.
ANY MEMBER OF THE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY who observes something that they suspect to be child abuse on campus or at a University-sponsored event is required to report the suspected abuse, as described below. You do not have to know for certain that abuse is taking place. It’s enough that you reasonably suspect that a child has been abused. When in doubt, report it.
WHAT KIND OF HARM APPLIES TO THIS POLICY? Child abuse can include physical injury (not caused by accident), mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, maltreatment, or neglect (whether physical, emotional or moral), including being denied proper care attention. Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a child.
The University prohibits any kind of retaliation against any person who, acting in good faith, reports potential child abuse or testifies in a legal action regarding child abuse.
If a University employee willfully fails to report a case of suspected child abuse, then the University has a right to impose disciplinary action up to – and including – dismissal.
HOW TO MAKE A REPORT:
IF YOU SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE ON CAMPUS OR AT A UNIVERSITY-SPONSORED EVENT, immediately contact either Public Safety 24 hours/day at campus extension 7777 (or 860.768.7777), or Connecticut Department of Children and Families at 1-800-842-2288 (if no answer, then immediately contact Childhelp at 1-800-422- 4453).
IF A CHILD IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, contact Public Safety at campus extension 7777 (or 860.768.7777), or call local police at 911, to obtain immediate protection for the child.
In either report situation, be prepared to describe to the best of your ability the following:• Your name and telephone number;
• The date, time, and location of the incident(s);
• Whether the child is in immediate danger, and whether an ambulance is required;
• A description of the child, the potential abuser and parent/caretaker (name and address if known, age, gender, clothing and physical description);
• A description of the incident(s), or basis for concern; and• A description of any vehicle involved (if relevant).
IF CHILD ABUSE IS OBSERVED OR SUSPECTED IN CONNECTION WITH A RESEARCH PROJECT:
The University’s research policy requires ethical treatment and protection of any human research participant. All human subjects research is safeguarded by the University’s Human Subjects Committee (“HSC”). The HSC reviews, approves and monitors reporting procedures, and the principal investigator is responsible for all aspects of the research, including reporting any child abuse identified through the research. In addition to calling one of the numbers listed above, anyone who observes something that they suspect to be child abuse that is connected in any way to research should contact the Office of the Provost at 860.786.4504.
Crime Prevention Tips
With the move in weekend past us, it’s time to settle in and get the school year started. One important thing that should not be overlooked is dorm room safety. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind as the school year starts.
- Always lock your door. Make sure you and your roommate are on the same page about this. Even if you’re stepping out for a couple minutes be sure to lock up. Never give your key to another person. If you lose your key, request that your lock be changed as soon as possible.
- Always communicate with your roommate and watch each other’s backs. Exchange class and work schedules so you have a general idea of where you’re supposed to be in the event that something happens.
- Lock your windows when you leave the room and when you are sleeping. This is a good practice even if you do not live on the ground level.
- Never open the door for strangers. Always verify who is at the door by using the peep hole.
- Always put your high priced items away. When you or your roommate have visitors to the room you do not want your Beats, cell phone, wallet, and laptop out for all to see. Eliminate that opportunity of theft.
- Know all the evacuation routes within the building. In the event of an emergency you are not going to have time to check out the posted map. Learn this ahead of time. Communicate a meeting spot with your roommate and other close friends that live in the building.
- Save these two numbers in your cell phone:
Public Safety Routine: 860-768-7985
Public Safety Emergency: 860-768-7777
Never take your personal safety for granted. There is nothing wrong with being too cautious. College life can be exciting and you want the memories to be good ones. Make the most of your time here at the University of Hartford and remember, your personal safety starts with you.
SEE SOMETHING. SAY SOMETHING.
Safety on Campus
A Shared Responsibility
General Advice for Stalking Victims
When victims of stalking seek assistance, they usually ask the following questions:
- Am I in danger?
- Will it continue?
- If it has stopped, will it start again?
- Will I ever get over this?
- What do I need to do to stop it?
Although there is no “one size fits all” list of recommendations that will be applicable to all stalking situations, there are four Golden Rules that should be followed if you find yourself the victim of stalking:
- Have NO contact with the stalker
- Tell others
- Increase personal protection
- Collect evidence
1. Have No Contact with the Stalker
After the stalker has been told by the victim in a calm, clear and firm manner that their attention is unwanted and that they are to stop all contact, the victim, their family and friends should have no further contact with the stalker. Stalkers want a reaction whether it’s positive or negative. It is crucial to ensure that:
- Everyone involved understands the importance of not appealing to the stalker to stop, threatening them or retaliating to provocation
- The police should be the only ones to confront the stalker
- If contact is necessary due to the shared custody of children, arrange for a professional organization or police station to be the handover point. The victim should never meet the stalker alone or at their home
- If there is accidental contact with the stalker, the victim should try not to show any emotion and leave the situation as soon as possible. Seek refuge in the closest shop or business and call the police emergency number if the stalker tries to approach.
2. Tell Others
Although many stalking victims are reluctant to inform others of what they are going through, it is important that those around the victim know what is happening. This includes family, friends, co-habitants, work colleagues and even neighbors. By explaining the situation the victim can:
- Reduce the possibility of others inadvertently providing information to the stalker or access to the victim
- Alerts them to the significance of any events they witness
- Helps to provide stronger evidence should the case go to court
- Obtain the necessary support to get through the ordeal
What to tell others
- Give clear instructions not to initiate any contact with the stalker and tell them what to do should the stalker make contact with them; e.g. avoid any aggressive or hostile interactions and not provide any information.
- Describe the stalker or give them a picture.
- Provide the make, model and license number of the stalker’s vehicle(s), if known.
- If they can, get them to photograph the stalker without the stalker knowing and tell them to contact the police.
- Children should be told not collect the mail or answer the phone
3. Increase Personal Protection
- Change daily routines e.g. the route or times going work, gym or other frequently attended locations
- Know the location of the closest police station and those along the routes frequently travelled
- Keep a list of critical telephone numbers including emergency services and other supports next to your home telephone and have them on speed dial on your mobile/cell phone.
- Have an unlisted telephone number and be discerning who that is given to. Have caller ID on your phone and screen all calls from unknown numbers by using an answering machine or service.
- Ensure that telephone calls and visitors are screened at work
- Avoid walking alone at night or in quiet remote areas
- Have an escort to your car when leaving work
- Get a personal duress alarm
- Consider whether self-defense training would be useful
- Let people know where you are going and how long you will be
- Join an auto club so that you can call for assistance if you find you have a flat tire/s or your car has been tampered with
- Check your car before getting in. Regularly check for tracking devices and turn off the GPS on all mobile/cell phones
- Inform schools or day care centers that your children attend of the situation
- Always carry a mobile telephone so you can call for assistance, including when you are at home
- Develop a safety plan that includes how to exit your home quickly and arranging a safe place to go
- As a last option, you may have to consider moving to a new location. If you choose to do this, ensure that you take measures to ensure that your are not traceable.
Improve Home Security
- Change locks – install deadlocks, window and manhole locks
- Install sensor lights that are beyond easy reach
- Keep torches in easy to access places around the home
- Install fire alarms and ensure that they are always in working order and have battery back-up and have all purpose fire extinguishers available
- Have peephole in the doors
- Remove hiding places (trim bushes)
- Don’t leave ladders or other means of climbing around the house
- Lock your power box
- Get a post office box or at least have a lock on the mailbox
- Get a dog
- Protect pets
- Get a home security check. Many police stations offer this service.
Protect Personal Information
- Only give personal details to those you trust
- Get a post office box or at least have a lock on the mailbox
- Shred all paperwork before throwing it out
- Consider having property owned by a trust fund
- Don’t give out personal information online
- Close accounts such as Facebook, Myspace, including children’s accounts
- Don’t show your name at the entrance to your residence
- Don’t have personalized number plates on your car
- Remove details from the electoral role if applicable
- Don’t use your home address for anything related to business
- Be careful what you say on cordless telephones as conversations can be monitored by scanner. Baby monitors can also transmit conversations in the home.
- Ensure your computer has a strict firewall and is well protected against viruses
4. Collect Evidence
Proof is crucial in preparing a case against the stalker and it cannot be overestimated how important it is to keep all evidence and document your encounters and experience. The following are some ways in which to collect evidence:
- Compile a journal that is a chronological summary of events from that first day through to the present. Keep it brief and include everything you can remember, even if it seems trivial, and record dates, times, and witnesses to the encounters. Include telephone calls, items left or sent and any encounters with the stalker. You may start to see a set pattern develop. Don’t ever lie about or minimize your involvement with the stalker. If the stalker is prosecuted and it is discovered that you did not tell the truth, it will damage your case as they will suspect that everything else you say is untrue.
- Organize paperwork in a filing system e.g. Police reports, hard copies of e-mails telephone records or by date.
- Keep originals in a safe place and a copy of everything in another location. Scan any paperwork, pictures, etc. and send an e-mail copy to an e-mail account specifically set up for this purpose and send a copy to a friend. Keep the copy up-to-date.
- Don’t scribble on original documents, add notes.
- Save everything. Keep e-mails on the computer and in hard copy.
- Keep a log of expenses and receipts as they may later be important in regards to any claims for compensation.
- Keep a small camera or use a mobile phone to take pictures of any items in the location in which they are found. This is also important for perishable items such as flowers or damage to property. If there is a time/date facility on the camera use that. If photographing the stalker, use extreme caution, try not to be obvious and under no circumstances compromise safety.
- If items are delivered, contact the delivery service to determine who placed the order, when, and how it was paid for (cash or credit card). Try to obtain a description of the person who placed the order.
- Handle all evidence carefully so as not to smudge fingerprints. Either hold items by the corner or use tweezers. Keep the item in separate plastic bag.
- Keep the tapes from answering machines or, if your machine is digital, keep a second recording of the message elsewhere.
- Have someone else listen to any messages
- Try to record the message so can be stored in another format.
- Keep text messages on the phone, download to computer and show others
- Have a generic message on all phones or have a same gender friend record your voicemail message to discourage the stalker from calling you to hear your voice
Reporting the stalking to police
- Go with someone else if possible
- Present evidence in a collated organized fashion
- Know the anti-stalking legislation applicable to your jurisdiction
- Include copies of previous court orders related to the stalking situation
- Keep a copy of all material presented to police
- Record where, when, and to whom the report was made
- Ask for a copy of the report or obtain the report number (quote with future contact)
- Ask if you can have one or two officers allocated to the case so you don’t have to keep repeating your story
- Ask to be kept informed of any contact the police have with the stalker so that you can be prepared for the possibility of retaliatory acts. This includes the issuing of warnings, the serving of protection orders or laying of charges
- Consider whether you want to apply for a protection order
- Ensure that all breaches of protection orders are recorded and reported to police immediately
- If you have relocated, ensure that your new details are not inadvertently provided to the stalker in legal paperwork
- If the complaint is not taken seriously or breaches of protection orders are not acted on, request to speak to a senior officer. If the outcome is still unsatisfactory, lodge a formal complaint. However, remember that unless there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed, there is often little that the police can do
Mistakes Victims Make
- Providing too much information about themselves to people they don’t know
- Not giving a clear calm message that they are not interested in a relationship
- Not listening to their intuition.
- Ignoring the early warning signs
- Not taking the situation seriously
- Responding to a stalker in any way, shape, or form
- Trying to reason or bargain with a stalker
- Blaming themselves
- Not taking adequate privacy and safety precautions
- Seeking a restraining or protective order without thinking of the potential consequences.
- Failing to obtain support from others either personally or professionally, including family, friends, work colleagues and police
- Expecting police to solve the problem and not taking responsibility their own safety
- Obtaining a weapon that can be used against them
- Ignoring their emotional needs during and after a stalking
For more information, visit:
National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center
A company called Student Advocate has targeted University of Hartford students on social media with the promise of student loan forgiveness if you contact the company. This is not a legitimate company, seeking money and/or information in exchange for services.
There are some student loan forgiveness options available, but they are all free of charge and offered directly through the federal government. Information about these legitimate options can be found at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation.
If you have any questions about the legitimacy of an offer you receive concerning financial aid and student loans, please contact the Financial Aid Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.768.4296.
If you have a car on campus, you will have to provide for its security as well as that of its contents.
Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in front of your residence and when driving during the daylight hours.
Park in well-lit areas, and when returning to your vehicle, have your keys ready before you reach your car.
Make it a habit to check the back seat and/or cargo area of your vehicle before you get in.
Keep your purse, wallet, and other valuables out of sight. Use the trunk of your vehicle for such items.
If you feel that you are being followed, change direction and drive toward a well-lit and populated area. While on campus, you can always drive to the Public Safety office.