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HU Marks Stalking Awareness Month With Outreach

1/22/2014

Las Vegas, N.M. – Highlands University’s Campus Violence Prevention Program is marking National Stalking Awareness Month in January by education outreach to students through social media, a poster campaign, a workshop, and more.

A campuswide scavenger hunt Jan. 28 from 1 – 5 p.m. is aimed at raising awareness about stalking as well as highlighting key locations for reporting stalking, such as the campus police and the CVPP office.

The scavenger hunt begins at the university bookstore in the Student Union Building at the northwest corner of National Avenue and 8th Street. The bookstore is helping sponsor the event and is donating the prizes, which include Highlands University apparel and more.

The CVPP staff is also presenting a workshop titled Pop Culture and Stalking Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building, Room 322. The focus will be on stalking messages in movies and music.

The public is welcome for both events.

“Stalking behaviors are often not well understood or taken seriously enough,” said Kimberly Valdez-Blea, CVPP director. “Stalking is defined as a pattern of unwanted behavior that causes fear in an individual. It is often not reported.”

Stalking is a crime under the laws of all 50 states and can take many forms. Some examples include:

  • Being followed or having someone wait for you at your home, class, or workplace.
  • Receiving unwanted gifts.
  • Persistent anonymous or known phone calls, text messages, emails or letters.
  • Being tracked.
  • Cyberstalking, including social media sites.
  • Unknowingly having a GPS system placed on your vehicle or a ghost app placed on your phone.
  • Having someone go through your garbage, locker, office, etc.
  • Your friends or family being contacted to give your whereabouts, or leaving messages for you with them.
  • Having a weapon displayed to you in an effort to persuade you or intimidate/harm you.
  • Receiving threats in any form.

“When we are proactive in providing support, we have the potential to prevent emotional distress, physical injury, and even death,” said Corilia Ortega, advocacy and education coordinator for CVPP. “The intense fear people feel when they’re stalked is related to not knowing what your stalker is capable of doing.”

Ortega said there’s a common myth that if you ignore stalking, it will go away.

“The research shows that stalking usually doesn’t just go away and instead escalates,” Ortega said. “There’s a correlation between domestic violence and stalking. Eighty-nine percent of femicide victims who were physically assaulted by a partner were also stalked.” 

Valdez-Blea and Ortega said it’s important to document stalking episodes.

“It’s also important to know your rights and get the help you need – that’s what we’re here for,” Valdez-Blea said.

The CVPP is also using an original poster campaign called Draw the Line to raise awareness about stalking. Las Vegas native and media arts senior Xena Montoya designed a striking series of four posters that spotlight elements of stalking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stalking affects approximately 6.6 million people per year in the United States. Females are nearly three times more likely than males to be stalked. College students are more likely to be stalked than the general population.

“By and large, New Mexico Highlands University is a very safe campus,” said Fidel Trujillo, dean of students. “One reason is because of the proactive work our Campus Violence Prevention Program does in terms of awareness, activities, and training provided to the campus community on important issues such as stalking and domestic violence.”

The Campus Violence Prevention Program can be reached at 505-454-3445 or preventviolence@nmhu.edu CVPP is on Facebook at No Violence HU.  More stalking prevention resources are also online at www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org



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