UMKC’s Violence Prevention and Response Program raises stalking awareness

Daisy Garcia Montoya

Are you feeling afraid because someone won’t leave you alone? Has their behavior gone from a weird attachment to something that seems like stalking?

UMKC’S Violence Prevention & Response Program (VPR) held an information table last week at the Miller Nichols Library for January Stalking Awareness Month in order to clarify questions like this.

Stalking, as defined by the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center (SPARC), is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Though being followed around is often thought of as the primary mode of stalking, initiating unwanted contact and sending gifts are tactics often used by stalkers. These actions can vary in intensity, but often tend to escalate. Nearly 7 million people are stalked every year in the United States.

“I feel like stalking is something that many of us brush under the rug, thinking it’s just paranoia,” said chemistry student Aliya Noor. 

In many instances, victims of stalking do not report the crime, as many may initially believe the behavior is either imagined or harmless.

“Stalking isn’t often seen as a crime because we don’t identify it as one as a society,” said Maya Burton, the Violence Prevention & Response Program coordinator.

Burton, who creates and coordinates trainings, events and prevention education for the program, says it’s important for students to know VPR is an on-campus resource for interpersonal violence.

“One of our main services we provide is confidential advocacy,” said Burton. The VPR often works with other campus departments to host educational events to further increase awareness and help faculty, staff and students.

“I think stalker awareness month is very necessary because some people may not even know the signs of having a stalker or recognize that they’re being stalked, and it’s important that those are recognized and students are aware,” said Spanish major Adam Sisk.

In addition to the confidential advocacy and educational events, VPR provides medical and mental health and legal advocacy to those impacted by violence.

To find out more information or to schedule an appointment with UMKC’s VPR, call (816) 235-1652.

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