North Texas Daily

Student recounts unreported stalking at UNT

Student recounts unreported stalking at UNT

February 13
02:27 2016

Tiffany Ditto | Staff Writer

@TiffanyDitto

There weren’t any reported cases of stalking at UNT in the latest Security and Fire Safety Report, but Hannah Sullivan said she was one of an estimated 3.4 million Americans who were stalked last year, according to data found on the dean of students website.

Sullivan lived on campus and said her roommate’s friend was her stalker. She felt uncomfortable in her own dorm because the man stalking lived at the same residence hall.

“I was afraid the night everything happened,” Sullivan said. “He asked us to go to a Sonic a few minutes away, and he drove to Sanger, almost an hour away. He started talking about how he was violent as a young child and how depressed he was.”

According to the Colorado State University Women and Gender Advocacy Center, Sullivan is among 83 percent of other stalking victims who did not report the incident to the police. Instead, she turned to the university.

“My residential assistant reported [the stalking] to the main hall director,” Sullivan said. “We met with the director two days later. The director said there wasn’t enough evidence of someone stalking me, so he couldn’t do anything.”

Sullivan said after that she felt as though he was dangerous. She was fearful of what his obsession with her could result in.

“I never noticed him following me, but there was a time when he was waiting in the lobby for me,” Sullivan said. “I never caught him, he was just always around.”

Although hall director Russell Bouyer told her he couldn’t do anything, Sullivan said something had to be done. So she reached out to the dean of student’s office. Bouyer did not return a request for comment.

The dean of student’s office defines stalking as, “engaging in a course or conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.”

It is because of this definition that Sullivan was able to seek help without tangible evidence. She has since moved halls and said she feels safe.

“The [UNT] Survivors Advocate helped me get out of [there],” Sullivan said. “Everything has been good since I’ve moved.”

Officials at the Denton County Friends of the Family said this kind of reporting process is typical of stalking cases. Victims are not often aware they are being stalked until an event happens that causes them to legitimately fear the person that is stalking them.

“Stalking is so intertwined with other forms of violence that’s why it’s so hard to pinpoint,” said Stephanie Aguilar, a Denton County Friends of the Family victims advocate. “If any behavior by the stalker causes the victim to feel fear of bodily injury or some kind of harm to herself that would be considered as stalking.”

Friends of the Family recommends students get a protective order, but said many victims would rather just create a safety plan.

“We safety plan with them, that’s anything from ‘let’s take a different route to work today,’ to having a safe place where they can go stay,” Aguilar said.

Sullivan said she is now in counseling because of the event but is hopeful this semester will be better.

“I’ve learned when to talk to someone if I feel uncomfortable,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think it’s bad to worry about your safety.”

Students who feel like they are being stalked are encouraged to reach out to UNT’s survivor’s advocate, Renee LeClaire at 940-565-2648.

“I can assist a student by discussing reporting options, filing protective orders, contacting professors, facilitating room changes, and acting as their advocate,” LeClaire said in an email.  “I am here to help students.”

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