A stalker is not always an unknown person lurking in the shadows. In fact, on college campuses the stalker is often not a stranger at all. Four out of five campus victims know their attacker. These perpetrators have an intimate relationship or close friendship; they may be classmates, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, or related to their victims.
What can YOU do if you are being stalked?
• Contact NOVA Sexual Assault services for free confidential help from trained advocates.
• Tell the important people in your life what is happening.
• Reach out to your campus conduct office.
• Make a plan. Consider changing your routine and travel with another person.
• Keep a record of all harassing messages, take screen shots and print-outs for evidence.
• Call NOVA Police, where you can file a report and receive legal assistance.
If you or someone you know is being stalked, contact a 24 hour NOVA Sexual Assault Services Coordinator for free confidential support. Please call or text 703.338.0834 or email NOVA.SAS@nvcc.edu. For more information and resources about stalking, please visit http://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/sas/stalking.html
Tip of the Week: Cyberstalking
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn: so much of our everyday life is viral! Checking and updating our accounts daily has become a normal routine, like brushing our teeth. However, we often forget the dangers that come with our social media followers. When hitting “post” we can forget the dangers of cyberstalking. Your stalker may be a stranger or someone who has an active role in your life. Along with electronic stalking and harassment, cyberstalking can also include identity theft, soliciting for sex, slander, or gathering your personal information to threaten, blackmail, or embarrass you. Cyberstalking is dangerous and can quickly escalate. Many of us have been affected or personally know someone who has. Check out the following tips to keeping yourself safe:
- Block any and all suspicious users
- Do not add or accept users that you do not know
- Do not respond to private messages to anyone you don’t know
- When posting, do not share specifics about your location.
- Do not share your last name, phone number, or email on online dating sites until you have met in person.
For additional resources visit:
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)! Each business day in October, we send out a “DVAM: Did You Know?” highlighting interesting research findings and statistics or best practices in preventing and responding to domestic violence. Please share with your friends, family members, community groups, and colleagues.
October 1, 2015: Look Again at Domestic Violence in Fairfax County
Did You Know?
Did you know that every day in Fairfax County we respond to two people who are at high risk for homicide or serious physical injury at the hands of the person they love?
The Fairfax County Police Department has teamed up with the Fairfax County Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Artemis House (Shelter House, Inc.), Bethany House of Northern Virginia, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the Victim Services Section of the FCPD to better predict and, ultimately, prevent serious injury and homicide from happening.
On July 1, 2015, those agencies started the Lethality Assessment Program. In the first two months of the program, over half (54%) of all domestic violence cases screened by FCPD were high-danger.
Of those cases, victims reported serious lethality risks, such as:
1. 33% reported the presence of a firearm in the home (or easy access to one)
The presence of a firearm makes it 5 times more like domestic violence will turn into murder.*
2. 55% reported stalking victimization (the offender following or spying on them or leaving threatening messages)
Nationally, 76% of femicide victims were stalked prior to their murder.
3. 64% reported a history of strangulation (often referred to as ‘choking’)
Strangulation is a serious crime that often leaves no visible injuries, even though it can create temporary or permanent brain damage in as little as 30 seconds.
A victim of domestic violence with a history of strangulation has a 800% increased risk of homicide.
*J. C. Campbell, D; Webster, J; Koziol-McLain, C. R; et al. 2003. Risk Factors For Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From A Multi-Site Case Control Study. American Journal of Public Health. 93(7). Accessed from: http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Children_and_Families/Guns.pdf
** Judith McFarlane et al., “Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide,” Homicide Studies 3, no. 4 (1999).] More at: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/src/stalking-fact-sheet_english.pdf
*** Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Daniel Webster, Jane Koziol-McLain, et al. “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study.” American Journal of Public Health, Volume 93, No. 7 (July 2003) 1089-1097. A study of 300 cases of strangulation survivors conducted by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office revealed that in 50% of the cases there were no visible markings to the neck and 35 % had only minor injuries (Strack, McClane & Hawley, 2001).
What can we do?
Let’s change those statistics! Educating ourselves and our community members is a good first start:
o Join us for a media event today at 1:30pm at the Historic Courthouse: https://fcpdnews.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/preventing-domestic-violence-homicide/!
o Use social media to spread the word! Post or tweet responsible media articles (like any on the LAP press release above) on the subject or simple facts about the issue. Find sample posts and tweets like these each day in the DVAM Did you Know? this month:
o DVAM: Did you know that #domesticviolence is a leading cause of homicide in Fairfax County? DV-related homicides are predictable and preventable. Please help spread the word that services and support are available. For help, call Fairfax County’s 24-hour Hotline: 703-360-7273.
o DYK #DomesticViolence is a leading cause of homicide in #FairfaxCounty? Help is available: 703-360-7273 (24 HR) #DVAM2015 #LookAgain http://bit.ly/ffxdv
o Start a conversation! Everyone can speak out against domestic violence. You may be the safest person for a family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker to talk to. Check out these tips:
o What to say when you think someone is being abused
o What to say if you suspect someone is using abusive behavior
Sandy Bromley, JD
Fairfax County-Wide Domestic Violence Coordinator
Office: (703) 324-9494 Cell: (571) 215-2429
Community Events & Resources: www.fairfaxdvcommunity.org
Fairfax County Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC)
Information & Intake Line: (703) 246-4573
Fairfax County Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services
24-hour Hotline: (703) 360-7273
Northern Virginia Community College
Victims’ Rights Provisions – 2014
Sexual misconduct is not tolerated at Northern Virginia Community College. Reports of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, or stalking are taken seriously. It is important to NOVA that victims (complainants) are informed, protected, and respected. The complete Northern Virginia Community College Sexual Misconduct Policy is available online at www.nvcc.edu. More information about the College’s responsibilities under Title IX to address complaints of sexual violence can be found online.
The following rights are afforded to any NOVA student, staff, or faculty member who experiences such an incident. It is NOVA’s hope that these rights will provide you with adequate information from which to choose your options.
- CONFIDENTIALITY. Above all, confidentiality of victims must be protected. Identifying information of a victim will be protected as much as possible. This means that a victim’s name will not be published or otherwise publicized without her/his permission. When a person makes an official complaint to authorities, all possible protections will be afforded this individual, whether or not she/he participates in any investigation. When the College needs to act to protect the safety of others, absolute confidentiality may not be possible. For absolute confidentiality, contact NOVA Sexual Assault Services (see below for contact information).
TIMELY WARNINGS. Any timely warning that is broadcast through NOVA websites or emails for the safety of our community will not identify a victim by name.
- REPORTING OPTIONS. It is your choice whether or not you decide to report your victimization. At NOVA, there are several offices to report an incident if you choose to do so. See list below.College Police – 703-764-5000To report the incident and begin a criminal investigation
Local Police Department – 911
To report the incident and begin a criminal investigation with minimal college involvement
Campus Dean of Students – Contact the Dean Of Students at your own campus or center
To report the incident and begin a Student Code of Conduct investigation
Human Resources – 703-323-3110
To report the incident and begin a staff or faculty investigation
Sexual Assault Services – firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.338.0834 24 hour availability
***To access confidential support, advocacy and intervention for those affected by these issues
Title IX Coordinator – Mr. Therman Coles – 703-323-3266
To report the incident and begin an administrative Title IX investigation
- NO CONTACT or PROTECTIVE ORDERS. The College will honor any protective order that you may have acquired through the local courts. Please bring a copy of such a court order to the College Police for their information and enforcement. In addition, a NOVA administrative no contact order may be created by the Dean of Students or Title IX Coordinator once the incident is reported to that office.
- PRESERVING PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. If you are considering a criminal prosecution, it is extremely important to preserve all evidence of an assault. If you go to a hospital as a result of a penetrating sexual assault, you are entitled to a free evidence collection examination called a SANE exam. SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. In Northern Virginia, the preferred hospital for such an exam is INOVA Fairfax, where they have specially trained nurses on call 24 hours a day for such purposes. INOVA Fairfax Hospital provides care to sexual assault victims no matter where in Northern Virginia the crime occurred. The nurse will collect the evidence and ask the police in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred to pick it up and store it for at least six months. The evidence will be in a box marked only with a number, not your name. You are not required to make an official police report for this evidence to be collected. If you later decide to make such a report, the hospital will give your name to the police and the evidence kit will be tested for possible use in a court case. For more information about how to preserve evidence, contact NOVA Police at 703.764.5000 or NOVA Sexual Assault Services at 703.338.0834.
- STUDENT CONDUCT PROCESS. If you are a student and your perpetrator was also a student, then you may choose to report the incident (as the complainant) to your Dean of Students to begin a conduct process. This is not a court trial; you may or may not choose to contact the police to use this process. A hearing will be held on campus to determine whether the perpetrator is responsible for the act that you have reported. Sanctions for this process are confined to the College only and range from probation to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident. For more details, see the current NOVA Code of Student Conduct within the NOVA Student Handbook, accessed online or in hardback copy.
- HUMAN RESOURCES PROCESS. If you are an employee, then you may choose to report the incident to NOVA Human Resources, specifically to the Director of Human Resources, Employee Relations Specialist or the designated HR Campus Consultant. Additionally, you may also choose to contact College Police to use this process or to begin a criminal investigation.
- REQUESTS FOR CHANGES. You may request a change in academic setting (class or campus) or work assignment in order to be more clearly separated from the accused perpetrator. Such a request will be granted to the greatest extent possible. These requests should be made to the Campus Dean of Students or Title IX Coordinator (if you are a student) or the Director of Human Resources or Title IX Coordinator (if you are an employee). Requested changes will be made as soon as alternative arrangements can reasonably be made and regardless of whether you choose to pursue an investigation into your incident..
- FAIR AND IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION AND RESOLUTION. You can expect a fair and just process as your complaint is handled, either through the Dean of Students, Human Resources, or Title IX Coordinator. You can obtain more information about these processes by accessing the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook or Classified Staff Handbook, which can all be found online at www.nvcc.edu.
- RETALIATION CONCERNS. Threats, intimidation, and any form of retaliation for bringing a complaint of sexual misconduct are prohibited by the Sexual Misconduct Policy as well as Federal law and may be grounds for disciplinary action. If any retaliation occurs, it is important to contact either the Campus Dean of Students, the College Police, the Title IX Coordinator, and/or Human Resources.
- COMMUNITY RESOURCES. Since NOVA does not offer mental health counseling to students or employees, it is important to be aware of community resources that are both free and confidential. All offer 24 hour services. It is best to choose the service listed below that is closest either to your home or your campus. Every student or employee can use NOVA SAS, however, no matter where you live, work, or study.
NOVA CC- Sexual Assault Services (SAS)– email@example.com or 703.338.0834
ALEXANDRIA – Sexual Assault Center – 703.683.7273
FAIRFAX COUNTY – Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS) – 703.360.7273
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY – Sexual Assault Victims’ Advocacy Services (SAVAS) – 703.368.4141
LOUDOUN COUNTY – Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS) – 703.777.6652
In an emergency, call 911. Consider reporting any of these crimes to the police.
NOVA Police can be reached at 703.764.5000.
October 8, 2013: Teen Dating Violence – Cyber Abuse
Did You Know?
Did you know that more than a quarter (26%) of youth in a relationship said they experienced some form of cyber dating abuse victimization in the prior year?
· Nearly a fifth (18 percent) of all youth experienced cyber dating abuse.
· Youth experienced cyber dating abuse at a rate that was comparable to that of physical dating violence, about half that of psychological dating abuse, and twice that of sexual coercion.
· Females were twice as likely as males to report being a victim of sexual cyber dating abuse and/or sexual coercion in the prior year.
· Male youth, on the other hand, reported significantly higher rates of all forms of physical dating violence victimization.
· LGBTQ youth are particularly vulnerable to all types of teen dating violence/abuse and bullying, including cyber dating abuse and cyber bullying.
· Few victims of any teen dating violence or abuse sought help after such experiences. Less than one out of ten victims reported seeking help, with half as many male victims as female victims seeking help.
* Technology, Teen Dating Violence and Abuse, and Bullying: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/243296.pdf
What can we do?
The following suggestions were given by the researchers:
ü Community Awareness
§ Raise awareness in the community & the schools about the harmfulness of perpetrating such acts and educate victims about the importance of reporting and seeking help. These activities should include all members of the school and community, including principals, teachers, and peer leaders.
§ Schools can refer youth to programs and online resources, such as online forums for safely airing grievances and resolving disputes (see http://www.thatsnotcool.com/CalloutCards.aspx).
§ Because victims of teen dating violence and abuse and bullying victims are more likely to go to friends for help or advice, schools might consider creating peer-led groups to build awareness around the issues and create a comfort-level for victims to report.
§ In addition, since this research found that many help-seeking victims also reach out to their parents, it may be valuable for schools to help parents form support networks for each other, so that parents of victimized or vulnerable youth can share advice and resources regarding preventative measures. Likewise, schools could hold seminars and workshops for parents on how to identify and report when their child is being bullied or being abused via technology, and on how to help them cope with and address the issue.
ü Targeted Outreach
§ Given the finding that so few youth victims of teen dating violence and abuse and bullying seek help, schools might create more formalized reporting mechanisms to ensure that such violence and abuse is being addressed effectively and promptly for both males and females. In particular, since less than half of male victims seek help, specific outreach efforts to male victims might be appropriate so that they can receive any needed assistance.
ü Professional Education
§ Because so much of teens’ dating violence and abuse and bullying experiences occur at school, faculty and staff should be trained on how to identify signs of both types of acts and how to handle such incidences (e.g., when to report, to whom to report, how to report).
Sandy Bromley writes: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)! Each business day in October, we will send out a “DVAM: Did You Know?” highlighting interesting research findings and statistics or best practices in preventing and responding to domestic violence. Please pass along this information to your colleagues, community groups, friends, and family members. Speak out to end domestic violence in Fairfax County!
The Trauma of Sexual Assault
Written by: Connie J. Kirkland, MA, NCC, CTS
Director, Student Mental Health and Behavior
Many cases of sexual assault have been in the national news in the past few weeks. Even the White House has commented on the disturbingly high numbers of these incidents. Sadly, this problem also exists on campuses, affecting women most notably, but also men.
Imagine how difficult it might be to continue attending classes if one’s offender is on the same campus. Imagine how lonely a victim might feel not knowing where to go for information and understanding.
Any sexual act that lacks consent from both of the parties involved is a sexual assault. Sexual acts that occur when the individual is unconscious or otherwise unable to give his/her consent, possi-bly due to the use of alcohol or drugs, are sexual assaults and can be prosecuted.
The type of sexual assault we most often hear about is rape. Rape is defined as forced sexual intercourse between any two individuals. Forced oral or anal sodomy, between a man and a woman or two of the same sex are equal to rape in the eyes of the law. They are all felonies and a convicted of-fender could receive a lengthy prison sentence. There are also lesser forms of sexual assaults in legal terms, such as indecent exposure and touching of a sexual nature without any penetration. These crimes are misdemeanors and a convicted offender can also receive a fine and/or a jail sentence. Sexual assaults are also against the NOVA Code of Conduct because they are unethical and immoral.
We can lower the number of sexual assaults if we take a moment to intervene when we see a hostile environment being created. By becoming an active bystander and recognizing when someone is exerting unwanted power over another, when one is unable to give a clear, sober consent to sex, and by speaking up when in such a situation, we can make the difference in a potential victim’s life. The consequences of sexual assault are very serious. Immediate concerns of physical injury, pregnancy, and STIs are obvious concerns. Resulting emotional damage may be equally as serious, leading to social and personal concerns, as well as lower academic performance.
There are simple steps we can take to help victims of sexual assault. First, and foremost, “Believe the Victim.” Unless we are police or conduct administrators, our role is not to investigate or to be fact-finders. Rather, it is to say in effect “I believe you and I am so sorry this happened to you.” Additionally, tell the victim “I know a person you can call to help you” and advise them to contact NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS), at 703.338.0834, and/or the police, at 703.764.5000.
It is important for a sexual assault victim to report this crime and talk about it with someone who understands and who can assist the victim in getting needed legal and emotional assistance. NOVA SAS supports such victims. The SAS advocate can provide information on the issues of sexual assault dating/partner violence and stalking to members of the NOVA community. The advocate can explain the options a person has, either through the police/court process or the student conduct process. If a person only wants to talk through his or her feelings and perhaps get a referral to an off-campus therapist, the SAS advocate can facilitate that as well.
All NOVA SAS services are free and confidential. The advocate can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at her 24-hour cell phone: 703.338.0834.
For more information about this topic, contact Connie Kirkland, Director, Student Mental Health and Behavior (SMHB), at 703.323.2136. SMHB manages the NOVA SAS program.