harassment

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-12-2014
harassment
11
Tue, 08-12-2014 - 6:31pm
Hi, I’m new here and having read some of the discussions, I feel this is such a great forum. I have a question regarding harassment and how to help my daughter become more assertive. Toward the end of last year, she met a young man through a study group, and spent a bit of time studying with him along with other friends, not alone with him. He became interested in dating her, but she didn’t want to date him, and as he began to pursue her more and more, she became concerned that he’s too pushy. Over the summer, he started to text her constantly, several times a day; sent her Facebook messages constantly; sent her constant snap chats, etc. She told him repeatedly that she is very busy – she is working long hours every day, is doing a lot of volunteering and is busy studying as well. But most importantly, she simply does not like this guy! But she has a very tough time saying no when asked out by someone she doesn’t like, and instead, she has gotten into a habit of saying yes, only to cancel closer to the date. Unfortunately, this guy figured that out about her and showed up exactly on her doorstep for a date, and, unable to get out of it, she agreed to go out to a gallery with him. She paid for herself, but afterward, he insisted on paying for her, and she very reluctantly accepted! After that, he continued his constant communication with her, until she blocked his texts. He got very upset, but she explained that she’s just too busy. So he agreed that since she’s so busy, he’d wait until August when she would be less busy. Come August, he immediately resumed his constant communicating with her, demanding to know her schedule, her courses, etc. She is feeling really, really harassed by this guy, but doesn’t know how to handle it. After ignoring his constant messages, she finally responded on Facebook by telling him “You’re bothering me. I don’t want to talk to you. Stop”. He responded by saying he just really, really wants to talk to her. So she un-friended him on FB and blocked his calls and texts. I’m worried, now, if this guy can get crazy … I really don’t know what to advise her. She wants him to leave her alone, but doesn’t know how to make him. What would you advise? He will likely be in some of the same classes, and they are both going into third year.

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Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Tue, 08-12-2014 - 7:29pm

Hi swimmom, welcome to the board. Sorry to hear that your dd is being harassed by this guy. Is she open to taking suggestions from you?

I'm seeing 2 issues which can overlap, the lack of assertiveness and the constant contact from the guy which does seem to have become harassment and/or stalking. Its good that she's getting more assertive with blocking him and then telling him to leave her alone. She should save the texts, emails, etc from him for documentation of his frequent unwanted communications. Does she still have them from the past?

The U should be able to help her with the harassment. They probably have an "Office of Prevention of Harassment and Abuse" of some sort (her school may call it something else) and she could start by contacting them for advice on how to proceed. The student code of conduct probably deals with the behavior you described so if he breaks the rules of conduct the school should deal with him. I would suggest that she try contacting that department now and explain the situation so she has things in motion when the term begins, in case he approaches her on campus. She should also contact the campus police and ask what they suggest.

For the assertiveness issue, I wonder if her school has a women's center? Once upon a time, when I was that age, there were informal classes in assertiveness training for women....possibly they are still offered and the campus women's groups could probably direct her to whatever exists.

Hopefully some of our other members will have more suggestions for you.

I'm glad that you found the board.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-12-2014
Tue, 08-12-2014 - 7:56pm

Thanks Elc11 for your suggestions. DD is sometimes open to suggestions from me, but not always.

I think your advice of some assertiveness support is really good, and she said she will look into doing that for herself. I know she would benefit. She unfortunately deleted all past communication, but now she will keep everything. I really hope he gets the message and leaves her alone. If necessary, she will have to report him, but I hope it doesn't come to that. Hopefully, her wording was effective.

Thanks again.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Tue, 08-12-2014 - 9:07pm

If your timeline is correct, this has been going on for close to a year.  This is stalking.  Even tho your daughter's lack of assertivness may have led the guy to think there is some return of his feelings, his feelings are still unnatural and obsessive.  Your dd needs to contact the police, because at this point, the guy may NOT accept rejection complacently.   She needs to seek a restraining order, and have a plan for what to do if he becomes physical.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-12-2014
Tue, 08-12-2014 - 10:33pm

You're right, Sabrtooth, this is definitely stalking. The combination of his obsessive tendency and her lack of assertiveness definitely created a problem, and I'm going to keep a very close eye on things. We'll see how he handles the rejection, but I agree that it may not be well. She's hesitant to get the police involved, but I will urge her to if he communicates with her again. Thanks for your response.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
In reply to: suzyk2118
Wed, 08-13-2014 - 9:36am

Maybe start with campus police/security and then elevate to local police if necessary? She might be more comfortable with that idea.  Best of luck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 08-13-2014 - 11:10am

I agree with what the others have said.  I do think that your DD has to learn (maybe practice with you) how to say no to a guy and be clear about it--she can realize that it's possible to do that in a nice way at first and that it's actually a lot nicer than saying yes and then canceling dates at the last minute or just saying she is busy when she really doesn't want to date him ever, ever.  Now I know that most guys will realize that if a girl says she is busy a few times, then he should get the hint, but I just think it's better to be clear.  The old "I just like you as a friend" kind of thing.  Now he is in the position of being able to say, if anyone contacts him from campus, that he did nothing wrong because he was only trying to get a date with her---and she never said no! So at this point I don't know how much anyone is going to do about him, but it's still good to bring it to the attention of the school (and probably her RA or the head of her dorm) at the beginning of the year, so they will be alert.

I looked up my state's laws (MA) on stalking/harrassment just to see what they say.  I know  she could not get a RO in MA because you have to have a "reasonable fear of physical harm" and from what you said, so far, he has been friendly.  For an anti-harrassment order, he also has to have the "intent to cause fear."  Even though she might actually be afraid, it seems like that might be very difficult to prove, just by the fact that he sent her a lot of texts--I mean, don't friends do that?  

The criminal law on stalking defines it as " (a) Whoever (1) willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress,"

There is also a criminal law against making annoying telephone calls which now includes "electronic communication."  I would suggest doing a search on the laws of your state to see what is out there.  But she needs to be really clear that she does not want any further contact from him and put it in writing--maybe even an old fashioned letter, if he doesn't stop.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-12-2014
Wed, 08-13-2014 - 4:40pm

Thank you for your responses. I agree that it would be difficult to charge this guy with harassment, and at any rate, I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt his future. After all, DD never did say a firm NO, so he chose to interpret at will. I am concerned, though, because he had been monitoring her location through Facebook and maybe also through her phone, so I think she needs to change her number even though she has blocked him. I also agree that if he attempts to contact her again, she needs to give him a written note - through his dorm or student services or something like that. Great suggestions, thank you again.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2003
Thu, 08-14-2014 - 2:27pm

Hi Swimmom.  Welcome to the board!

I think the advice for your daughter to learn to get more assertive is a good and will help her with future unwanted attention from people.  Definitely blocking him from her social media and blocking his phone number are good starts, as well as changing her privacy settings.  Changing and limiting that stuff can be a hassle and a little limiting but it is safer.  If he continues to get through to her and be around her, then she should get to campus police and the Student Support Services as soon as possible. Sometimes SSS has ways of doing things that parents and students don't know about.  Hope this gets resolved soon.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-12-2014
Thu, 08-14-2014 - 6:35pm

Thank you, Gamegaga. Yes, it's a really good idea for DD (and everyone, really) to learn to be assertive. She will often be accosted on the street, cornered by grown men asking her for a date, and rather than "risk" being rude, she will respond, and decline politely.

The good news is that she and a group of her friends have all decided to enrol in an assertiveness program offered through student services, and I think everyone will benefit. It's a great workshop. She also just started attending, again with friends, fitness classes specifically meant to teach self-defense strategies. So things are moving in the right direction. Thank you for the welcome.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
In reply to: arryl
Fri, 08-15-2014 - 10:24am

Just out of curiosity, is she going to school in a large metropolitan area? I can't say, in all my years, while I have been approached once or twice, I have never been followed, let alone cornered or accosted. Even when I went to the Downtown Detroit campus for some classes, so I am slightly interested in where or what type of area this could be happening in.

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