By Stephanie Garza
SAN ANTONIO—January is Stalking Awareness Month and Our Lady of the Lake’s Center for Women in Church and Society and OLLUCares hosted “Let’s Talk About Stalking” to spread awareness on the issue of stalking.
The discussion is the first of many that will take place this semester. “Let’s Talk About Consent” is scheduled to take place on March 20, from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. and “Let’s Talk About Sexual Assault,” is scheduled for April 17, from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Blue Room.
Working under the OLLUCares program is OLLU’s confidential advisor, Stephanie Sanchez. Sanchez began the discussion by giving the attendees a quiz to test their knowledge. She talked about some of the misconceptions people have about the topic and the resources on campus that are available to all OLLU members.
Sanchez said these talks are intended to give everyone who attends “a better understanding of each topic, and knowledge of resources around OLLU and within the San Antonio community to help.” Jamilah Abdul-Jabbar, a senior at OLLU and an intern at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid also took part in the discussion. Abdul-Jabbar said she attended “to learn more about what to do when we have clients who encounter issues with stalking, ways to talk to law enforcement about stalking versus harassment and just figuring out a better way to help our clients.”
The discussion also delved into the various forms of stalking that occur. One of the more common yet discreet ways would be through social media. It is important for everyone to be aware of their activity online.
“Statistics show with social media; a survivor is more likely to give their partner their password to either email or Facebook so that makes it easier for the stalker.” Sanchez said.
One of the common misconceptions that was addressed is that if you ignore a stalker he or she will go away.
“A lot of the times it is not reported because people diminish the severity of the stalking and people think that, ‘if I ignore it, if I don’t pay attention that it will just go away, they will leave me alone,’ but it actually tends to escalate.” Sanchez said.
OLLU Chief of Police Ramon Zertuche was also in attendance.
“It is a crime, and people tend to downplay this crime and say ‘hey you know kids are kids,’ it’s different with social media, the access to one’s personal privacy is that much greater than it was back then” Zertuche said. Zertuche also said that most victims do not report their stalker or any incidences of stalking, in fact, that the crime is underreported. He also encouraged students, staff, and faculty to report any incidents that they hear or see, “as members of this community, if we hear that (any instances), don’t dismiss it, report it.”
“We will work with SAPD and the Victims Crime Unit, those are all resources we have but we need to know in order to help you,” Zertuche said.
“Let’s Talk About Stalking” and all of the future events are intended to promote awareness to educate as many people as possible within the OLLU community. They will also provide information to students, faculty, and staff about the resources available to them. Resources like the OLLUCares program which provide education to the OLLU community to prevent and reduce sexual assaults, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. OLLU’s confidential advisor is another resource that “provides victims and survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking their rights and options available to them” Sanchez said.
It also comes down to safety in general, if anyone feels unsafe walking to their vehicle or to a class, the OLLU Police Department encourages the community to contact them and they can assist.