We Can't Ignore Stalking and Domestic Violence on College Campuses

This month, Broadly's Unfollow Me series investigates domestic violence and stalking at universities across the UK.

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Apr 8 2019, 8:08am

Illustration by Calum Heath

Every year, women in the UK are killed by stalkers and domestic abusers—despite previously reporting them to the police. Unfollow Me is a campaign highlighting the under-reported issue of stalking and domestic abuse in support of anti-stalking charity Paladin's calls to introduce a Stalkers Register in the UK. Follow all of our coverage here.

Going to college for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. You’re away from friends and family—often in an unfamiliar city—adjusting to the expectations and annoyances of adult life on your own. Everything is unfamiliar, strange, and exciting.

Your university years ought to be the best of your life, but they may well be your worst if you experience intimate partner abuse and stalking. Young people are some of the most vulnerable to stalking and abuse—one 2009 study in the US found that the highest rates of harassment and stalking victimization tend to occur in people aged between 18 and 19, the age most people are when they start college.


Watch: Unfollow Me: The Story of Alice Ruggles


Over the last year, Broadly's Unfollow Me has investigated stalking and domestic abuse in support of calls from anti-stalking charity Paladin to introduce a Stalkers Register in the UK. This policy would ensure that serial offenders would be tracked and monitored by police on a database accessible to police and probation agencies. Potential high-risk victims (such as the offender’s partner) would be informed of their criminal past if deemed appropriate.

We’ve explored the impact of stalking on mental health, and investigated how many British women were killed by partners, ex-partners, and stalkers—even after reporting the harassment to police. Anyone can become a victim of stalking or domestic abuse, and, too often, the authorities fail to keep victims safe. We seek to amplify the voices of survivors and the loved ones of those who lost their lives to abuse, including the family of murder victim Alice Ruggles and the friends of Meera Dalal, a 25-year-old woman who died by suicide after struggling to escape her stalker ex.

In October of 2018, the influential Home Affairs Select Committee, which advises British lawmakers on policy, backed calls for a Stalkers Register. Our FOI data on the number of women killed by stalkers and abusive men has also been cited in Parliament at the House of Lords.

For the final part of Broadly’s Unfollow Me campaign, we're examining domestic abuse and stalking at universities across the UK. Our exclusive report using UK Freedom of Information laws reveals that 381 students were accused by fellow students of stalking and abuse between 2015 and 2018. Fifty-one percent of accused students remained at the university despite the allegations against them. (You can view all of our data on this interactive microsite to see how individual universities have fared.)

This week, we hear from the voices of those affected by student-on-student stalking, like Fiona Drouet, the mother of Aberdeen University student Emily Drouet who died by suicide after being abused by her ex-boyfriend Angus Milligan. A young stalking survivor also writes for us about the horrifying experience of being stalked on campus, and we have also produced a guide for students who are being harassed and abused on campus. We’ll be looking at the ways in which young people use online technology to stalk each other today.

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Stalking and domestic abuse aren’t going away. It affects everyone from all walks of life and on campuses and in homes and workplaces everywhere. We can all do more to help keep survivors, friends, and fellow students safe.

If you are being stalked and you are based in the UK, you can call Paladin on 020 3866 4107. If you are based in the US, you can call the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime on 855-484-2846.

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