‘He called me 200 times a day’: These girls reported their stalkers to their university and nothing happened
‘He told me he masturbated to my Facebook photos and waited outside my room while I slept’
"My uni housemate was doing weird stuff like waiting outside my room and making suggestive comments. At first I thought he was being overly friendly to try and make friends but then it quickly escalated.
“I knew I wanted to get out of my toxic relationship before I went on my year abroad but my boyfriend wasn’t happy with that idea. We did break up but he wouldn't leave me alone. He bombarded me with texts and up to 200 calls a day. He messaged people I was going on dates with telling them lies about me to put them off.”
Josie* and Beth* were both victims of stalking and harassment during their time at university. In both situations, the offender was also a university student.
This was the case in both of the above situations. In Josie's instance, Durham University were considering letting her stalker move back into the same house as her. In the case of Beth, her report was not taken seriously because she studied at a different uni to her stalker.
We spoke to the girls about their experiences and the way the respective universities helped them and dealt with the situations. Both names have been changed to protect their identity.
Josie had always want to study at Durham University and was excited to study her Masters in English Literature there. She moved into college accommodation where she was placed in a house with nine other students. One of these was Charlie*.
Josie noticed that Charlie was starting to be overly friendly with her. She initially thought this was him trying to make new friends but it quickly got out of hand and Josie began to feel uncomfortable. She told The Tab: "He would make suggestive remarks but at first I didn't really think much of it, but it escalated quite rapidly".
He started waiting outside Josie’s room when she was asleep and told her that he had masturbated over her Facebook photos. Josie recalls one time Charlie went into her room when she was out and stuck white circles over her boyfriend's face in pictures she had up on her wall.
The harassment also became physical. If they were sat in a social area together, Charlie would intrude her space and feel her legs, even when she had asked him to stop doing so. He would make it difficult for Josie to leave rooms and stand blocking the entrance, even when she asked him to move. Josie also told us: "There were many occasions where he would try and go through my phone."
Josie had spoken to Charlie a number of times about the way he was acting. She also wrote to tell him he was making her feel uncomfortable and to make it clear she had no interest in him.
Josie went to her college to report his behaviour, but when Charlie became aware of this he went to the police. He suggested that Josie was going to make false claims against him. This prompted the police to begin an investigation into the situation. They stated that it was a case of harassment.
"My tutor was very quick to make me feel as though I'd done something wrong"
In November, Josie approached a senior tutor at her college to report Charlie's actions, as suggested by the police.
Josie told The Tab she was shocked and upset with the response that she received. She said: "The tutor was very quick to make me feel as though I'd done something wrong. He said it couldn't be that serious because I was still friends with him on Facebook. He was also unconvinced that I had never had any kind of romantic or sexual relationship with him."
When Josie began to get upset, the tutor left the room with no explanation and didn't return.
Only after prompting from the police, Charlie moved out of their shared student accommodation but Josie was told by the tutor that "nothing was ever guaranteed to be permanent", when she asked for more details.
A few months after Charlie moved out of the house, Josie and her friends were called to meeting, informing them that they were considering letting Charlie move back in. Josie said: "Everyone gave various reasons that they didn't want Charlie to return as a resident."
Josie felt let down by Durham University, in particular the senior tutor who was essentially responsible for her pastoral care. "The thing I'm most angry about is the senior tutor's response, it wasn't just unsympathetic or unkind it was also just that it didn't follow any policy", she said. "I had to push him to just follow the guidelines set out by the university."
Beth had enjoyed her first year at Sussex University. She had made loads of friends and was loving her course. Towards the end of the year, she met a University of Portsmouth fresher, Josh* through a friend and began dating him.
Things were going well at first, but as the relationship progressed the relationship started to turn a sour.
Beth was excitedly planning her year abroad and knew she wanted to start this new chapter single. Beth tried to break things off from Josh on multiple occasions, but he wasn't happy and their relationship took a turn.
Josh started obsessively contacting Beth, calling and texting hundreds of times a day. The messages would range from positive and endearing like "you’re the best thing that has ever happened to me, I love you so much", to toxic ones like, "I’m going to kill myself, I hate you so much". Josh would sometimes call Beth 200 times a day.
Josh hacked into Beth's social media accounts so he could monitor who she was speaking to. He messaged people that Beth had planned to go on dates with to warn them off. On one occasion telling them “Beth has AIDS”. Josh also posted revenge porn of Beth during this time.
After six months of trying to ignore him and deal with the harassment alone, Beth filed a report against Josh to his university.
"The university told me there was nothing they could do"
During her year abroad Beth spoke to the local police about the harassment and they advised her to contact his university. "The police said that the university had a responsibility to act. They said that he's one of their students and is representing them. If he's committing all of these crimes, whether I was also a student there or not didn't matter, and that they should do something", Beth told The Tab.
She called University of Portsmouth's Student Wellbeing Service and although they were somewhat sympathetic as she cried down the phone to them, they said there was nothing they could do. Because Beth wasn't one of their students, the report could not be accepted.
They added Josh was in his final year about to graduate, so it was too late for them to do anything. "They told me that they couldn't stop him from graduating and as there were only a few months left before then", Beth said. "There was very little they could do."
When Beth asked the university if they could contact Josh to speak to him or provide him with some counselling, they again denied the request. Josh was never spoken to.
Eventually the police arrested Josh and ordered him to attend a rehabilitation sessions and told him to make no attempt to contact Beth. He still completed his time at university and graduated from Portsmouth last summer.
Durham University's response
Revd Professor David Wilkinson, Principal of St John’s College, Durham University, said: "We want all our staff and students to feel safe, welcome, respected and valued members of our community. We are committed to eliminating sexual violence and misconduct from within our community and to ensuring victim-survivors get the support they need to report allegations, rebuild their lives, and stay safe.
"This case was investigated under the College’s Respect at Work and Study Policy. For reasons of confidentiality, we are unable to give any further details.
"The incident pre-dates the introduction of the University’s new Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy and Procedure, for the 2017/18 academic year. This applies to St John’s College and its definition of sexual violence and misconduct includes repeatedly following another person without good reason. The Policy and Procedure is available on the University website.
"In addition, our students have access to the University’s Counselling Services and key College staff are trained on how to respond to disclosures of sexual violence and misconduct and support our students."
University of Portsmouth's response
The Tab contacted Portsmouth University for comment but are yet to receive a response.
If you need to speak to someone about what you feel to be an incident of stalking, contact the national stalking helpline on 0808 20802 200300.