Survivor Story: Jen Porcelli

Portrait of Jen, survivor of dating violence and stalking

It was spring of her freshman year of college when Jen Porcelli began to notice her boyfriend acting strangely. He started calling her all the time, demanding to know where she had been and who she was spending time with. Jen decided to call off the relationship, although the two agreed to remain friends. Later that spring, he came to visit Jen at college and raped her.

The stalking began soon afterwards. He sent her messages online, called her parents’ house repeatedly, and would tell her about driving past her house and the different cars he saw there. When Jen returned to college, she blocked his online messages, but he began contacting her friends. After hearing second-hand that he was planning to move to her college town, Jen decided to report the assault and stalking to the police.

“I just thought I could move on and forget about the rape,” Jen said. “But when he would drive by my house or find ways to get messages to me, even through other people, I realized it would never go away.”

As was the case for Jen, stalkers are often people who are or were close with the victim. Sixty-one percent of female victims and 44% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime's Stalking Resource Center.

“[Being stalked] made it incredibly difficult to heal,” Jen said. “It caused me so much fear that I had a panic attack just from seeing him driving on the road behind me. I never felt safe—like I always had to be looking over my shoulder.”

Discovering that you are being stalked, either in person or online, can be unnerving. But there are steps you can take to get help, such as creating a safety plan
, learning how to stay safe online, and keeping records of communication with the stalker. But first and foremost, Jen recommends telling someone you trust what’s happening.

“You need to tell someone,” Jen said. “A lot of times victims will place blame on themselves. Place blame where the blame belongs. Nobody has the right to violate your privacy or to make you feel unsafe.”

Related:
Intimate Partner Sexual Violence
Using Technology to Hurt Others

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Find more information about stalking here, and at the National Center for Victims of Crime's Stalking Resource Center.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org..

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