She calls him Xavier, but that’s not his real name. They met at 15 and became fast friends, and in less than three years, they were engaged. She says he was funny, caring and unlike most guys, he was quick to talk about his feelings. But that changed when she left for university.
“Although I had planned on moving to university on my own, he insisted that he couldn't live without me and soon moved in with me and my two roommates,” she recalls. “He became more and more controlling and demanded to know where I was at all times. He read my diaries and put monitoring software on my computer. Then, it became much worse.”
So much worse, in fact, that for more than 10 years Julie was stalked by Xavier.
How to watch for relationship red flags
Jealousy, coercion, emotional abuse and stalking are clearly signs of unhealthy relationships, but they’re not always easy to see. The Red Flag Campaign, on campus between February 11 and 15, is an international initiative to address dating violence.
Roxanne Runyan, MacEwan University’s sexual violence prevention and education coordinator, says that stalking has the effect of completely disrupting a person’s life and shattering their sense of safety. “People who are being stalked experience a constant state of anxiety and fear. The steps that victims take to try to keep themselves safe, such as moving or changing jobs, have significant economic impacts.”
Roxanne adds that stalking behaviours are normalized in the movies, specifically 1990s romantic comedies. “This leads to a cultural context where we tell victims that they are overreacting, which in itself creates additional feelings of isolation and self-blame.”
"What’s Love Got to Do With It": The Impact of Stalking is free and open to the public.
This event is part of MacEwan University’s commitment to ending sexual violence. Learn more about the part we all have to play in creating a healthy campus at MacEwan.ca/SexualViolence.
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.