Basic Safety Strategies
If you are being stalked, it is important to take the matter seriously as soon as you notice the stalker's behaviors. Whether you are dealing with a former lover, a colleague, an acquaintance, or a stranger, there are steps you need to take in order to protect yourself, your family, your home, and your workplace.
The following information is not intended to be a set of strict guidelines for stalking victims, but rather a collection of practical information to assist you. Implementing these strategies will reduce the odds of physical or emotional harm from the stalker.
If you are being stalked you should:
- Do your best to safely avoid all contact with the stalker.
- Inform family, friends, supervisors, and co-workers of what is going on about the stalking.
- Keep an accurate journal or log of all incidents connected to the stalking.
- Keep all evidence, i.e., letters, packages, taped telephone messages, e-mails, etc. received from the stalker.
Victims in Imminent Danger
The primary goal of a victim in imminent danger should be to locate a safe place for her/himself. Safety for stalking victims can often be found in the following places:
- Police Stations.
- Residences of family/friends (location unknown to perpetrators).
- Domestic violence shelters.
- Local churches.
- Public areas (stalkers may be less inclined toward violence or creating a disturbance).
If departure from the current location is not possible, call local law enforcement at 911.
Upon reaching safety, a victim may want to communicate with law enforcement, victim’s advocates, mental health professionals, and/or social services in order to receive additional assistance and referrals.
Victims in Danger, But Not Immediately At Risk
While the victim may not be in immediate danger, he/she needs to assess the probability of impending danger. If you determine you are at risk, in a potentially harmful or violent situation, the following options may be considered:
- Obtain a Restraining Order or Protective Order
- Document actions of the perpetrator and suspicious activities. If you are threatened by your stalker, document his or her exact words, as this may be helpful in obtaining a protective order or if you choose to press charges against your stalker
- Memorize critical telephone numbers, including one of a safe place to go
- Create an accessible reserve of clothes, money, important documents, an extra set of keys, and a full tank of gas in case you need to leave in a hurry
Suggested Safety Measures
- Be aware of any suspicious persons
- Be sure you know who is there before opening doors
- Install a porch light at a height that will discourage removal
- Keep garage doors locked at all times
- Keep fuse box locked. Have a flashlight handy inside your residence
- Inform trusted neighbors of anticipated absences and arrange for them to pick up mail and newspapers
- Central reception should handle visitors and packages
- Have a secretary or a co-worker screen calls if necessary
- Be aware of anyone possibly following you to or from work
- Inform co-workers, supervisors, and on-site security of your situation
- Park in secured area if possible
- Park vehicles in well-lit areas
- Visually check front and rear passenger seats before entering vehicle.
- Keep doors locked while vehicle is in use.
- Use a different schedule or route of travel each day.
- Be aware of vehicles that appear to be following you
Additional Safety Considerations If You Are Being Stalked
- Trust your own instincts: try to identify the cause of your feelings, fears, doubts, anxieties or suspicions.
- Avoid all contact with your stalker: use different entrances to your home or office, take different routes to work or school, and use caller ID before answering the phone
- Resist the urge to have just one more conversation with your stalker to make him/her stay away, as this will only encourage him/her
- Tell people about what is happening to you and the danger you feel
- Make the importance of keeping your phone number, address and any other personal information secret clear to others
- Make it hard to track you down:
- Obtain a post office box
- Give your address and phone number to as few people as possible
- Inform professional organizations that they are to provide no one with information about you
- Call the Social Security Office and request that Social Security numbers be changed if you can prove that the stalker is using them to find you
- Post a No Trespassing sign on the edge of your property where it is clearly visible
- Report threatening calls to the telephone company
- Use a call tracing service if available if you receive unwanted phone calls
- Report all threats sent by mail to the FBI
- If you move, don't ask the post office to forward your mail (instead, have them hold it for you)
- Take a self-defense class, you may find that you feel more empowered and self-sufficient, even if you never employ the techniques that you learn in your class