University of Southern California

Stalking

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

Residential Security

  • 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

Office Security

  • 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

Vehicle Security

  • 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