Are you being stalked?
Here are some common stalking behaviors. We have learned that stalking during a relationship or after it has ended is high risk behavior and if it is occurring to you or to someone you love, safety precautions must be taken. In most states many of these behaviors are also against the anti-stalking laws. Gather evidence and make police reports!
Common Domestic Violence Stalking Acts
- Mailing cards or other cryptic messages
- Breaking windows, breaking into or vandalizing partner's home
- Taking partner's mail
- Leaving things such as flowers on doorstep or at work
- Watching partner from a distance
- Hang up calls on the telephone
- Following partner with a car
- Following partner on foot
- Hiding in bushes or other surveillance of partner's home
- Surveillance of partner at work
- Other trespassing
- Vandalizing partner's property
- Destroying property to scare or intimidate partner
- Stealing things from partner
- Breaking into partner's house or car
- Filing numerous pleadings in court case
- Filing for custody of children regardless of their needs
- Not respecting visitation limitations
- Harassing telephone calls or notes
- Violation of restraining orders
What to do if you become a Stalking Victim
If you become a victim of a stalker you must, above all, educate yourself. There are several national organizations that provide information on stalking.
Security Precautions for Stalking Victims
Stalking victims don't like to be called victims. They will say, "I won't let myself be victimized," or "I'm not going to change my life because I'm being stalked." Sorry. Your life has changed. Forever. And unless you accept that, you will actually be helping the stalker. You are a crime victim. The crime happens to be stalking. You must understand that the phrase "stalking victim" says volume about the perpetrator, but nothing about you. It does not tell us whether you stay at home in terror with sheets over the windows, or whether you've decided to move, or to become active to change the laws in your state. On the other hand, accepting that you are a stalking victim serves to remind you that you must, from now on, take extra precautions that others do no have to take.
Here are some basics to start with. These and other safety precautions can be found in I Know You Really Love Me:
- Tell the stalker "no" once and only once, and then never give him the satisfaction of a reaction again. The more you respond, the more you teach him that his actions will elicit a response. This only serves to reinforce the stalking.
- Get a dog. The Los Angeles Police Department's Threat Management Unit says this is "one of the least expensive but most effective alarm systems."
- Block your address at DMV and Voter Registration. If you don't, anyone can get it for the asking. This is how Robert Bardo found actress Rebecca Schaeffer and was able to murder her at her front door.
- Never give out your home address or telephone number. Get a post office box and use it on all correspondence. For those places that will not accept a post office box, change "PO Box" to "Apt." and leave the number. Put this address on your checks.
- When the stalker gets your home telephone number, don't change it. Instead, always let an answering machine pick-up. Get a new, unlisted number, and give it to everyone who calls but the stalker. Gradually, only your stalker will be using your old number - it will become his private line. If it upsets you when he calls, put the machine in a room you don't use. You can even have someone else monitor the tapes. This way, the stalker will think he is still getting through to you, although you will never make the mistake of picking up when he calls. Whenever you close off one avenue for a stalker, he will find another and it could easily be worse.
- Document everything. Even if you have decided not to go the legal route, you may change your mind. Keep answering machine tapes, letters, gifts, etc. Keep a log of drive-bys or any suspicious occurrences.
- Take a self-defense class. A lot of security experts don't advise this, fearing that it gives victims a false sense of security, but we do. The best self-defense classes teach you how to become more aware of your surroundings and avoid confrontations, things that stalking victims would do well to learn.
- Have co-workers screen all calls and visitors.
- Don't accept packages unless they were personally ordered.
- Remove any name or identification from reserved parking at work.
- Destroy discarded mail.
- Equip your gas tank with a locking gas cap that can be unlocked only from inside the car.
- Get a cell phone and keep it with you at all times, even inside your home, in case the stalker cuts your phone lines.
- If you think you are being followed while in your car, make four left-or right-hand turns in succession. If the car continues to follow you, drive to the nearest police station, never home or to a friend's house.
- Never be afraid to sound your car horn to attract attention.
- Acquaint yourself with all-night stores and other public, highly populated places in your area.
- Consider moving if your case warrants it. No, it's not fair, but nothing is fair about stalking. If you stay and fight through the legal system, you might get some justice, (although not necessarily your definition of it), but you almost certainly won't get safety: There is no possibility of life imprisonment for stalkers. Research how to keep your destination secret. Stalking and victims' organizations can help.
- Don't be embarrassed and think you caused this somehow. Stalkers need no encouragement. Your shame is your stalker's best weapon. It makes you more likely to engage him or agree to plea bargains, which are bound to be taken as sympathy and we know where that leads. Instead, tell everyone you know that you're being stalked, from neighbors to co-workers, so that when the stalker approaches them for information about you, they will be alerted not to divulge anything and will let you know he's been around. One young widow moved to escape her stalker, a stranger she had never really met. Yet, after finding out where she moved, he was also able to pinpoint her exact location by showing her helpful neighbors pictures he had surreptitiously taken of her and her children, telling them that he was her estranged husband and she had kidnapped the kids.
- Join one of the stalking victims' support groups that are springing up all over the country. They can be invaluable resources for information in your community (such as how local law enforcement handle these cases) as well as provide essential support. See the resources section for organizations that can help. If there is no group in your area, start one. It only takes two. Tragically, we can guarantee you are not the only person being stalked in your area.