Safety Tips

As a stalking victim, one of the most important things for you to remember is you neither wanted this, asked for it, nor do you deserve this.

Listed below are basic steps that you can follow, to help ensure your safety, but it does entail changing your normal day to day routines and your way of life, as you once knew it. You have no choice at this point. The stalker won't change so it's up to you. Is it fair? NO, but it's your safety and your life that we're talking about, so you are the one who has to make the change.

Anti-stalking experts say there is no single course of action that will end the harassment or stalking, or the possible danger to a victim. Following are basic safety tips from stalking victims, prosecutors, anti-stalking organizations and police.

First and foremost, have no contact with your stalker.

As a stalking victim, you're frustrated, you're angry, and you're in fear for your life. How often have you wanted to scream into the phone after receiving a harassing call or confront the stalker and demand that he leave you alone? You may want a friend or relative to tell the stalker to stop bothering you. DON'T DO IT. The stalker feeds on your attention and anyone close to you. He/she doesn't hear you screaming "leave me alone." If you do this, the stalker knows you're once again paying attention to him/her, whether it's direct contact with you or through a third party. That's what a stalker wants - attention, and that can be dangerous. Only police should contact or confront the stalker.

Safety Tips At Home 

Tell your family, friends and neighbors that you are being stalked.

Show them a picture of the stalker and tell them the make, model and license number of the stalker's vehicle(s). Many victims have made up flyers to leave with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. The more people watching, the more people who can warn you about your stalker and, if necessary, testify against the stalker in court. Many times neighbors have spotted stalkers around the victim's home while they're away. If you have a restraining order, leave a copy with your neighbors in the event they call the police during your absence.

If you live in an apartment complex, notify the manager immediately.

Give the same information as above. In addition, if anyone comes to your complex to inquire about you, request that they get a description and under no circumstance give out any information about you. Have the manger request an ID from the person. Request that they verify with you of any unexpected repairs or deliveries (i.e. cable, TV repair, phone repair, appliances, etc.). Although all managers say that they can't and won't give out any information, many do without realizing it. Stalkers can be very charming, persuasive, and intimidating. Over and over stalkers have impersonated repairman, delivery drivers, and law enforcement officers to gain access to victim's apartments.

Change your routine.

Don't jog, bike or walk the same route or at the same time each day. Don't shop at the same stores. If possible, have someone join you on your outings. Always remember that a daily routine makes it easy for the stalker to find and observe you.

Don't answer the phone unless you know who it is.

Let the answering machine pick the call up. If an answering machine is not an option, dial *69 (last call return service) or *57 (call trace). Never return a call if you do not know who the number belongs to.

Install a second phone line in your home if possible. If you don't have the finances available, keep the answering machine on.

One of the first things that an officer will advise you to do is, "change your phone number and make sure it's unlisted."   Many stalking experts will tell you not to do this. Why? Any phone number listed or unlisted can be accessed, in a relatively short period of time, if a person knows how.

Many victims reported that when they changed their phone number the stalker became even more enraged. Some of the stalkers appeared at the victims home in a desperate attempt to reach the victim. Some victims were assaulted outside their home or office.  Many of the stalkers bombarded the victims place of employment with phone calls when they could no longer reach the victim at home by phone.

Under no circumstance open your door if you do not know who it is.

Secure outside electrical and phone boxes with a  lock.

Don't make it easy for a stalker to flip circuit breakers or tamper with phone lines.

Obtaining an Injunction Against Harassment or an Order of Protection.

Another question you will often be asked by an officer is, "Do you have a restraining order"? If you don't have one, the officer will normally advise you to obtain one immediately. Although his/her advice is meant well, there are things you must consider before filing for one. Such an order can and often times will enrage a stalker. The restraining order is merely a piece of paper that officers can use as a tool and it does not ensure your safety.  However, there are two very valid reasons to obtain one.  The police are likely to take your calls more seriously and charges can be filed.  Don't ever assume that immediate action will be taken.

If you have made the decision to obtain a restraining order, be more cautious than ever after it is served on your stalker. He/she may retaliate.

According to the Department of Justice, most stalkers (70%) violate restraining orders. However, the stalker who violates such an order is subject to arrest. If a warrant is not issued, the person can be charged with a misdemeanor (IJP - Interfering With Judicial Proceedings). Many victims have been successful in racking up multiple misdemeanor charges against their stalkers for violating the restraining order. In Arizona an IJP is considered a class 1 misdemeanor and carries a six-month sentence if the maximum sentence is imposed.

If you have obtained an Order Of Protection or an Injunction Against Harassment keep a copy of it with you at all times along with verification that the order has been served. In addition, give a copy to your friends, family, neighbors, employers and even co-workers.

There are many pros and cons whether a restraining order should be obtained or not. Each stalking case is unique and you are the only one that can make the final decision to file for one.

Make sure all your keys are accounted for.

If they aren't, change your locks. Install deadbolt locks. Make sure you have adequate lighting outside your home or apartment. Keep your doors locked at all times and make sure your windows are secure.

Many police departments offer safety checks for your home.

Contact your local police department for further information.

If you have a garage, utilize it for your automobile(s).

Keep in mind that a very common trait of a stalker is to slash tires.

If you live in an apartment complex, speak with the manager to arrange for you to park your car in a well lighted area or a more secure place where your car can be observed by you or another person in the complex.

Before you exit your car, make sure no one has slipped in your garage while you were parking your car. 

If you have a door leading into your house from the garage, make sure it is kept locked.

When leaving or arriving at your home always check for unfamiliar cars or persons

If you have a "gut feeling" that something isn't right, don't second guess the feeling - go with it.

Keep a cellular phone handy in the event your phone line is cut.

Contact all of your utility companies and have all of your accounts coded with a password.

Stalkers have been known to call and have phone service, gas, electric, and water turned off at the victim's house simply by placing a call.

Periodically spot check the utility companies to make sure they ask for your password before giving out any information to you.

Do not throw anything in your trash can that contains any information with your name, address or phone number.

This should include bills, junk mail and personal mail.  It's very easy for a stalker to go through your trash cans and obtain all the information he/she needs, not only on you but the businesses and/or people you correspond with.  Obtain a paper shredder if possible or dispose of the mail somewhere other than your home or office trash. 

Safety Tips To Follow In Your Car

Keep your doors locked at all times.

Keep your cell phone accessible at all times.

Always keep a minimum of a half tank of gas in your car.

Change Your Routine

Don't drive the same route to work, to a friend's home or to run errands. Try to plan your routes in advance. Let family, friends, or neighbors know where you are going. Many victims estimate how long they will be gone running errands and if they aren't back at a certain time family, friends or neighbors can alert police officials.

Familiarize yourself with the location of police stations, sub-stations, fire departments, hospitals, all night convenience stores, in the event you need immediate assistance.

Watch your rear view mirror to see if anyone is following you.   Be alert at all times!

If you think someone is following you, make four lefts, four rights, or whatever works for you. If the vehicle continues to follow you call 911 on your cellular phone or go directly to a police station, sub-station, fire department, etc. Remember the description of the car, any identifying marks on the car, a description of the person driving and passengers if you can make them out and a license number if possible.

When you're out, try not to travel alone, and try to stay in public areas. Stay on roads that are well traveled.

Identifying papers in your car.

If you have mail, magazine subscriptions or papers in your car that display your name or address, be sure to turn them face down, keep them in the glove box or in the trunk.  Don't make it easy for a stalker to walk up to your car and get all the information they need to locate you or the person who sent you the mail.

Keep your keys in your hand, not in your purse or pocket, when your going to or leaving your car.

Never leave your garage door opener in the car! 

There have been several reports of stalkers breaking into the victims car to obtain the garage door opener for easy access to the victims home.  Often times it is not discovered until the victim returns home only to find the opener gone.

Safety Tips When You're In A Public Place

Keep your cell phone with you at all times and make sure you have it programmed for 911.

When you arrive at your destination, be aware of the activities in the parking lot. If you have an eerie feeling or you just don't feel safe - go with your "gut feeling" and leave.

Upon entering the establishment, take a good look around to familiarize yourself with who is around.

Be aware of where all exits are located and whom you can turn to for help.

If you're in a restaurant or if you're at a fast food chain, sit where you can see who is coming and going.

Always be aware of your surroundings.

Before you return to your car, once again check to see if anyone is following you. If you even think there is, go back inside and ask someone to walk you to your car. Re-check the parking lot and areas around your car. Once you're safely in your car - lock the door.

Remember - have those car keys in your hand.

Safety Tips At Your Place Of Employment

Even if you have moved, obtained an unlisted phone number and traded cars, stalkers know they can find you at your place of employment. This can pose a threat not only to you but also your company.

Inform your employer immediately that you're being stalked and alert building security.

Many victims fail to do this out of embarrassment and fear of losing their jobs. It's extremely important to notify your company not only for your safety but the safety of co-workers. If your receptionist or security officer is not notified, the stalker could very easily walk right in.

Again, be sure to give as many employees as you can the description of your stalker, show his/her picture; give them a description of the vehicle(s) he/she has access to. Let them be extra eyes for you and possible witnesses.

Have someone screen your calls, visitors and packages that you may receive at work.

If other employees receive calls from your stalker, have them document just like you do, and add it to your documentation. Stress upon them the importance of not getting into a confrontation with your stalker or trying to reason with him/her.

If your stalker has threatened any co-worker in person or on the phone, have them file a police report immediately. If they feel it's harassment from the stalker, again have them file a report.

Change your schedule if possible. Starting work as little as thirty minutes earlier or later can help. However, avoid a "set routine". Speak with your supervisor. Many companies now offer flextime.

Avoid going to your car alone.  Ask a coworker or security person to walk with you.

Anytime your stalker is seen in the area, document it. If you have a valid restraining order, file a report.

Above all, keep an open line of communication with your manager and co-workers.  Make sure management has a copy of your Order of Protection or Injunction Against Harassment and verification that the order was served.

Safety Tips If Children Are Involved

If your children attend day care, make sure the day care center or private sitter is made aware of the stalking and what to do if the stalker were to make contact.

Leave the same information and copies of restraining orders as you would with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

The same applies to children attending elementary, intermediate and high schools.

Know the whereabouts of your children at all times.

Go over safety and emergency procedures with your children, a representatiave of their school, and what to do if the stalker appears or makes contact.

 

If you have any additional safety tips that have worked for you or other people that you know please share them with us.

All correspondence is confidential.

     

End Stalking In America, Inc.

endstalking@aol.com

 

Disclaimer: This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or mental advice. Professionals should be contacted for all legal advice, mental and threat assessments.


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Home Page     Table of Contents      What is Stalking     Forms of Stalking     Traits of Stalkers     Mistakes Victims Make

Reactions of Victims     Stalking In The Workplace      Safety Tips    Building Your Case      Filing A Police Report

Obtaining Police Reports      Court Orders      Questions After Filing       Cover Your Tracks      Changing Your Social Security Number

Understanding The Judicial System     Definitions      Victims' Rights In Arizona     Arizona Statutes      Victims Speak Out

Evolution of E.S.I.A. - "My Story"      Firearms-Personal Protection     State Stalking Laws    Recommended Reading

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