As with many types of emotional and physical abuse involving women, it is often our nature to evade or negate the situation. Dealing with a stalker is no different. Stalking can be defined as any form of persistent harassment that causes fear, usually in the form of unwanted visits, letters, emails, and phone calls. Stalkers are often someone we know, an ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, or co-worker.
Below are some ways to know if you’re being stalked or have potential to be stalked:
- You recently broke up with your boyfriend/husband/partner and he was not only extremely hurt but aggressive and violent about it
- You receive unwanted letters, phone calls, or emails from your stalker
- You see your stalker in the same stores, restaurants, parking lots, or at your workplace
- You find our stalker driving or walking past your home
- You have been physically or sexually assaulted by your stalker
It’s important to take the above signs seriously. It’s much better to deal with the situation now than to ignore it and let things get more serious, possibly risking your own physical and emotional safety.
Here are a few tips for dealing with stalkers:
- Get in touch with your local police immediately. Even if you don’t have a detailed report, you can at least describe or send a photo of your stalker and ask the police to start patrolling your neighborhood more frequently. You can also file a legal restraining order against your stalker. If the fear caused by a restraining order isn’t enough, violations of a restraining order will result in serious legal consequences.
- Start keeping a record of any instances involving your stalker. When you see your stalker, write down the exact location, time, and place; take a picture or video if you are able. Save any relevant voicemails, emails, or letters.
- If you feel your stalker’s messages to you—through phone calls, emails, or letters—are too threatening and disturbing, you can take a number of actions to block the correspondences from reaching you. Pick up your mail as soon as possible to avoid the risk of your stalker tampering with your mail; you can also ask the post office to hold your mail and pick it up there. Some phone companies can block calls from particular numbers. You might change your phone number if you feel this is necessary. You can also block his emails through your server. Keep in mind, however, that if you block correspondences with your stalker, you are losing evidence if you plan to take any legal actions.
- Keep trusted family members and friends informed of the situation. This way they can keep an eye out for your stalker when you’re not home or when you are out together in familiar places.
- Make sure your home is secure. Lock all your doors and windows and change the locks if your stalker ever had a key to your house.
- Alter your daily routine. If you have a set schedule, it is easier for your stalker to find you.
- Don’t go places alone, particularly at night. This will make you more vulnerable to physical, verbal, and emotional abuse.
- Tell your stalker’s employer about the situation, if you can. This will help others keep a closer eye on your stalker.
Finally, it is most important to remember that your stalker has no right to stalk you or engage in any form of communication with you. If you feel that you are in any form of danger—physical or emotional—call the police immediately!