What To Do If You’re Being Stalked
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a time when you feel all warm and fuzzy, laden with wonderful gifts or excited to give a one-of-a-kind present to the one you adore. But for some of us, it’s a horrible reminder of a scary experience. While statistics show that 1 in 6 women at some point in their lives will have a stalker, men are not immune to feeling the anxiety of harassment. People have been forced to such extremes as moving to a different state or changing jobs because of the unwanted attention given usually by someone they know. And cyberstalking takes things to a whole new level through frightening, threatening emails and texts.
You don’t have to feel like you have no options. According to the National Center for Victims of Crimes, a nonprofit that advocates for victim’s rights, there are specific things that you can do to make you to stay safe.
1. Take It Seriously: If you feel threatened, don’t downplay the situation because you liked the person at one time or feel sorry for him/her. Trust your instincts! If you think you are in immediate danger, call 911 or file a report with the police, especially if the stalker is determined to hurt you or himself.
2. Use Your Phone: There are several agencies that will help stalking victims or victims of domestic violence or rape (see below). You will get the support and information needed about pressing charges based on the laws where you live (since stalking laws differ by state). An agency can help you seek an order of protection or develop a safety plan, which might include changing your daily routine until the situation is resolved. Also, use your phone to record conversations with your unwelcome admirer.
3. Keep Your Paperwork: If the stalking is documented with letters, gifts, phone messages, video, texts, make sure to keep it all in a safe place, no matter how disturbing. A record of the dates and times when each form of contact occurred can constitute as evidence if you decide to press charges. You can find a stalking incident and behavior log here.
4. Shut It Down: Let your stalker emphatically know in as few words as possible that you are not interested in a relationship of any kind. Be as clear about your intentions. Don’t use words like, “not right now” or “if things we’re different.” But if you are truly living in fear, don’t engage or communicate in anyway. Let the police handle the matter.
5. Run AndTell: Let people know what’s happening with you. Don’t feel embarrassed or think that you did something wrong. Tell your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and your boss about your situation and alert them not to give out your personal information to anyone without your prior consent. Put them on alert so they too can be cautious of strangers lurking around.
If you are being stalked, consider contacting one of the following agencies for help: