Stalking is a Crime
Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking criminalizes acts that if separate from one another could be legal. Acts of stalking are usually committed by someone known to the person that experiences the acts. Though these acts may not have significance to outsiders, they may have significance for the person experiencing them due to this relationship. It is important to consider the pattern of behavior as well as the context in stalking, not just the individual acts.
An advocate can help you recognize the pattern of behavior and document it. Together you can explore your options and develop a safety plan.
Steps to take If you are being stalked:
1. Notify Law Enforcement
If you believe you are being stalked, call the police right away. Be sure to tell them about any previous action taken and the results (i.e. the stalker was warned to stay away from you). Your local police department can advise you of your rights and additional safety measures to take and how to obtain a protective/restraining order. MCVP can also help you with this process.
2. Document Everything:
Record witnesses’ names, dates, times, locations, and what the stalker was doing, saying, wearing, driving (license plate no.), etc. If it can be done safely, take pictures of the stalker. Law enforcement agencies log your complaint each time you call. Request a copy of each report.
DOWNLOAD: Stalking Incident and Behavior Log
3. Tell Family, Friends, Neighbors, and Co-workers:
Provide them with a description or photograph of the stalker. Ask them to watch for the stalker, to document everything listed above, and to give the written account to you. Telling others of your concerns also provides a witness if needed.
4. Save All Written Material, Legal Documents, and Telephone Messages
Save and date all cards, letters, notes, and envelopes from the stalker. Obtain and keep copies of warrants, protective orders, court orders, etc.
5. Report threatening calls to the telephone company.
Make use of your telephone provider’s tracing system and Caller ID. Dial *57 immediately after receiving a harassing phone call, and the call will be traced for a small fee. Be sure to log the date and time of each successfully traced call. Save and date all telephone messages, because they too, can be utilized as evidence. Do NOT tape telephone conversations without telling the stalker he or she is being taped beforehand. It is illegal to tape someone without his/her knowledge, and renders such evidence useless.
6. Personal Safety Suggestions
Altering your day to day routine and being vigilant of your surroundings, as well as taking specific actions to make your location less easily known can help increase your safety. MCVP can review with you specific actions to take. Some of these include:
- Change the locks of your home and/or car- and use them- always lock your doors even when in your home or automobile.
- Obtain a post office box – give your address and phone number to as few people as possible.
- Know the locations of both the police and fire stations.
- Keep an emergency bag packed with clothing, money, emergency telephone numbers, toys for your children, etc.
- Report all threats sent by mail to the local police or the FBI.
- Alert neighbors about what is happening, and have a prearranged code or signal in case the stalker is near or at your home.
- Post a “No Trespassing” sign on the edge of your property where it is clearly visible.
- Relocation- Some victims of stalking may also choose to relocate. If you decide to move, be sure you have all of your medical records, leave no paper trail through forwarded mail, do not leave new address with previous landlord or others. You may also be able to call the Social Security Office and request that your Social Security number be changed if you can prove that the stalker is using it to find you.
7. Take Care of Yourself
Experiencing stalking and harassment is very stressful. It is important to develop and maintain a support system. Keep in touch with friends who are supportive and understanding. Tell someone about each encounter with the stalker. You may experience rage, terror, suspicions, an inability to trust anyone, depression, changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns, exhaustion, and/or frequent crying spells. Your body and mind are simply reacting to the extreme stress. Talking to someone who is trained to work with victims may help alleviate some of the symptoms that are interfering with other aspects of your life. Remember, MCVP: Crisis & Prevention Center is an important resource and can provide you with additional safety recommendations, support, and assistance in understanding the legal system and options.
Please contact us for help and support.
We are here for you 24 hours a day.
603-352-3782 or 603-924-3600