How can I protect myself from being stalked?
If you believe that you are being stalked, you can do a lot of things to protect yourself. There is no single response that is appropriate for all stalking victims. Here are some suggestions:
- If you believe it is an emergency, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, contact your local law enforcement authorities.
- Get a Personal Protection Order (PPO) from the Circuit Court. If you have PPO questions, contact the Prosecuting Attorney.
- Keep detailed records of all incidents. When possible, tape-record, videotape or photograph encounters. Make sure the harassment is officially noted in police reports so you can establish a history for court proceedings. Note the date, the time and place of each incident. Take photos of destroyed property or injuries. Keep all recordings, voicemails, text messages, or social media posts for evidence, especially those that contain threats to harm or kill or that would be considered harassing by a reasonable person. To help you document PPO violations, download our Stalking Victim's Log.
- Warn people about your situation. Tell family members, neighbors and co-workers to not give out personal information about you to anyone. At work, have visitors and phone calls screened. Tell building security about your situation.
- Secure your home. Install good deadbolt locks and adequate outside lighting. Lock your windows.
- Change you daily travel route so the stalker cannot easily follow you. Do not walk alone.
- Get a second, unlisted phone line or a cellphone so that your answering machine can record threats. You can pick up calls from family and friends on your private line. Give your private line number out to only a few trusted people.
- Contact groups that can help, such as the National Organization for Victim Assistance at www.trynova.org (click on the "LIVE CHAT" button to live chat, call, or email), SafeCenter at 989-723-9716 or www.thesafecenter.org, or a local shelter.
- Do not try to talk sense into a stalker or agree to meet your stalker to "clarify things."
- Do not plead with the stalker to be left alone. It does no good. Call the police.
- Do not return gifts or send back letters. In many cases this, has caused the stalking to intensify. Keep items for documentation and evidence.
- Do not come to the stalker's aid if the person fakes a crisis to make you feel guilty. If the stalker threatens suicide, call the police to assist.
- If your stalker is an ex-lover, forget about reconciliation.
- Be prepared. Have quick access to telephone numbers and locations of police departments, emergency shelters or friends' homes. Keep money and a packed suitcase available with your important documents for a quick departure. Create a safety plan for yourself.