Even if you and your ex-boyfriend once shared time, love and laughter, stalking is still abuse. Your ex might call, text or e-mail you, follow and spy on you or show up at your home or workplace to harass you. According to George Mason University Sexual Assault Services, 8 per cent of women have been stalked at some point, and many of these cases begin with sexual assault. Approximately 2 per cent of stalking cases end in murder. Carefully plan and make preparations to end the abuse and take your life back.
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Make your intentions clear. Tell your ex-boyfriend that you no longer wish to have contact with him and you don't want to receive his calls, texts and e-mails. Be firm, direct and consistent.
Contact your local police department for help. The police can help you file criminal charges or give you a restraining order, legally limiting your ex-boyfriend's proximity to you; if he gets too close, you can call the police for immediate help.
Tell a friend or family member about the stalking. Write down times, dates and places of stalking violations and the action committed, such as calling you or following you home. Copy the information periodically and give the copy to a friend to keep safe.
Spend time with friends and family. A stalker, like any bully, wants to isolate you. Developing a support team will help you feel that you're not alone.
Lock your doors and windows, whether you are home or not. Take a self-defence class and learn how to protect yourself. Any stalker can become violent, so be careful. Call the police if you feel threatened.
Do not communicate with the stalker. Any feedback, positive or negative, can increase the threats and abuse.
Change your phone number, keep it unlisted and change your e-mail address. This limits your ex-boyfriend's ability to contact you. Use an answering machine or messaging service and caller ID to screen your calls. Use a P.O. Box and keep your address unlisted.
Get a cell phone and keep it charged; it could be a vital means of contacting help if you are attacked or taken against your will.
Designate a safe area, such as a friend or family member's house, the police station or a busy place like a shopping mall, in case you are followed by your stalker. Do not be alone.
Program emergency contacts into your phone and keep a list of numbers handy. Prepare for an emergency by packing a change of clothes, toiletries and spare money in a suitcase; keep it in the boot of your car or at a friend's house. Give a friend a spare set of keys and keep your car filled with gas.
Alert police, friends and family members at the first sign of danger.
Tips and warnings
- Keep harassing e-mails, mail, answering machine messages and other physical evidence for the police.
- Keep copies of important documents, such as your birth certificate and social security card, in a safe location.
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