Stalking is a frightening phenomenon in our society today. Anyone can be stalked, and anyone can be a stalker. Obsessive behaviour can turn nasty, dangerous and illegal. In our free society, it is easy for a stalker to harass a victim in person, through the mail, over the telephone and on the Internet. Fortunately, there are things you can do to discourage a stalker.
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Things you need
- Copies of stalker letters
- Photographs and video of stalker
- Police reports
- Restraining order
Decide whether someone's behaviour toward you constitutes stalking. Basically, if they have repeatedly bothered you even though you have specifically asked them to leave you alone, and you fear for your safety, you are being stalked.
Determine what kind of stalker is bothering you. Psychologists differ in the number of categories they have for stalkers, but, in general, they fall into three main groups. The "obsessive stalker" is possessive of the victim. Former boyfriends and girlfriends who won't move on fall into this category. The "revenge stalker" is trying to harm the victim in retaliation for a perceived slight. This can be real or imaginary. The "delusional stalker" has an imaginary relationship with the victim. They may not even know each other. Stalkers who pursue celebrities fall into this category. This type of stalker is the most dangerous since they are less likely to listen to reason.
Refuse to interact with a stalker. Tell him once in a clear and definitive voice to leave you alone. After that, do not respond to a stalker. They are not always rational, and any interaction could be interpreted as approval. Avoiding interaction will help avoid conflicts. If the stalker calls, hang up immediately without saying a word. If he sends you mail, return it unopened. Do not accept packages from him. Block his e-mails. If he shows up in person, walk away without a word or recognition. If he threatens you, tries to stop you, or attacks you, then stronger measures are required.
Call the police immediately if you ever fear for your safety. It is never permissible for a stalker to violate your rights. Many victims fear going to the police thinking it will only make the stalker angry. The opposite is true. Often the police give the stalker a reality check and frighten him into leaving you alone. If the stalker isn't discouraged by the police, then calling officers certainly didn't make them more dangerous. They were already dangerous. At least now the police know that the stalker is a problem.
Keep careful records of everything. If the police are called, be sure to file a police report, and keep a copy. Make it clear to the stalker that you will not interact with him and will call police whenever he shows up. Press charges if he breaks any laws. Make copies of all mail, e-mail and notes. Take pictures and video if you catch him hanging around. Record dates and times of stalking incidents in a journal.
Tell everyone about the stalker. Stalkers like to operate in the shadows. Many will crawl away when exposed. Inform your neighbours, family and coworkers to be on the lookout for the stalker, and to inform you whenever the stalker is spotted. You can then call the police. If a stalker knows he is being watched, he may be less likely to harm you.
Consider a restraining order. Police advise exhausting all other options before filing a restraining order. They do not guarantee your safety and will not stop a truly obsessed stalker. However, they are another way to document the stalking and give you more credibility when police are called. Officers are more likely to arrest someone violating a restraining order than someone you claim is stalking you.
Tips and warnings
- The scary truth about stalkers is that all these measures may not stop one. If a stalker is mentally ill or criminally violent, then locking them up may be the only solution. Unfortunately, they must commit a crime or exhibit dangerous behaviour before this can happen. Focus on keeping yourself safe and documenting the stalker's transgressions so you have evidence to support charges.