Safety Tips for Stalking Victims (2023)

Updated:

(Video) How To Protect Yourself From Potential Stalkers | Megyn Kelly TODAY

February 12, 2020

This page contains some suggestions on how to keep yourself safe if you are being stalked or harassed. A stalker can be someone with whom you are/were in a relationship or it can be a co-worker, acquaintance or anyone else. These are general suggestions that may not be appropriate in every situation – please pick and choose the ones that seem relevant to your situation. Following these suggestions can’t guarantee your safety, but it could help make you safer.

General safety strategies
Safety at home
Safety at work and school
Legal options / documenting the stalker’s activities

(Video) Safety Planning with Stalking Victims Webinar (4/14/20)

General safety strategies:

  • Sometimes stopping all communication with an abuser can be dangerous. However, if it’s safe to do so, stop all contact and communication with the person stalking or harassing you but keep any evidence of the stalking (such as voicemails, texts, emails, etc.,) for future court cases or criminal actions. If it’s not safe to stop all communication, you may want to limit them as much as possible.
  • Carry a cell phone with you. Keep handy or memorize emergency phone numbers that you can use in case of an emergency. If you ever feel you are in immediate danger, call 911. You may also be eligible for a free phone with free minutes from a phone company such as the Assurance Wireless Program, sponsored by Virgin Mobile (WomensLaw is not affiliated with this program).
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you may want to reach out for help, even if nothing immediately dangerous is happening.
  • Have a safe place in mind to go to in an emergency. You might go to a police station, place of worship, public area, the home of a family member or friend (unknown to the stalker), or a domestic violence shelter. If someone is following you, it is generally not a good idea to go home.
  • Try not to travel alone. If you run or walk for exercise, you might want to get an exercise buddy to go with you. Always try to vary your routes to and from work or school, the grocery store, and any other places regularly visited. By changing your daily routes, it could make it more difficult for someone to learn your routine – however, also be aware that a stalker may put a GPS monitoring device on your car or cell phone. One hint that a GPS device may be installed is if you are varying your routes or going to unexpected places but the stalker still seems to find you.
  • Be aware of how much identifying information you are posting on the Internet through social networking sites and online purchases. You may want to select the highest security settings on any social networking accounts and think carefully before giving out your personal information through online purchases. To read more, go to our Safety with Social Media page.
  • Alert the three credit bureaus and ask to have a fraud alert put on your credit reports: Experian (888) 397-3742, Equifax (888) 766-0008, and TransUnion (877) 322-8228. A stalker may try to obtain your Social Security Number and/or mother’s maiden name to use this information to obtain your credit information. Putting an alert on your credit could help to prevent this and possible fraudulent activity and/or identity theft. For more information on fraud alerts, you can go to What is a fraud alert and should I get one? on WomensLaw.org’s Financial Abuse page.

Information adapted, in part, from SafeHorizon.org and, in part, from PrivacyRights.org.

Safety at home:

  • Alert your friends, neighbors, and building personnel (if you live in an apartment or work in an office building) about your situation. Give them as much information as you can about the stalker, including a photograph of him/her, and a description of any vehicles s/he may drive. Ask them to notify you or call the police if they see the stalker at your house.
  • Keep your address confidential whenever possible. If the stalker does not know your current address, you may want to register for your state’s address confidentiality program, which will allow you to use an alternate address for public records (such as the DMV, Board of Elections, etc.). When giving a mailing address for bills, magazines, and shipments, consider using a post office box or an address unknown to the stalker (such as a relative of yours). Not using your actual address whenever possible could make it harder for a potential stalker to find you on the Internet. You may even want to get the post office box at least two zip codes away from your home and use it on all correspondence and even your checks. You can learn more about how to set up a P.O. box.
  • Tell friends and neighbors not to give your address or phone number to anyone. Explain that they should not even give information to someone posing as a delivery person or mail carrier even if this person says s/he has a package for you – this could be the stalker.
  • If you live in an apartment, don’t put your name on the list of tenants on the front of your apartment building. Use a variation of your name that only your friends and family would recognize.
  • Identify escape routes out of your house. Plan different routes in case the stalker is in front of your home, in the backyard, or if s/he enters the home.
  • Pack a bag with important items you’d need if you had to leave quickly, such as a reserve set of credit cards, identification, money, medication, important papers, keys, and other valuables. Put the bag in a safe place, or give it to a friend or relative you trust. Consider, too, putting together a separate bag that includes the stalking log, a camera, information about the offender, etc., that you can easily grab if you have to leave the house in a hurry.
  • Install solid core doors with dead bolts at your house or apartment (solid core doors are sturdier than hollow doors). If all of your sets of keys cannot be accounted for, you may want to change the locks (and secure the spare keys) in case the stalker managed to get a set of your keys. If you are being stalked by a person who lives with you, check with a lawyer before changing your locks. Fix any broken windows or doors and consider getting an alarm system put in that will signal the police if the alarm is triggered. Note: If you rent your apartment/house, you may have to get the landlord’s approval before making changing the locks, putting in an alarm, etc.
  • Get a new, unlisted phone number and/or block your phone number. If you are getting unwanted phone calls, you may want to change your phone number and keep it unlisted. For additional safety, you may also want to ask the phone company to block your number so it won’t show up on calls you make. Please be aware that blocking is not 100% effective and programming glitches can sometimes mistakenly reveal blocked numbers.

Information adapted, in part, from PrivacyRights.org.

(Video) How to Get Rid of a Stalker

Safety at work and school:

  • Tell co-workers, schoolmates and on-site security staff enough about your situation so that they can help keep your information private and help keep you safe. Give them as much information that you are comfortable sharing about the stalker, including a photograph of him/her, and a description of any vehicles s/he may drive. Ask them to notify you or call the police if they see him/her. If you are worried that by alerting people at your workplace about the stalking may put you in danger of being fired or may affect how your supervisor treats you, you may want to first check with a lawyer to see if your state has any laws that protect victims of domestic violence/stalking from discrimination in the workplace. Go to our Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.
  • Tell co-workers and schoolmates not to give out any information about you to anyone. Ask the school administrator or the office staff at your job to make a notation in your file so that this is clear to any new staff members who have access to your personnel files.
  • If you have a car, always park in a well-lit area. Ask a security guard at work or school to walk you to your car or, if you are taking public transportation at a nearby location, perhaps the security guard may even walk you to the nearest bus/subway/train station.

Legal options / documenting the stalker’s activities:

  • For many people, reporting all incidents and threats to the police immediately is an important part of staying safe. (However, for some people, such as undocumented immigrants living in a county where the police may report them to Immigration, this may not be a safe alternative.) When making reports to the police, keep a note of the name of the officer in charge of the case and the crime reference number, if applicable. You can also ask for a copy of the police report that is filed.
  • Create a stalking log, which records the date and time of each incident as the incidents occur, what the stalker did or said, what actions, if any, you took and who was present. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw and get the witnesses’ contact information (name and phone number) in case you need the police or prosecutor to later talk to the witness. The Stalking Awareness, Prevention, and Resource Center has a sample stalking incident log that you can print out as a guide.
  • Save evidence of stalking and online harassment. Keep all voicemails, text and email messages sent by the stalker. You can get hard copies of text messages by forwarding them to an email address and printing them out or you may be able to take a screenshot of the text or email. If you cannot take screenshots on your phone (if you don’t have a “smart phone”), another option may be to take actual photos or videos of the cell phone screen with the text message on it. If you don’t have a camera, you could take the phone to the police and ask them to photograph the text messages or document them in another way. Some people may be inclined to try to show the messages to the judge on the actual phone but this may mean that the phone itself may be taken into evidence and kept during the court proceedings, thereby taking the phone away from you.
  • Consider getting a protective order against the person stalking you. Most states allow you to apply for a protective order based on stalking if the stalker is an intimate partner. Some states allow you to apply for a protective order based on stalking even if the stalker is not an intimate partner. Enter your state in the drop-down menu of our Restraining Orders page to see what types of protective orders are available in your state. If you do get a protective order, carry a copy of it with you at all times. However, please remember even restraining orders do not always prevent stalking from escalating into violence. Continue planning for your safety in other ways as well. Go to our Advocates and Shelters page to find an advocate who can think through safety planning with you.

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FAQs

How do you support someone who has been stalked? ›

Encourage your friend to maintain a detailed log of all contacts with the stalker and save any evidence (e.g. notes, gifts, objects, photos, printed emails or social media posts and messages, or voicemails) as record of the stalking behavior. Seek support and information for you and your friend.

What advice would you give a friend who is the victim of cyberstalking? ›

Do not respond to their communications, never agree to meet and do not confront them about the stalking. Report it to the police - The police take stalking reports seriously and they have lots of experience investigating them. Report it early to the police directly using 101.

How do you deal with a cyberstalker? ›

6 Things to Do if You Have a Cyberstalker
  1. Block Your Stalker Online. All social media platforms let users block other users from seeing their account activities. ...
  2. Adjust Your Account Privacy Settings. ...
  3. Block Their Calls and Emails. ...
  4. Change Your Number and Email. ...
  5. Report Your Stalker to Law Enforcement. ...
  6. Get a Restraining Order.
20 Aug 2022

What are two examples of stalking? ›

Stalkers use a variety of tactics, including (but not limited to): unwanted contact including phone calls, texts, and contact via social media, unwanted gifts, showing up/approaching an individual or their family/friends, monitoring, surveillance, property damage, and threats.

What is the process of stalking? ›

Stalking is conservatively defined as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear." [1] Stalking ...

What is the most common consequence of stalking? ›

Victims of stalking experience a number of disruptive psychological consequences of stalking, including significant fear and safety concerns, as well as symptoms of depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (2). Most stalking victims do not seek mental health services (2).

What causes people to stalk? ›

Most often, people who stalk have a range of distorted beliefs about relationships (“I need to pursue someone for them to love me”, “I am entitled to a relationship”, “chasing him is romantic”), entitlement to contact with someone to pursue them or to resolve a grievance (we are never entitled to contact someone if ...

What is the most common type of stalking? ›

Simple Obsessional: This is the most common type of stalker. The stalker is usually a male and the focus of the stalking is an ex-wife, ex-lover or former boss.

What should you do if you are a victim of cyberstalking? ›

If you are a Victim of Cyberstalking:

You should file a report with local law enforcement or contact your local prosecutor's office to see what charges, if any, can be pursued. Save copies of police reports and record all contact with law enforcement officials and the prosecutor's office.

What are two solutions to prevent cyberstalking on social media? ›

How to protect against cyberstalking
  • Review and change passwords for all online accounts.
  • Enable strict privacy settings on social media platforms.
  • Disable any publicly available itineraries or calendars.
  • Limit online sharing with individuals outside your close friends or family.

What are the ways of guarding against cyber stalking? ›

Increase your privacy settings
  • Make your posts 'friends only' so that only people you know get to see them.
  • Don't let social networks post your address or phone number publicly. ( ...
  • If you need to share your phone number or other private information with a friend, do so in a private message - not in a public post.

What is credible threat in stalking? ›

Credible threat. Under this statute, a “credible threat” is one that: causes the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety (or for the safety of his or her immediate family), and. one that the maker of the threat appears able to carry out.

What are the four categories of stalking? ›

Types of Stalking
  • The Rejected stalker (click to expand)
  • The Resentful stalker (click to expand)
  • The Intimacy Seeking stalker (click to expand)
  • The Incompetent Suitor (click to expand)
  • The Predatory stalker (click to expand)

Should you confront a cyberstalker? ›

Make sure you block the person cyberstalking you from all your accounts. You should block them on social media and on your smartphone. Refuse to respond to any contact. If the person cyberstalking continues to find ways to contact you, do not respond to anything they post or send you.

What is stalk and example? ›

/stɑːk/ the main stem of a plant, or the narrow stem that joins leaves, flowers, or fruit to the main stem of a plant: She trimmed the stalks of the tulips before putting them in a vase. a narrow structure that supports a part of the body in some animals: The eyes of shrimps are on movable stalks.

What is the best definition of stalking? ›

"Stalking" is the term commonly used to refer to a pattern of behavior directed towards an individual by another that results in the person to whom the behavior is directed fearing for themselves and/or others. The behaviors can involve overtly criminal behavior or seemingly non-criminal, innocent behavior or both.

Which of the following may be an indicator of stalking? ›

Look for evidence of varied stalking methods: making unwanted phone calls, messages, letters, e-mails, or sending unwanted gifts; following or spying; showing up in places frequented by the victim; or waiting for the victim.

How do you know if someone is stalking you? ›

One of the easiest ways to identify your Instagram stalker is to upload a photo or video to Instagram Stories and check the bottom left of the screen to see the accounts that have viewed it. Pay particular attention to the users who don't follow your account but watch your Stories regularly.

What are the three types of harm that can be inflicted within intimate partner violence? ›

Intimate partner violence is one of the most common forms of violence against women and includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and controlling behaviours by an intimate partner.

How is harassment defined? ›

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), national origin, older age (beginning at age 40), disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).

Who is likely to be a victim of stalking? ›

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and at the federal level, and it can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or personal associations. The majority of stalking victims are women and most stalkers are men, but men can be victims, too.

What is the fear of being stalked? ›

Scopophobia: the fear of being watched #horror #horrortok #creepy #creepypasta #stalker #scary #3d #art #phobia #phobias #scopophobia #nightmare #paranormal #paranormaltiktok.

What is the punishment for stalking a woman on the first Offence? ›

(2) Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may ...

What kind of person stalks someone? ›

Stalkers are often obsessive in multiple areas of their life including their romantic inclinations. They usually have repetitive thought patterns that play like a broken record, so they gradually become so preoccupied with their target, they're unable to sleep, forget to eat, and let their jobs go to the wayside.

What is being stalked like? ›

Being stalked can take a big toll on someone. It can lead a person to feel a loss of control over their life and a loss of their autonomy and privacy. Many people experience high anxiety, distress or fear, hypervigilance, or worry that it's never going to end or that no one else takes it seriously.

Why you shouldn't stalk people on social media? ›

By visiting and stalking other people's profiles, you're risking to accidentally like an old picture while you didn't even want that person to know you were on their profile. Not only did you stalk someone but, you're letting others find out that you're stalking people!

What percentage of people have been stalked? ›

About 1.3% (3.4 million) of all persons age 16 or older were victims of stalking in 2019. The percentage of persons who experienced stalking declined from 1.5% in 2016 to 1.3% in 2019.

Is stalking unethical? ›

Usually, one action violates ethical wrongdoing, while the other step is morally right. Stealing to feed your family is a classic example. While stealing is ethically wrong, in some cases, such as those that involve saving a life, it is the morally correct thing to do.

Is stalking a form of love? ›

She writes about her experiences. The media and even police make comments about stalkers being love obsessed. Stalking has nothing to do with love. It's about controlling and intimidating someone.

What to do when someone is constantly harassing you online? ›

Reporting harassment to the police

You can report harassment to the police. They can charge someone with criminal harassment if: the person has harassed you more than once. the harassment made you feel distressed or alarmed.

What are the characteristics of victims of cyberstalking? ›

As a consequence of cyberstalking, victims experience a continual state of anxiety or fear that affects their quality of life and could force them to change their online and offline habits [3,4].

How could cyberstalking affect a victim's life? ›

The findings suggest that the emotional impact of cyberstalking predominantly includes co‐morbid anxiety and depression. Common coping strategies adopted by victims in our sample include avoidant coping, ignoring the perpetrator, confrontational coping, support seeking, and cognitive reframing.

What is cyberstalking short answer? ›

Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, group, or organization. It may include false accusations, defamation, slander and libel. It may also include monitoring, identity theft, threats, vandalism, solicitation for sex, doxing, or blackmail.

What are the principles of cyberstalking? ›

Cyberstalking involves the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to perpetrate more than one incident intended to repeatedly harass, annoy, attack, threaten, frighten, and/or verbally abuse individuals (UNODC, 2015; Maras, 2016).

What are the different types of cyber stalking? ›

There are three most common forms of cyber stalking:
  • Email Stalking: sending hate, obscene, or threatening emails, or sending viruses and spam. · ...
  • Internet Stalking: spreading rumors or tracking victims on the web. · ...
  • Computer Stalking: hacking into a victims computer and taking control of it. ·

How do you protect someone from harassment? ›

A civil harassment restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence. You can ask for a civil harassment restraining order if: A person has abused (or threatened to abuse), sexually assaulted, stalked, or seriously harassed you, and.

What are the Defences to harassment? ›

A common defence to an allegation of criminal harassment is that the alleged behaviour was conducted with lawful authority. An example of such lawful behaviour could be repeated attempts of contact to enforce a court order or serve court documents.

How do you Cyberstalk someone? ›

There are several ways a cyberstalker goes after a victim. Here are a few examples.
...
Here are a few examples.
  1. False Accusations. ...
  2. Gathering Information. ...
  3. Monitoring. ...
  4. Flying monkeys. ...
  5. Playing the Victim. ...
  6. Sending viruses. ...
  7. Ordering products. ...
  8. Arranging a meeting.
23 Sept 2019

What is considered a true threat? ›

In legal parlance a true threat is a statement that is meant to frighten or intimidate one or more specified persons into believing that they will be seriously harmed by the speaker or by someone acting at the speaker's behest.

What qualifies a threat? ›

A threat is any words, written messages or actions that threaten bodily harm, death, damage to real or personal property, or any injury or death to any animal belonging to that person. A threat can include those that are conditional on the person doing something or failing to do something.

Which three elements must exist in order to be considered a threat? ›

You willfully threatened another person with the intent of seriously injuring or killing that person. The threat was made verbally, in writing or through electronic communication. You meant for your statement to be understood as a threat, regardless of if you were able to or intended to carry the threat out.

What is the act of stalking? ›

The term “stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.

Is a cyberstalker a hacker? ›

Cyberstalkers may resort to actual identity theft in an attempt to embarrass, harass or exploit the victim. An offender may be a skilled hacker with extensive technical knowledge. Stalkers may resort to using hardware such as GPS tracking devices installed on a vehicle.

What are stalkers intentions? ›

Some people become stalkers because they feel like they've been mistreated in some way. These stalkers often have some form of mental illness, experience feelings of paranoia or persecution, and can be self-righteous and self-pitying. Stalking the victim can be a way to get revenge for their perceived mistreatment.

What kind of things do stalkers do? ›

Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards or emails. Damage your home, car, or other property. Monitor your phone calls or computer use. Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.

What are stalkers motivation? ›

Motivations for stalking include a delusional belief in romantic destiny, a desire to reclaim a prior relationship, a sadistic urge to torment the victim, or a psychotic overidentification with the victim and the desire to replace him or her.

What kind of people do stalkers target? ›

WHO ARE STALKERS? Most stalkers target people they know. Many stalkers commit this crime against people who they've dated/been romantically involved with. Stalkers may also be acquaintances, family members and/or strangers.

Who is more likely to stalk? ›

Although stalking is a gender-neutral crime, most (78 percent) stalking victims are female and most (87 percent) stalking perpetrators are male. Adults between 18 and 29 years old are the primary targets of stalking, comprising 52 percent of all victims.

What type of stalking is done in a physical sense? ›

Cyberstalking is also considered unsolicited contact from the perpetrator to the victim. The difference between cyberstalking and surveillance stalking is that surveillance stalking is done in a physical sense, and cyberstalking is done through technology and electronic means.

Videos

1. Stalking Awareness Week – A story behind the statistics
(Sussex Police)
2. What counts as harassment and stalking? [Criminal law explainer]
(Daniel Barnett, Barrister)
3. How to Protect Yourself from a Stalker
(Howcast)
4. Stalking Victim On Her 8-Year Stalking Case, And Tips: ‘Thank God I’m Here’ | Megyn Kelly TODAY
(TODAY)
5. This is How a Stalker's Brain Works And It's Really Disturbing
(Thoughty2)
6. Enhancing Stalking Victim Safety During Covid-19 (5/21/20)
(SPARC Associate)
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