Stalking is a dangerous crime that can elicit feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, and isolation in its victims. However, victims of stalking are not helpless against their stalkers.
The National Center for Victims of Crime advises people to take these steps if they feel they are victims of stalking.
• Call 9-1-1. People who suspect they are in immediate danger should not hesitate to call 9-1-1.
• Trust your instincts. It may be tempting to downplay the danger posed by a stalker, especially when victims have or have had personal relationships with their stalkers.
However, the NCVC warns against downplaying the danger, noting that people who feel they are unsafe probably are. Threats should be taken seriously.
Danger is generally higher when stalkers talk about suicide or murder and in situations when victims are trying to leave or end a relationship.
• Contact a crisis hotline. Crisis hotlines and domestic violence programs can help victims devise plans to safeguard themselves from stalkers.
Such agencies also can provide insight regarding local laws, which vary depending on where victims live, and refer victims of stalking to other helpful services.
Local programs or agencies can advise victims about contacting police and seeking court orders of protection.
• Develop a safety plan. Do not hesitate to develop a safety plan, which typically involves enlisting the help of trusted friends or relatives.
Trusted loved ones can provide a respite from stalkers by offering a place to stay, and such friends and relatives also can accompany stalking victims to meetings with law enforcement authorities to provide support.
Safety plans should include ways that victims will change their daily routines to make them less vulnerable to stalkers, as well as how they will respond if stalkers appear at their homes, schools, offices, or other places they frequent.
Do not communicate with stalkers. Do not communicate with stalkers or respond to their attempts to contact you.
• Keep evidence that you’re being stalked. Do not delete emails, voicemails, text messages, letters, or other evidence that can prove you’re being stalked.
In addition, take and save photos of anything stalkers damage, such as property, and any injuries they cause to you, a loved one or a pet.
Stalking is a serious crime, but victims do not have to suffer in silence. Learn more at www.victimsofcrime.org.