Stalking is a crime, and too many women fall victim to this crime. Those who are stalked often are left feeling like they have to hide, along with having to deal with the invasion of privacy and the limitation of freedom that this crime brings. If you feel like you may be beings stalked, you should not feel helpless—there are things that you can do to put a stop to stalking and protect yourself. Here are five steps to take if you feel like you are being stalked:
- The first thing you should do if you think you are being stalked is clearly ask the stalker to stop. This request should not in any way engage the stalker further, or be an apology from you. A simple message to the stalker that their attentions are not welcome may serve to discourage them. Just be forewarned that, although this should always be your first step, some stalkers may not be sufficiently turned away. Unfortunately, one of the main goals of stalking is to force the victim to have contact with the stalker, so the attention could continue even if you ask them to stop. Document your attempts to stop the stalking, so that you have some evidence should you ever need to seek assistance from law enforcement personnel.
- Change your daily routines. If you always leave for work at the same time each day and return on schedule, change this up whenever you can. Do not take the same walking or jogging route each day, find several to enjoy and mix it up.
- Shred personal documents before throwing them in the trash. Many stalkers will actually go through your garbage and recycling to gather information about you. Be careful about what you throw out
- Change the locks on your house. Be sure to use deadbolt locks that cannot be picked. A stalker may not actually come in while you are there, but may be inspired to pick your lock and take a look around your house when you are out. Consider installing an alarm on your home, or using one of the many products available, such as window and door alarms, that may deter an intruder and alert the neighbors.
- Get a post office box for your mail if your mailbox doesn’t lock. Another common behavior of stalkers is to go through your mail. Be sure that your mail is secure by picking it up right at the post office.
While these are a few tips about things you should do, there are a few things that you should never do. These include retaliating against the stalker in any way, including stalking them. Instead, document each instance of harassment or stalking, and keep records. The stalker is seeking contact from you in any way, and your attention will be viewed as a positive result for them. Ignore your stalker, and protect yourself. If you truly feel that you are being stalked and the above tips do not immediately solve the problem, contact the local police for further assistance or possibly file a formal complaint.