Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stalking Safety Tips

Stalking, the willful, malicious and repeated following and harassing of another person, can happen to any of us - no matter age, gender, race, socio-economic status or geographic location. According to data in the United States, 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime.

Although significant attention has been devoted to adult perpetrators and victims of stalking, there is persuasive evidence that stalking begins at a much younger age. Research suggests that stalking traits begin in childhood and have developmental issues related to attachment, identity formation, and emotional states involving jealousy, envy, and anger. It is important to note that a person who stalks can be someone you know or can be a total stranger.

Things To Do : No one ever deserves to be a victim of a stalker. Every situation that involves stalking is different, but there are a few guidelines to follow if you feel you are a victim of a stalker.

* Convey to the stalker that you wish to have no contact with him/her. It is important not to continue communicating this more than one time. If you do, you are reinforcing the unhealthy attachment.

* Inform friends, family and your employer or school of the situation.

* Inform your local police department that you are a victim of a stalker. This is important to do even if you don't intend to file charges. A record will be created which will serve as a paper trail should you need one.

* Document the situation in which you have seen or had any type of contact with the stalker. This can be done in a personal diary or journal. Save all letters, emails, voice mails or text messages for record keeping.

* Change your phone number, cell phone number, email address, website or blog, if necessary. Consider taking a self-defense class that can help you feel strong and become vigilant to your surroundings.

* Also document any other pertinent information such as car type, license plate number, physical description, etc. These steps can help you if the situation escalates into something more dangerous.

Additional Steps:

* File for a restraining or protective order. Information on filing can be obtained from your local police department.

* Create a contingency plan. You may not think that you are in imminent danger, but the possibility still exists. Your local police or domestic violence center may be able to assist you with a more specific plan.

* Have a list of critical telephone numbers on hand like the local police, friends, family domestic violence centers, campus security, attorney, shelters etc.

* Have a necessities bag. A small suitcase you can keep at work, school, your car, or at a friend's house just in case you choose not to go home.

* Always make sure you're never low on gas in your car.

* Take preventative measures to protect yourself from the stalker. Vary your routine. Don't do the same activities at the same time every day. For example, go to work a little earlier than usual or take different route home.

* Have co-workers, roommates and family members screen phone calls and visitors.

* If possible, do not travel alone.

* Have an alarm system installed in your car and your home. Also consider setting up video surveillance system at home. Many alarm companies offer this and can make the installation affordable.

For more links go to Stalking Resources and the Stalking Resource Center


McCann, J.T. (2000). Stalking in children and adolescents: The primitive bond. Washington: APA Books.

Meloy, J. R. (1998). The psychology of stalking: Clinical and forensic perspectives. New York: Academic Press.

Pathe, M. (2002). Surviving stalking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Ami said...

A restraining order is just a piece of paper. And a paper trail isn't of much comfort when the stalker actually kills or maims the victim.

There is nothing on the list about self defense. If one does not wish to learn how to use and carry a weapon, self defense classes and training are very important.

That 10 minutes from the time you call the police to the time they show up can mean your death.

Dr. Deb said...

There is a self defense tip. Maybe you missed it. Carrying a weapon is very controversial. Could be used against you, but I personally like to carry one. Creating a paper trail *is* very important. It is not a deterrent, but an evidentiary measure.

Wanda's Wings said...

Some very good advise.

Lily said...

Very good tips!

Hopefully Facebook doesn't count, because if it did, I'd be in trouble ;)

Deb said...

How scary. I have been the victim of this twice in my life and it's very unnerving. Great tips...thank you.

onelongjourney said...

So have you ever been the victim of being stalked by a patient?

I wonder how much intrusion is stalking - googling? facebook actually encourages - or at least enables - stalking.

I doubt I'm the only one who has googled her therapist. :)

tracy said...

i'm a stalker....wait! No i'm not... a very SAD patient who just got f i r e d by her Psychiatrist/therapist and has thoughts of driving past his what end....?
The end has already happened. :*(

Richard said...

Thank you for the polite act of following me. Appreciate it. Will be reading more of you since I'm starting taking Lexapro now.

purple cupcakes said...

Having had someone stalk me on my blog for quite a few years it can be pretty darn scary, i hope no one has to go throguh the feelings that are associated with stalking because they can be pretty messy.

STAG said...

Facebook makes me feel the same as if I was standing naked in the middle of a shopping mall. VERY uncomfortable.

Self defense will not help anybody fight off an attack. Not without many thousands of hours of practice. However what self defense classes WILL do for you is show you how to be alert to situations, how to be confident, and to radiate confidence, when to know when to run, when to stand your ground and so forth. (Like the Kenny Rogers song..."Got to Know when to hold, know when to fold em". All of which are most definite survival traits.

I'm not quite sure the ex-girlfriend who could not let go classifies as a stalker. There might be "grades" of stalker, and possibly different motives. This post deserves a LOT of thought and development.

thank you!

Jade said...

Very interesting Deb, and is something I have noticed in the schools I work in.

Hope life is treating you well!

Belizegial said...

Dr. Deb, very informative post here. Much food for thought from the comments generated as well.

truenorth said...

Hi Deb. I've not been here in awhile. This post hits close to home for me since my now ex husband currently continues these behaviours. Ugh. I was just thinking about you the other day and am glad I stopped by.