Tips to Help You to Better Protect Yourself from Stalkers
December 13, 2011
I’ve spent a good portion of my life working with, and providing services to victims of stalking. I’d like to tell you that the stalking problem in the United States is not as bad as it seems – but I can’t. Research tells us that roughly one out of every twelve women and one out of forty five men will be stalked at some point in their lifetime. [Editor’s note: According to the most recent report from the US Department of Justice, 2% of women and 0.7% of men experience stalking each year — http://www.ncvc.org/src/AGP.Net/Components/DocumentViewer/Download.aspxnz?DocumentID=45862 , Table 3]
Despite the popular misconception that most stalkers are strangers to their victims, it is often someone you know – sometimes too well. Those who stalk their intimate partners (former or current) are more likely to re-offend, to physically approach, and to use weapons than other stalkers In domestic violence cases, the implications of stalking are startling. It is reported that within one year of their murders, 89% of victims of domestic homicide were stalked by their intimate partners.
But statistics are cold numbers. They don’t give you any idea of the terror that these survivors deal with on a daily basis. Numbers don’t reveal the truly vicious toll on lives that stalking (and related crimes) take on the victim, their family, and friends. Stalking is a crime that can escalate into violence regardless of whether or not the stalker threatens violence and even when they have no record of violence.
The hard truth is that there are victims out there right now who are scared and feel alone, and may not know what they can do to protect themselves and who they can contact for help. In Texas, a stalking victim endured eight years of vicious attacks by a cyberstalker. Attempts by law enforcement to identify and locate the stalker proved to be unsuccessful. She grew so distraught that she eventually took her own life. Sadly for every story like this, there are many more. It is for reasons such as these, that I am determined to do everything I can to educate others, teach them to protect themselves and try to avoid more casualties in what has become a war of unnerving proportions.
Here are some tips to help you to better protect yourself from stalkers.
EDUCATION – Learn how to defend yourself. Take some self-defense classes. If you have decided to buy a weapon, have a qualified instructor train you on how to use it properly, and then make the time to train on the range and know your weapon.
GUARD YOUR PRIVACY – Your personal information is just that – personal. Keep your plans, photos, dreams, and other personal tidbits from social networking sites! You can be tracked and hacked.
ROUTINE – Make it harder for stalkers to easily locate you. Look for alternate ways of going about your daily activities (different routes to work, change where you go for coffee, etc.), which can discourage stalkers.
DOCUMENT – You must keep all communications from the stalker. This includes, emails, voicemails, packages, gifts, etc. This documentation is vital for law enforcement as evidence.
RESOURCES – Know what resources are available to you in your state. Advocacy groups such as Survivors in Action provide varying levels of support and resources that can make the difference. Private companies, such as Janus Investigative Solutions, can help you navigate through your unique situation by providing threat assessment and investigative services. Consultations with a qualified threat assessment professional can go a long way in both your physical and emotional well-being.
Stay safe, and know that there are people and organizations that can help you.