Stalking: Ways To Stay Safe
Article written by Ramona Jolene
For the exclusive use of resiliencemi.org
Without a doubt, being stalked is one of the most frightening experiences you could ever have. Stalking is more common than you may expect. In the United States, there are nearly 8 million stalking victims annually or 1 in 6 women, and 1 in 17 men.
Aside from the immediate physical threats, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that stalking victims are often plagued by other longer-lasting issues like PTSD and depression. When someone is being stalked, they may feel helpless and confused. However, you have some control over your situation. Here are some steps you can take if you feel someone may be stalking you.
Inform your loved ones
There are many reasons why stalking victims choose not to tell others of the situation. It may be denial, embarrassment, or intimidation. Regardless of the reason, there is strength in numbers. Rather than keeping this to yourself, tell those you trust. By letting the people close to you know, they can offer support and help protect you.
Aside from your family and close friends, you might consider informing neighbors and co-workers. Neighbors could help keep tabs on your home. You might consider creating a “safety signal” that indicates to your neighbors that they should call the police. A study in the Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association outlines that 44% of stalking takes place at work. You may want to tell your supervisor or Human Resources department and put a safety plan in place on what to do if a stalker shows up at your workplace.
Seek Support and/or Legal Action
There are resources available to you if you are being stalked. By contacting law enforcement, you can take action to safeguard yourself and those around you. Anti-stalking laws can vary nationwide, so be sure to ask law enforcement about the laws in your state for clarity.
That being said, know that many social justice professionals now have degrees in criminal justice—especially as programs have shifted online in the recent years for better access—and are specially trained to leverage data-driven tactics and strategies for crime prevention. These professionals include workers from community service, government entities, non-profit organizations, and private agencies. Resilience is one such organization that often works with law enforcement on how to best respond to incidents of stalking.
Resilience (or similar agencies in your area) can also help you take action against your stalker. Resilience can help you file for a Personal Protection Order. Agencies like Resilience will also help with a safety plan and can provide important support and resources. Click here for our blog on safety planning.
Be vigilant of your surroundings and communications
Those being stalked will want to practice extra safety precautions. Be extra aware of where you are and what you say—in person and online. Aside from avoiding going anywhere secluded or dark, avoid being alone if possible. If you’re in a situation where you’ll be sharing personal details (like your phone number, your credit card information, your plans for the week, etc.), be discerning and only do so when necessary.
If a stalker does make contact in any way, document and record everything. Remember, cyberstalking is stalking, too. In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center even noted a 69% increase in cases. In instances like these, it is helpful to save every photo, message, or call. Be sure to turn off your location on your cell phone or tablet, and do not check-in with a location on social media.
Familiarize yourself with the resources available to you
Last but not the least, learn and memorize the numbers and addresses of stalking resources. As much as possible, you should also create a safety plan for yourself. This includes knowing which helplines to call, how to file a Personal Protection Order (PPO), and which organizations can help you. It’s also important to establish untraceable safe housing. Aside from 911, some numbers to know by heart are:
Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence in Ottawa and Allegan County, Michigan 1-800-848-5991
Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 En Español
The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Being stalked is a terrifying experience, but there is help. You can get through this. You are a survivor, and there is hope.
If you or someone you know has experienced stalking, we are here to help. Our advocates are specially trained in filing Personal Protection Orders in Ottawa and Allegan counties. Please contact us for important safety information regarding stalking.
For free and confidential support, contact us today:
24-Hour Help Line: 1-800-848-5991
Hablamos Español: 1-866-728-2131
Safe E-mail: GinnyP411@gmail.com