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Stalking Safety Planning

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by Dana, a Hotline Advocate

Stalking can be one of the most difficult abuse tactics to safety plan around, especially when police participation and protective orders are either not possible or not helpful in stopping the abuse. Stalking avoids the victim from being able to cut off contact with the abusive partner, which stimulates it much more difficult for mending to begin. Oftentimes, stalking causes the victim to experience so much anxiety and nervousnes that they return to the relationship because that seems like the only solution to get the abusive partner to stop.

According to statistics published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 76% of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first, while 85% of women who survived assassination attempts were stalked. Additionally, 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted before their assassination were stalked in the last year prior to their slaying.

Considering how dangerous stalking is, it is important to be informed and to know what your safety planning alternatives are. To start, what is stalking, and how can you know if you are being stalked? Stalking is generally understood to be a pattern of behaviour directed at a particular person, with the intention to intimidate and frighten the main victims. According to a US Justice Department study on Stalking and Domestic Violence, “Stalking generally refers to harassing or threatening behavior that an individual were engaged in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, attaining harassing telephone call, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. These actions may or may not be accompanied by a believable threat of serious damage, and they may or may not be precursors to an assault or murder.” While stalking behaviours can present during any part of an abusive relationship, the study received stalking to be most common after a victim has left the relationship, and women are significantly more likely to be stalked by a spouse or ex-spouse rather than a stranger, acquaintance, relative, or friend. Considering this, if you are planning to leave an abusive relationship, it is essential to factor in the possibility of stalking when creating your safety plan.

The legal definition of stalking does vary from country to nation, so if you think you are being stalked, it may be helpful to reach out to local law enforcement or a legal advocate to find out more about the specific laws in your region. The National Stalking Awareness Month website also has information about stalking laws in every country as a part of their resource database.

Also, if you believe you are experiencing stalking, document as much about the behaviour in question as possible to create evidence of a pattern of a behaviour, which can be helpful when making a report to law enforcement agencies. We do know that stalking can include a variety of tactics and behaviors, some of which are more obviously threatening, and some of which, taken in isolation, can seem innocent or not worth mentioning. Document anything that builds “youre feeling” afraid or uncomfortable , no matter how small it seems.

Stalking can be physical and/ or digital, and could include tactics such as 😛 TAGEND

building repeated and unwanted phone calls or texts sending unwanted letters or emails following or spying on you showing up wherever you are without a legitimate reason to be there driving by or waiting around at places( home, run, school, etc) you frequent leaving/ sending unwanted items, presents, or flowers for you to find posting datum or spreading rumors about you on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth appearing through your property( including trash cans, your mail, or your vehicle) taking your property collecting information about you taking pictures of you injury your home, automobile, or other property monitoring your phone calls, email, social media, or other computer employ using technology, like concealed cameras or GPS, to track you threatening to hurt yourself, their own families, friends, or pets finding out info by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators contacting friends, household, neighbors, or co-workers about you

This list is not inclusive of every behaviour that a stalker might use, as stalking tactics will be targeted towards what will impact the intended victim the most. Menaces of violence may be implicit or explicit. Remember, even if the stalker’s behaviours are not considered illegal in your country, their behavior is still abusive and there is nothing that you could ever say or do to deserve to be treated in that route. Stalking is never your fault; it is a tactic the abuser is using to intimidate and frighten you so they can( re) gain power and control over you.

If you are being stalked, what can you do? Common safety scheming tips for physical stalking include:

varying your routine( including use a different bank and grocery store, taking a different route to work and/ or school, changing the places you ordinarily frequent) not traveling alone; use the buddy system as much as possible staying in public regions as much as possible notifying friends/ family members/ neighbors/ landlord/ school/ day care/ coworkers/ superintendent about the stalking developing a code term to use when the stalker is present or when you’re fretted you may be in danger( when you text a friend or family member the code term, they know you need help and they follow a previously outlined plan to get you the help you need- this may involve calling the police) increasing home security( installing deadbolts, window locks or grates, visible security cameras, motion-activated outdoor illuminates, and/ or a home security system) making a police report and get a protective order against the stalker( this might not prevent the stalking, but it will allow you to report any violations of the order to the local police, increasing the likelihood that the stalker will eventually face legal outcomes)

Safety planning tips-off for on-line stalking include:

blocking their telephone number and blocking them on social media( and asking your friends to block them/ report their account as spam) contacting your e-mail provider to see if they can block an e-mail address changing your telephone number and e-mail address or creating new ones for daily utilize increasing internet security on all devices checking devices for spyware used to identify if your state has any laws specific to cyberstalking and online harassment

It is important to save any text messages, emails, voicemails, or letters for documentation purposes, and to keep in mind the possibility that blocking or attempting to block the stalker’s access to you could cause them to retaliate further. The stalker might maintain changing their telephone number or email address, or even make spam accounts to try to friend you on social media. If some of the above security scheming tips feel too extreme, you might decide to keep your old telephone number active but let their calls go straight to voicemail and not answer bellows from unknown numbers, or you could keep your old email address but not respond to any of the emails they send.

Whatever you choose to include or not include in your safety scheme, it is important to remember that you do not owe this abusive person a response. After you’ve initially asked them to stop contacting you, it is typically safer to not respond to them. It is unlikely that you will be able to convince them to stop stalking you by telling them to stop repeatedly, as stalking is about gaining power and control over you. If the stalker promises to stop contacting you if you meet with them to talk in person, that is likely his efforts to put you in a vulnerable position so they can use other abusive tactics against you. Threats against your family and friends are similarly entailed as emotional blackmail to convince you to give the abuser more access to you. Acknowledging their behaviors with a reply to their harassment is likely to be taken by them as a sign these tactics are working, which could cause the abusive behavior to increase. It also increases the likelihood that you could be accused of collaborating with the abuser, weakening any legal example you have against them moving forward.

Remember, such a situation is not your defect! Abusive someones are known to be charismatic and manipulative. Once you’ve communicated your borders and asked them to cease contact, you do not owe them further communication, and its generally best to end contact altogether and take steps to keep yourself safe from them.

What if you’ve tried all these tips-off and nothing is working? Other creative security planning tips include:

maintaining the draperies/ shades in your home closed all the time, or making a habit of turning on random suns in different parts of the home at different times of day( or installing a timer on existing lamps ), so that lights being on are not an indication of when you are home putting a sign with the name of a security system visible in your yard or a window apprise neighborhood watch or your homeowner’s association about the situation( if you don’t feel comfortable being public about the stalking, mention that you have assured a “suspicious person” frequenting the area and dedicate a physical description of the stalker) sharing the make/ model/ license plate number of any vehicles you know the stalker employs with anyone you have notified about the stalking, both so they will also be able to document and so they can reach out to warn you if they consider the stalker asking your landowner or neighbour to stop by the property at random hours to “check” on it asking your bank and doctor’s office to password protect your information and account dedicating a trusted friend a key and ask them to stop by haphazardly to “water your plants” or “feed your pet” which increases the likelihood of catching the stalker in action getting a dog that barks to deter the stalker from coming near your home putting buzzers or chimes on all your windows and doors asking co-workers to screen your calls and help you keep a sentry for the stalker adding encrypted passwords to your telephone and email getting new devices( telephone, computer, etc .) altogether, if you’re concerned spyware has been installed asking the police to send an officer to patrol the neighborhood at a time the stalker often comes by, if any pattern can be discovered( call 9-1-1 and devote an anonymous tip-off of a suspicious person in your region if you don’t want to or cannot divulge the abuse formally to the authorities)

If you think you are a victim of stalking and need security planning assistance, do not hesitate to call 1-800-799-7233 or online chat with an advocate about further the possibilities and support. You deserve to live a life free from abuse and dread. We are here to support you 24/7!

The post Stalking Safety Planning seemed first on The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Read more: thehotline.org

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