How to Get Rid of a Stalker

Seven Parts:Clarifying your positionKeeping a recordDistancing yourselfLetting others knowProtecting your privacyImproving your safetyRestraining orders

If you have have a former romantic partner, an acquaintance or even a stranger repeatedly following you, turning up unexpectedly in numerous places, sending copious and/or offensive texts or e-mails, leaving threatening and/or abusive phone or online messages, etc, then you may be the focus of stalking behavior. A stalker is an individual who repeatedly negates requests to discontinue contact, repeatedly engages in unwanted, unwarranted, intrusive and threatening behavior. Here are some considerations to keep in mind to keep yourself safe and to address the situation.

Part 1
Clarifying your position

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    Always state romantic or social rejections clearly. Responding with comments such as, "I'm not interested in a relationship/being friends with you at this time," or "I'm dating someone else," can lead a person to believe that you would date or be friends with them, if the timing were right or if they keep pressing the issue. Simply state you are no longer interested in pursuing a friendship with them. Then hang up or leave.
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    Do not continue friendships or relationships with individuals who negate your feelings of discomfort (whatever the cause) or requests to not be contacted by them.
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    Warn the offender clearly. Tell the stalker in as few words as possible that they are not to contact you. "Do not contact me again." Do not engage in lengthy dialogue or apologetics with the suspected stalker. Never respond to any of the suspected stalker's contacts again. Your goal is to inform the stalker that their actions are harassment and warn them never to make contact with you from that point on. What you say must be credible. There may be a chance that the offender may cease and desist. Later record how and when you gave the warning along with any future incidents.
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    Ignore and do not respond to further attempted interactions. Your stalker may try to deliberately rile you by making provocative comments if he or she gets close enough to you or uses messages to do so. Any response, even a negative one only feeds into the stalker's belief that he/she is getting to you. Be strong and keep walking or refuse to press that recall button. Do not press reply. Just ignore the comments - otherwise, you are adding fuel to the fire. If the stalker is an ex, it may help to read How to end a controlling or manipulative relationship.
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    Never attempt to reason with or appease a stalker. This only reinforces his/her belief that his or her tactics are working.

Part 2
Keeping a record

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    Keep a record of incidents. This may include letters, phone messages, emails, lurking, or any contact the stalker has attempted to make. Record the date when each contact occurred, and keep this record in a safe place. If possible, make copies and give them to a trusted relative or friend, or place them in a safety deposit box. This can be used as evidence if you need to consult the police.
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    Consider having an account and a safety deposit box at a bank that you do not regularly patronize. Use this to keep copies of all documents pertaining to the stalking behavior. Also include important personal and financial papers, passport, social security and insurance information, and other vital information that you can access in the event of an emergency.
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    Consider getting your (and your children, if you have any) fingerprints and DNA profile, in case you need identifying information for a criminal investigation. Place this information in your safety deposit box or another secure location.

Part 3
Distancing yourself

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    Use distance to protect yourself. If you suspect you may be being stalked, keep a significant distance between you and the suspected stalker. Note that you do not have to have proof someone is a stalker to protect yourself in this way, only a suspicion. Wearing reasonable footwear will enable you to move away from a suspected stalker most quickly and will reduce the likelihood of tripping or falling. Try to be at least 25 yards (22.9 m) or meters away from the suspect. Even ten feet may protect you from being abducted or attacked if that distance is maintained.
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    Always keep a cell phone on you, if possible. A phone that can record images and conversation is a plus.
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    Keep emergency numbers on your cell phone and in different parts of your residence, as well as your vehicle.

Part 4
Letting others know

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    Notify everyone about your situation and the identity of your stalker, if known. Stalkers thrive on secrecy and privacy. Notify your family, friends, neighbors and employers to not to give out your personal information, regardless of the innocuousness of the request or the identity of the questioner. Notify everyone to be cautious of any individual loitering around your neighborhood or place or employment or attempting to gain access to your workplace.
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    At your workplace, have your phone calls screened, and do not open envelopes whose return address you do not recognize. Do not open unexpected packages. Never open anonymous mail.

Part 5
Protecting your privacy

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    Change your contact information, including e-mail addresses and phone numbers. This will make it much harder for your stalker to leave messages for you.
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    Another option is to get a new phone number and email, only give it to trusted individuals, and allow your current phone and email account to record messages from your stalker. For a non-violent stalker, the ability to leave messages may make them content not to attempt any real life interactions. You can use these messages as evidence, if you decide to pursue legal action. If you feel uncomfortable listening to or reading the messages, have a trusted friend or family member screen and record them.
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    Keep your mail private. Get a P.O. box if you are concerned that someone could easily gain access to your private information.
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    Set up a password or photo ID system on all of your accounts (bank card, utilities, etc.)
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    Read and follow How to avoid being stalked on social media. Following these steps will prevent the stalker from spying on you and figuring out where you are and what you're doing. Be sure to set all of your social networking website information to "private" and make all attempts to block the stalker from accessing your information.
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    Remove your details (name, phone number and address) from the phone directory. Contact your phone company and ask for them to make your number and details private. Google search yourself on the internet to see if there is anything you have missed. Also ensure your Facebook privacy settings are set to 'friends only' and that the settings are not public; if in doubt, have someone you trust check for you. Refrain from mentioning your itinerary on social media. Use fake names for Skype, IM and other accounts where people can search for you and call or chat with you.

Part 6
Improving your safety

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    Make home safety a priority. Install more secure door locks, a stronger door and a peep hole on your door. Make your windows and doors more burglar proof. Install security lights and a security system. Put your indoor lights on a timer system. A dog (or even a 'beware of dog sign') is a deterrent to home invasions. Ask police to do regular check ups of your property.
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    If you live in an apartment or condominium, have a residence on the second floor or above, if possible. Question management about it's security policies and make sure that there is not a listing of tenants easily accessible to the public.
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    Move out temporarily. If you feel that your home is being watched, stay somewhere else, such as your parents' home, the home of other relatives or with friends. If you are living away from family and have not yet made solid friendships in your new town, seek advice from a campus counselor or from the local police as to some respite alternatives or to request some additional check-ups on your property.
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    If you must move, try to be as under the radar as possible. Rent a moving van that does not have company logos, as a stalker could possibly contact that company in order to gain information about you. You can also move your possessions into a storage facility that is under a P.O. box address or the name of a third party, until you feel safe to claim them.
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    Try to avoid being alone, if you can. A stalker is more likely to lose interest if they see that you always have company.
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    Avoid adhering to a general schedule as much as possible. Do not go to the same gas station, restaurant or grocery store and do not go at the same times. If you exercise, do so at different times and on varying routes, or join a members only gym. Take your safety seriously and be responsible about your safety needs. Think ahead and be conscious of everything around you at all times. It may also help to read How to Thwart an Abduction Attempt.
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    If you have children, make sure that they are always accompanied to and from school and activities. Notify your children's school(s) not to give out any of your information, and provide them a list of individuals who are allowed to pick up your children. Ask staff to request that anyone on that list provide photo ID to validate their identity. If you cannot pick up your children, contact the school to let them know exactly who will be picking them up. If necessary, ensure that your children and anyone you trust to pick them up knows a "secret word." If the person who comes for the children does not know the secret word when asked (by the children), then they do not go with him/her.
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    Secure and protect your pet(s). Some stalkers, if they are unable to gain access to you, will target your animals. Do not leave pets outside unattended (even in a fenced in yard), and do not have pet doors. Have contact information for animal boarding homes and no-kill shelters, in case of an emergency if you are unable to take proper care of your pet(s).
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    Avoid contact with family, friends and other associates of the stalker. Unfortunately, these individuals may willingly or unknowingly provide information about you to the stalker, such as new addresses or contact information.
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    Be confident. This means maintaining an air of self-assurance, holding your head high and walking tall and with purpose. Stalkers are more likely to continue when they see fear reflected in your body language - so watch this carefully and keep your body reactions slow, measured and calm.
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    Seek help. Research online or contact your local police department for references to stalking hotlines/counselors. If you are at school, go and see a teacher, a counselor or the principal immediately and explain the situation. If you are at university or college, seek assistance from campus security or a counselor. You also may wish to consider going straight to the police and reporting the incident(s) and having a report drawn up. It will at least allow you to explore your legal options and obtain some advice on how to act next.
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    Prepare an emergency plan, that you can easily utilize in case of a break in or an attack. You must have a plan in place that allows you to protect yourself as much as possible. Have a safe place where all family members can arrange to meet in event of an emergency (the location only being known to a very trusted relative or friend). At this safe location, have needed supplies in a 'flight kit' (money, clothing, medication etc.), as well as emergency numbers for police, legal assistance, and abuse/stalking assistance.
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    If you were previously domestically involved with your stalker, try to avoid the following: legal mediation, joint therapy, shared custody of children, face-to-face child exchanges. If you are obligated to come face to face with the stalker (at a court hearing) safeguard yourself as much as possible. In the days prior to and especially following an obligated public meeting, be extra vigilant of your surroundings and safety.
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    Consider carrying pepper spray. Carry it in a proper manner and familiarize yourself with how it is used. Only consider carrying a firearm if you have proper training in their use and are in compliance with your state's firearm laws. Keep in mind that any weapon that you carry could be used against you during an attack. This is a subject that you should discuss with law enforcement and an abuse/stalking counselor.

Part 7
Restraining orders

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    Discuss with police and abuse/stalking counselors the possibility of obtaining a temporary restraining order (TRO) or protective order (OOP). Keep in mind that a TRO or an Order or Protection is to initiate and assist the legal process -- it can not physically protect you from a stalker who is inclined towards violence. You must be responsible for your safety even with a TRO or OP in place. Always carry on your person two copies of the TRO or OOP that was issued, so that you can easily provide one to police and the stalker can not falsely claim to police that he/she wasn't aware of the TRO or OOP. Non violent and violent stalkers react differently to TROs and OPs, as do those stalkers who have had prior romantic/sexual involvement with their victims. Based on your history with the stalker and the pattern of behavior he/she has been demonstrating towards you, research TROs to decide whether it will assist you in your situation or not. An abuse/stalking counselor or victim's advocate may better assist you in determining what the best options for your situation are.

Tips

  • Don't be afraid to solicit assistance from police - stalking is a crime. Research stalking laws in your state and be informed of your rights.
  • Don't be shamed into accepting stalking behavior as normal, a result of your own supposed paranoia or claims that "it's just the internet". Stalking and harassment is not a normal, healthy response to social or romantic rejection.
  • Discuss your situation with a counselor experienced in stalking and/or domestic violence (the latter most especially if your stalker is a ex partner). Explore your options and decide what is the best course for your situation.
  • Take care of both your emotional and physical well being. Eat nutritiously, exercise, get proper sleep, try to direct your energy towards hobbies that decrease your stress.
  • Remember that the stalker alone is responsible for his/her own actions -- not you.

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