By now, many of you have heard the tragic story of the young woman, Alissa Blanton, who was murdered by her stalker of two years.
Have you yourself heard statements like “I can’t live without you?” “If I can’t have you, no one else can?” “I’d die without you?” from men who claim to “love” you? Lines like this are portrayed in movies as “romantic.” This is not romantic, it’s serious and can be deadly. Once a woman is aware she is being harassed or stalked, she may find that she seems to have little recourse over this kind of behavior.
If you are experiecning abuse, harassment or stalkng right now, what can you do to protect yourself?
Seven tips on how to handle threats and/or stalking.
Please remember if you feel you are currently in danger, call 911 and get help! Do not attempt to handle a stalker alone!
1. Document: If you are not immenently in danger, document each instance of harassment and stalking. It is a shame but the reality is the burden falls on you to provide details of when, where, and how often. Keep copies of text messages, IM’s, emails, voicemails, notes, and take photos if you safely can. As much as you probably do not want to think about these things, the legal system demands evidence to back up your claim that you are being stalked.
2. Self-defense: Take a self-defense course. You can find courses through your local university or your local police deparment. In Orange County, Florida, some officers volunteer their time for free to teach women how to defend themselves.
3. Surround yourself with others: Once we reach adulthood, we enjoy the freedom to come and go as we please. If you are being stalked, it is a good idea for you to surround yourself with people you trust. Your family and friends need to know where you will be at all times.
4. Advocates: If you have already been abused or assalted, then you probably already have a Victim Advocate. There are also “Domestic Violence Advocates.” These people know the law and can assist you in knowing what your rights are. They are invaluable!
5. State Attorney General’s Office: Your state attorney general’s office can be a source of help and information. Florida’s Attorney General’s Office has available a Victim’s Compensation Fund which will cover a victim’s medical and counseling expenses up to $10,000. You can get help!
6. Retraining order/Order or protection: If you are in fear for your safety or in fear of your life, you can obtain a legal order requiring the stalker to stay a prescribed number of feet away from you. Having the order gives you more “teeth;” You must carry a copy of the order with you at all times, and if you stalker is near you, you can phone the police and they will remove him. Without an order, the police cannot remove him unless he is breaking the law. Remember: A protective order is a pie
ce of paper. You must continue to protect yourself at all times.
7. Counseling: Dealing with a stalker can be mentally exhausting. Please seek the assistance of a therapist who has dealt with domestic violence and stalking issues before. It is difficult for most people to understand the constant anxiety and hyper vigalence you must endure. Seek help from someone who understands this.
*Please note: for the purposes of this posting, victim is referred to a female and stalker referred to as male. This author recognizes that there are times when this is reversed. These same tips apply to either females or males.
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