When I hear the word “stalker,” the first thing that comes to mind is the character actress Brooke Shields played in the chilling television movie “Stalking Laura.” I was shocked to learn later that the movie that scared me half out of my wits was based on the life story of Laura Black, a young aspiring engineer who was aggressively stalked over a period spanning four years by her colleague Richard Farely.
Although being stalked or harassed can be terrifying, you have the power and the means to protect yourself. One of the most important things to remember is that the stalker’s behavior is not your fault and that you deserve to be protected from such behavior.
10 practical steps to protect yourself from a stalker:
- Hire an attorney and let him or her know immediately what is going on. Talk with your lawyer about the best course of legal action to take.
- Carry your cell phone with you at all times. A smartphone that can record both audio and video is useful.
- Get caller ID and an unlisted telephone number.
- Tell your friends, family, neighbors, landlord, and coworkers what has been happening, and show them a picture of the stalker. The more people know about your situation, the more eyes and ears are watching out for you.
- Keep all texts and e-mail messages, as well as any other relevant physical evidence, such as letters and gifts from the person and photos of property damage. Obtain and record the names and phone numbers of people who witness any harassing behavior.
- Keep the doors and windows to your house and your vehicles locked at all times and install security systems at home and on your vehicles.
- Park your vehicle in well-lit, heavily-trafficked areas.
- Consider deleting any social networking sites to which you belong. Social media platforms provide a stalker easy access to your personal information. If you do not want to delete your social media accounts, set up your profiles so that only those you trust can see your personal information and posts.
- File a petition for a restraining order against the person. This process is typically very simple and can be handled with or without an attorney.
- Sign up for self-defense classes that will teach you the basic techniques of fending off the stalker should they approach you or become physically violent towards you.