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Stalking can be a component of domestic violence, most often occurring after a survivor leaves an abusive partner. It’s another form of control by an abuser and can also be used as a way to intimidate a partner. However, anyone can be stalked. You may not even know your stalker very well, but are sure that you’re being stalked.
While getting an order of protection, or restraining order, against a stalker is a great place to start, there are other steps you should take to ensure your safety. These tips come from Safe Horizon, a New York domestic violence nonprofit and the largest victims’ services agency in the U.S.
- If you are a domestic violence survivor and enter a shelter, make sure not to divulge the location of the shelter to anyone. These shelters rely on their confidential locations to keep all survivors safe. Don’t text, email or call anyone with your location because your perpetrator could access that information and try to find you.
- Whether in a shelter or some other location, change your normal route that you take to go home on a regular basis. Try to vary your routine all together—if you go to the gym at 6 p.m. every day, try going in the morning instead. Don’t set up an easy pattern the stalker can follow.
- Rent a P.O. box to keep your address confidential. Put this on your mail, checks and any other forms that ask for your address.
- Save any packages, letters, messages or gifts your stalker sends you. They may be important evidence when you report your stalker to the police. Likewise, save all voicemails and texts from your stalker.
- Become familiar with 24-hour stores or other public, highly populated areas in your neighborhood. If you feel like you’re being followed, go to one of these and not to your home.
- Let your friends, family, neighbors and place of employment know that you are being stalked so that your stalker can not get information about you from them. If you have a photo of your stalker, share this at the places you most frequent, such as your workplace or gym.
- Do not hesitate to call 911 if you feel you’re in danger.
If you aren't sure whether someone is stalking you, here are common behaviors to watch for, says survivor, domestic violence activist and blogger Amy Thomson:
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- Shadowing your computer sessions
- Monitoring your email, either by force or by hacking into your account
- Auditing calls and texts on cell and home phones by comparing them against online call details
- Installing surveillance equipment in the home without your knowledge
- Having a third party watch you while your stalker is out of the house
- Having a third party watch/follow you while YOU are out of the house
- Repeated calls at work (despite your requests to call only with important things)
- Following you and watching you from a distance without your knowledge
- Repeated unnecessary visits to your place of work
- Calling you frequently to monitor your where-a-bouts
- Having you call every time you leave and arrive home, work, school, etc.
- Tracking you via GPS on your cell phone
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