Power Through Partnership…
Taking Back Control of Your Life
This booklet will provide you with some practical guidance, including information to help you deal with a situation you may have previously thought was controlling your life. It will help you realize you are not alone; that there are countless resources available to you, just for the asking. However, the contents are by no means all-inclusive.
As a victim of stalking, you certainly realize that it is not only your life that is being impacted, but your family, friends, and/or co-workers as well. Therefore, relevant information contained herein should be shared with all concerned parties.
You may or may not have experienced some frustration in the past with the response from the police, or other agencies you have contacted, to help you with your situation. Hopefully, that frustration will shortly be alleviated. Herein lies the “Power Through Partnership” aspect of taking back control of your life. However, for proper management of your case, it is extremely important that you cooperate fully with the police, the detective assigned to your case, and any subsequent judicial proceedings along the way.
This booklet is meant to educate you in understanding the dynamics of stalking, as well as providing some common behavioral modifications that will assist in your case management.
WHAT IS STALKING?
According to California Penal Code Section 646.9, a stalker is “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family and made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat.”
Simply speaking, stalking involves one person’s obsessive behavior toward another person, causing that victim to fear for his/her safety. The stalker usually begins his stalking behavior with annoying, threatening, or obscene telephone calls or written communications. The stalker may ultimately follow the victim of his obsession, often staking out the victim’s home and/or workplace.
WHO CAN BECOME THE TARGET OF A STALKER?
Anyone. Targets, as well as stalkers, traverse all economic, ethnic, and religious boundaries. The stalker’s actions rarely affect only the target. Family, friends, and co-workers are also impacted. A victim can be stalked from several days to many years.
A few victims are picked at random by their stalker, but most stalking victims know their stalker, usually having had some type of past or present relationship. These are often referred to as Domestic Violence Stalkers. Although we often hear of celebrities who are being stalked, they constitute less than 15% of reported stalking victims, and involves a different type of stalker than most. Domestic Violence Stalkers are far and above the most dangerous and lethal type of stalker.
What Should a Stalked Victim Do?
- Get a restraining order. Keep a copy with you at all times.
- Do your best to safely avoid all contact with the stalker.
- Inform family, friends, and co-workers of what is going on in regard to the stalking.
- Report the stalking to the police in your area and follow their advice.
- Keep an accurate journal or log of all incidents connected to the stalking.
- Keep all letters, packages, taped telephone messages, etc…received from the stalker.
The following are some suggestions on how you can enhance your security arrangements:
- Be alert for any suspicious person.
- Positively identify callers before opening doors. Install a wide angle viewer in all primary doors.
- Install a porch light at a height which would discourage removal.
- Install dead bolts on all outside doors. If you cannot account for all keys, change door locks. Secure spare keys. Place a dowel in sliding glass doors and all sliding windows. Engage these locking devices without fail when leaving the residence for any period of time, as well as when household members are at home.
- Keep garage doors locked at all times. Use an electric garage door lock.
- Install adequate outside lighting.
- Trim shrubbery. Install locks on fence gates.
- Keep fuse box locked. Have battery lanterns in residence.
- Install loud exterior alarm bell that can be manually activated in more than one location.
- Maintain an unlisted telephone number. Alert household members to unusual and wrong number calls. If such activity continues, notify local law enforcement agency.
- Any written or telephone threat should be treated as legitimate, and must be checked out. Notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.
- All adult members of the household should be trained in the use of any firearm kept for protection. It should be stored out of the reach of children.
- Household staff should have a security check prior to employment and should be thoroughly briefed on security precautions. Strictly enforce a policy of the staff not discussing family matters or movement with anyone.Be alert for any unusual packages, boxes or devices found on the premises. Do not disturb such object, instead call the authorities.
- Maintain all-purpose fire extinguishers in the residence and in the garage. Install a smoke detector system.
- Tape emergency numbers on all phones.
- When away from the residence for the evening, place lights and radio/TV on a timer.
- Prepare an evacuation plan. Brief household members on the plan procedures and test them periodically. Provide ladders or rope for two-story residences.
- A family dog is one of the least expensive, but most effective, alarm systems.
- Know the whereabouts of all family members at all times.
- Children should be accompanied to school or bus stops.
- Routes taken, and time spent walking should be varied.
- Require identification of all repairmen and salesmen prior to permitting them entry into the residence.
- Inform a trusted neighbor regarding the situation. Provide the neighbor with a photo and good description of the suspect and any possible vehicles.
- Inform trusted neighbors of any anticipated vacations, business trips, etc. and arrange for them to pick up mail, papers, etc.…
- If residing in a complex with on-site manager, provide the manager with a photo of the suspect. If in secured building, provide information to the doorman or valet.
- Central reception should handle visitors and packages.
- Office staff should be alerted of suspicious people, parcels, and packages that do not belong in the area.
- Establish key and lock control. If keys possessed by terminated employees are not retrieved, change the locks.
- Park in secured area if available.
- Have your name removed from any reserved parking area.
- If there is an on-site security director, make him/her aware of the situation. Provide him/her with suspect photo and information.
- Have a secretary of co-worker screen calls if necessary.
- Be aware of anyone possibly following you to/from work.
- Do not accept any package unless you personally ordered the item.
- Park vehicles in well-lit areas. Do not patronize parking lots where car doors must be left unlocked and keys surrendered; otherwise surrender only the ignition key. Allow items to be placed in, or removed from the trunk only by your presence.
- When parked in the residence garage, turn the garage light on and lock the vehicle and garage door.
- Equip the gas tank with a locking gas cap. The hook-locking device should be controlled from inside the vehicle.
- Visually check the front and rear passenger compartments before entering the vehicle.
- Select a reliable service station for vehicle service.
- Keep doors locked while vehicle is in use.
- Be alert for vehicles that appear to be following you.
- When traveling by vehicle, plan ahead. Know the locations of police stations, fire stations, and busy shopping centers.
- Always park in a secured garage when possible.
- Remove home address on personal checks and business cards.
- Utilize a private mailbox service to receive all personal mail.
- Place real property in a trust, and list utilities under the name of the trust.
- File for confidential voter status or register to vote utilizing mailbox address.
- Destroy discarded mail.
- Telephone lines can be installed in a location other than the person’s residence and call-forwarded to the residence.
- Place residence rental agreements in another person’s name.
- The person’s name should not appear on service or delivery orders to the residence.
- Do not obtain a mailbox with the United States Post Office.
- Mailbox address now becomes the person’s official address on all records and in all rolodexes. It may be necessary or more convenient to list the mailbox as “Suite 123” or “Apartment 123”, rather than “Box 123.”
- File a change of address card with the U.S. Post Office giving the mailbox address as the person’s new address.
- Send postcard to friends, businesses, etc. giving the mailbox address, and requesting that they remove the old address from their files and rolodexes.
- All current creditors should be given a change of address card to the mailbox address. (Some credit reporting agencies will remove past addresses from credit histories if a report is made. We recommend this be done.)
- File a change of address with DMV to reflect the person’s new mailbox address. Get a new driver’s license with the new address on it.