Do's and Don'ts of Outmaneuvering a Stalker ..By: Lou Bishop

Though the once popular 1983 single by the Police -- “Every Breath You Take” -- may sound romantic, upon closer examination one soon discovers that it describes the motivations of a stalker.  Decidedly unromantic!   According to The National Center For the Victims of Crime, ”1 out of every 12 women will be stalked during her lifetime.”  The National Violence Against Women Survey (US Department of Justice, 1998) states that “one in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime. ”  Furthermore, according to NVAWS, an “estimated 87% of stalkers are male, who are much more likely to become violent, though female stalkers have also murdered victims.  Most stalkers know their victims….”


What is Stalking?

 “Most statutes define stalking as wilful, malicious and repeated harassment.  An imminent, credible threat of violence must be made against the victim for the activity to be considered stalking in many jurisdictions.  Many American states deem the intent to instill fear to be unlawful, with most defining criminal stalking as an activity that would instill fear in a reasonable person.  (”

Stalking can involve an intention to acquire private information/objects.  It is noteworthy that the ease with which stalkers can gather information has been aided by the Internet, thus the new psychiatric legal term:  “cyberstalking.”


Who are these Stalkers Anyway?

Stalking may run the gamut of psychiatric and personality disorders and most researchers, including, Dr. Kienlen, a contributor to the book. Stalkers articulate that,  “There is no single profile of stalkers who exhibit a broad range of behaviors, motivations and psychological traits.” 

Stalkers may include:  former boyfriends/girlfriends and husbands/wives; disgruntled employees and business associates; casual acquaintances; vengeful neighbors; even total strangers.  Clearly anyone can become a victim.


What Can You Do?

 Below are a few guidelines, most of which are gleaned from an (August 25, 1998) New York Times article, by Jane E. Brody. 


BE FIRM!   Dr. Doris M. Hall, (an expert on criminology at California State University at Bakersfield) who questioned 145 victims of stalkers (83 percent of them women)  recommends firmness: "Once and only once, tell the person you want nothing to do with him.  Don't try to be nice; it can only work against you.  If someone's behavior seems out of line, if it is making you uncomfortable, something's up," she said.  "You have a better chance of putting a stop to it if you don't give it a chance to accelerate."


 “ PROTECT YOURSELF!  Under the auspices of the University of California at San Diego, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has developed a list of tips for self-protection against stalkers. While specific legal advice is likely to vary from state to state, the clearinghouse's practical advice can apply anywhere. Among the most important tips are these:

Take Action.  Tell people what’s happening (even if you did go out with the stalker at one time).  Don’t let embarrassment deter you from being open about a potentially violent outcome. 
Keep your address private.  It’s a good idea to use a postal box instead of a residential address on everything, including your driver's license and government documents.  Do not give out your telephone number.   Get an unpublished and unlisted phone number.  Never print your number on checks. 

Guard your E-mail.  Be sure that your E-mail address is something that is hard to guess if you are at risk of being cyber-stalked. 

Keep a diary.  AKA as a Stalking Incident and Behavior Log .  It is important to record every stalking incident and the names, dates and times of every contact with the authorities.  It may be necessary to save the tapes of phone messages.   Please note that this information could be introduced as evidence shared with the stalker at any time in the future.  Therefore, it is important not to include anything that you don’t want the offender to see. 

Upgrade the Security in your Home.   Install a security system.  Have a exterior alarm and /or motion-sensitive light installed.  Be sure to always lock your doors with dead-bolt locks and use window locks on basement and ground-floor windows. 
BE AWARE of the locations of the police and fire departments and busy shopping centers.  in the event that you are being followed, locate one of these immediately.  When you arrive, stay in the car and blow the horn to attract attention.  Vary your schedule and your route when traveling to and from work. 

If Necessary File a Restraining order.   If the stalker is a stranger, you can file a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO), which is used when you don't have a significant or legal relationship with the other person.  This will be reviewed by a judge and if granted will mean that every incident of stalking is considered a violation of the order and is a crime.

Stay in company of other people.  Develop a posse!  If anything goes down, you’ll have witnesses!  Statistics show that you are safer in a group.

Show NO Fear!
This could save your life as stalkers often enjoy causing fear. 

63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)

Brody, Jane E.. " Do’s and Don’ts for Thwarting Stalkers," 25 August, 1998,

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Do's and Don'ts of Outmaneuvering a Stalker