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Direct from my desk – week 28

Unfortunately, there are some people out there who don’t like to take no for an answer.  This is more than the stereotypical puppy-love-yet-clueless-crush, this is out-and-out stalking.  If you do find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do to make the situation more tenable.  I can not stress enough getting local law enforcement involved!

  1. Start a file on the guy. On one sheet of paper, write down everything you know about the guy – name, address, phone number, place of work, frequent haunts, any and all details you have about him. Add photos if you have them.
  2. On another sheet of paper, start a contact log. Include dates, times and locations. Start with what’s happened previous (how you met the guy) and any previous contacts. It’s tedious but try to do them each separately rather than just a giant narrative. Update this log every time he contacts.
  3. Contact the police and schedule an appointment. Tell them the story, show them the file. They’ll probably say that they don’t have enough information to do anything about it yet. That’s okay – the point is to let the police know what’s going on. Ask them exactly what the laws are in your country/state/province so that you know when he crosses the line and if it is actionable. Get two of the officer’s business card – keep one in the file (I suggest stapling it to the inside front cover) and keep one on your fridge.
  4. If you have enough evidence, file for a restraining order. Be careful though – if he’s been violent in the past, this may set him off. You may want to go away for a few days when he’s served. A restraining order is pretty serious because it becomes part of the public record so it’s not to be entered into lightly.
  5. You should probably see a therapist as well. You may not realize it but it will start coloring all your interactions. It’s hard not to get a little paranoid.
  6. You’ll want to change all of your internet settings to high privacy and be careful about posting anything publicly (like on other peoples profiles).  Delete any profiles that you don’t need or use.
  7. Get a Post Office Box to have your mail sent to. This is also useful if you have a series of moves. Contact the utility companies and have them put your address on private.
  8. If he’s using the telephone to induce terror, you’ll want to change your phone number and let the phone company know what’s going on. They can start documenting the harassment and may eventually block his number. Give them the contact information for the police officer to forward the harassment record to him.
  9. It’s a hassle but change your phone number. Have a home phone number that you never give out and a cell phone that you give out to people to contact you.
  10. Vary your routines day-to-day. Don’t make anything a habit. Change your driving route to work. Don’t have a set appointment or day/time for anything. Don’t have a hang out. Be unpredictable. There is a difference between not letting him win and keeping yourself safe.  If you are going anywhere out of the ordinary (work, home, sister’s house), leave a map of your intended location on your computer screen along with the name and number of the person you’re meeting.
  11. Take a self-defense class. It will help you feel more empowered and less out-of-control.
  12. Evaluate your home and car for safety. Ask the landlord for small, inexpensive fixes like a deadbolt lock, peep hole, and locks for the windows.
  13. Have two friends and establish a safe call. A word you can say or text to them should he come after you physically. The friends should have instructions to call 911, they should know where the file is and who the officer on the case is.
  14. You’ll need to find something that helps keep you calm and feel safe. Being stalked is scary and when there’s a setback (like he finds out your new phone number) it can make you feel incredibly helpless. If you hasn’t read it already, The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker.
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