If You Are Being Stalked

being stalked in an alley
Patrik Nygren/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

If you suspect that you're being stalked, you should report all contacts and incidents to local law enforcement, according to the Office for Victims of Crime.

The brochure "Stalking Victimization" from the U.S. Department of Justice OVC, gives the following tips for those who are being stalked:

To make arrest and prosecution more likely, stalking victims should document every incident as thoroughly as possible, including collecting/keeping videotapes, audiotapes, phone answering machine messages, photos of property damage, letters received, objects left, affidavits from eyewitnesses, and notes. Experts also recommend victims keep a journal to document all incidents, including the time, date, and other relevant information for each.

Regardless of how much evidence you've gathered, file a complaint with law enforcement as soon as possible.

You Are Not to Blame

As a result of the stalking, you may experience a variety of physical, emotional, and financial consequences. The emotional trauma of constantly being on alert for the stalker, or the next harassment, may seem to use up all the energy you have.

You may feel vulnerable and out of control of your life. You may have nightmares. Your eating and sleeping habits may change. You may feel depressed or hopeless and lack interest in things you once enjoyed. This is not unusual.

The constant stress in stalking situations is very real and harmful. Realize that what is happening to you is not normal, not your fault, and not caused by anything you have done.

Where Can You Get Help?

As a stalking victim, you are not alone. Do not lose hope. The support network in your community may include hotlines, counseling services, and support groups. Trained victim advocates can provide vital information and a full range of support services, such as assistance through the criminal justice process and assistance with ​finding out about your rights as a stalking victim.

You may be able to obtain a restraining order or a "no-contact" order through the clerk of court. These are court orders signed by a judge telling the stalker to stay away from you and not to have contact with you in person or by phone. It is not necessary for a civil or criminal domestic violence case to be filed for these orders to be issued.

Most states authorize law enforcement to make an arrest for violation of such an order. Each jurisdiction and community may differ in the type of restraining order available and the process for application and issuance of orders. Local victim advocates can tell you how the process works in your community.

All states now have crime victim compensation programs that reimburse victims for certain out-of-pocket expenses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial needs considered reasonable.

To be eligible, you must report the crime to the police and cooperate with the criminal justice system. Victim assistance programs in your community can provide you with compensation applications and additional information.

Source: Office for the Victims of Crime