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Tips from the Stalked for the Stalked....

*Disclaimer: This information is intended for suggestive purposes only and is not to be construed as a substitute for organized safety planning with a counselor who specializes in victim's rights, etc.!

The listing below contains several suggestions I would give to the stalking victim. The vast majority of these are either taken directly from my own experience or from advice given to me when I discussed safety planning issues with a counselor from the D.A.'s office.

On Telephone Harassment

1. Aquire a second phone line at your residence if you can afford it. Let your stalker continue to telephone your original phone line and start giving others (your employers, your friends, family) your second line. Either keep an answering machine on the original line or keep it disconnected. When stalkers feel that they have lost touch with their victims, they tend to show up.

2. Call your telephone company and ask about obtaining a priority ringing service. By doing this, you might be able to avoid having to change your telephone number. If known, program your stalker's home telephone numbers with the service (or any numbers you feel they are likely to call from and know of) and when he/she calls to harass you from either of those numbers you will be alerted to the identity of the caller by a distinctive ring. (*note: if your stalker is calling from a payphone or later catches on and begins to, a priority ring will not help) This allows for you to have some peace of mind when you answer the telephone and also is very useful for reporting annoying telephone calls to the telephone company's annoyance center. This is also preferable to call blocking, as call blocking might incite the stalker into some form of undesired action.

3. Make a police report about harassing telephone calls the moment they start. You can then ask your local law enforcement about obtaining a phone trap. In generally all cases, you are required to have a police report to accompany your request when you call your telephone company, so the police report is necessary. The phone trap works like this: when the harassing call comes through, jot down the exact time (within three minutes grace period) of the call. Keep a notebook and small clock by the telephone for convenience. At the end of the day give the telephone company all the times of the applicable incoming calls. If you notice a lot of harassing behavior left on your answering machine, get an answering machine with a time stamp on it (so you can record the time of the incoming calls when you are away so you may later report them ) and a taped rather than a digital recording system to it. It is imperative to keep all harassing activity recorded, labeled and carefully kept in a safe place so that it can later be booked into evidence as needed.

4. Another option which counters telephone harassment is to obtain a caller I.D. box and get blocking (through your phone company) for all incoming calls which do not identify the calling number on the box. An unlisted party trying to reach you can usually elect to unblock their number using a prompt, so friends and family can still reach you if their number is unlisted. However, this option can prevent law enforcement offices and the District Attorney's office from being able to reach you, as their numbers will not show up. Also, if an important call is coming through to you from a pay phone, in most instances, you will miss the call. I personally do not suggest this option, however others might deem it appropriate for their personal situation.

General Safety Planning Ideas

1. Get a restraining order! I cannot emphasize this enough. There is some crap I've seen on the web lately on other resource sites which suggests not to obtain a restraining order as it "might incite the stalker." While it is true that obtaining a restraining order will not guarantee one ounce of true protection, once a restraining order is obtained law enforcement agencies and the D.A.'s office can begin to intervene with legal action. In my experience, obtaining a restraining order did incite my stalker, however it started the legal process against her.

2. Alert neighbors, employers, fellow employees, etc. to your situation. Give them as much information as you can about the stalker to include a photograph of him/her, information about their general m.o., make of their vehicle, etc. If you live in a college residence hall, apartment or some other form of community housing, give the manager/director of the community all possible information and ask them to address it at community meetings, post information on bulletin boards, etc. It is also a good idea to spread copies of your restraining order to people who live immediately close to you in case they need to call the police.

3. Ask a victim advocate at your county's D.A.'s office for information about a personal alarm that connects to 911. In Sacramento where my case was, I was able to obtain an Aware Alarm which was linked to 911 that I could wear around my neck when near to my residence. The people on the other end of the Aware Alarm had a detailed description of my stalker to forward to the responding units. If my stalker were to surprise me directly near my residence, I could have squeezed the alarm and summoned emergency units to the complex.

4. Many stalkers will start with pranks, things which they understand will be hard to be proved in connection with him/her directly. Get a locking gas cap at your local automotive store. These generally cost about $8-$12 and provide a lot of peace of mind. As for tire slashing, t.p.'ing, spray painting, property damaging etc- make immediate reports to law enforcement and give a copy of your restraining order and/or a full description of the suspect. Pranking is very typical among stalkers. Stalkers have a need to make their victims feel violated, fearful and frusterated. They need to perceive that they are in control.

5. Leave a t.v., radio, light, etc. on when leaving your residence. Many stalkers will break into one's residence while their victim is away in order to make them feel violated and fearful of them.

6. If you change addresses remember that your stalker can simply go to the DMV or the US Post Office and exchange your old information for your new information. Voter registration also will release your personal information upon request. To prevent this, I suggest looking under "mailboxes" in your local yellow pages and look for a place which offers mailbox rental services. There are many advantages to this over a p.o. box. A business which offers mailbox rentals generally gives you a street address (the address of the business) at which you receive your mail. This way you can have all your checks printed with this address (remember, even supermarkets now take that personal information off customer checks and sell it. Your info then hits the world wide web, certain 411 type listings, etc. I would also stress that all credit card bills, etc. go to this new address as creditors notoriously sell out your information!) You may also receive all mail at this address generally, to include UPS and other packages. This cuts down on having to use your protected new resident address for much. In fact, I would suggest not using your home address for anything at all. As soon as you obtain a box at such an establishment, put in a forwarding order immediately. Do not let on that your new personal mail box address is anything other than your home address. Companies will promise you privacy, however in most cases, it will be sold or otherwise distributed for marketing regardless of whether or not you have explained your situation.

7. Call the two major credit agencies immediately and have a red flag put on your credit report. Equifax: (800) 525-6285 and Experian: (888) 690-8086. Stalkers usually can obtain your social security number, mother's maiden name, etc. and will often pose as you with this information to obtain your credit information.

8. Research your stalker. Go to a private investigative service and have a background check run. Find out if other people have taken out restraining orders against that person. If so, how far were they apart from one another?

9. Research yourself on the net. If you type in your name on search engines, will any information show up? You can find backwards telephone listings on the net, unlisted phone numbers, personal addresses, etc.- what information is listed about you on the net? Find out . You can elect to submit or change any information about you on these information sites.

I am currently in the process of gathering further information regarding information and advice on cyber-stalking/cyber-stalkers. As of January 1, 1999 in the state of California, legislation was passed to include cyber-stalking in the penal code. It is a crime, just as offline stalking is. A man in Los Angeles County was prosecuted and charged earlier this year under California's new cyber-stalking legislation. For further information on cyber-stalking, check with Cyber Angels. This organization is one of the first of its kind in offering resources to victims specifically stalked via electronic means.

| It Happened to Me: My Story |Cyber-Stalking | Investigating E-mail Origins | Tips for the Stalked, From the Stalked | Stalkers and the Borderline Personality | Erotomania | Where to Turn for Help | LA County Cyber-Stalker Receives Verdict |
| Restraining Order Q&A | What Cyber-Stalkers Know About You | Am I Being Stalked? Signs That Could Save Your Life