Stalking: means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
Common Reactions to Stalking
If you are a victim of stalking you might:
- Feel Fear of what the stalker will do
- Feel vulnerable, unsafe, and not know who to trust
- Feel anxious, irritable, impatient, or on edge
- Feel depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, fearful or angry
- Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping or remembering things.
- Have eating problems, such as appetite loss, forgetting to eat, overeating
- Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings or memories
- Feel confused, frustrated or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid
What does Stalking Look Like
Stalking Behaviors Can Include
- Damaging your property.
- Showing up at places you go.
- Sending mail, email, texts and pictures.
- Creating a website about you.
- Sending gifts.
- Stealing things that belong to you.
- Calling you repeatedly
- Any other actions that the stalker takes to contact, harass, track or frighten you.
Stalking Is Not Harmless
You can be stalked by someone you know casually, a current boyfriend or girlfriend, someone you dated in the past or a stranger. Getting notes and gifts at your home, on your car or other places might seem sweet and harmless to other people. But if you don’t want the gifts, phone calls, messages, letters or e-mails, it doesn’t feel sweet or harmless. It can be scary and frustrating.
Stalking In Relationships
Sometimes people stalk their boyfriends or girlfriends while they’re dating. They check up on them, text or call them all the time, expect instant responses, follow them, use GPS to secretly monitor them and generally keep track of them, even when they haven’t made plans to be together. These stalking behaviors can be part of an abusive relationship. If this is happening to you or someone you know, you should talk to a trusted person.
Stalking Is A Crime In California
Stalking is a crime and can be dangerous. California Penal Code section 646.9, in part, states, “Any person who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking…..”
How You Can Help Yourself
Think about ways you can be safer. This means thinking about what to do, where to go for help and who to call ahead of time:
- Where can you go for help?
- Who can you call?
- Who will help you?
- How will you escape a violent situation?
What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Stalking
- Trust Your Instincts – Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take Threats Seriously – Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship. The following resources can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.
- Palomar College Police Department – 760-891-7273
- San Diego Sheriff’s Department – 858-565-5200
- Escondido Police Department – 760-839-4722
- Stalking Resource Center – https://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center
- Develop A Safety Plan – Include things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you. Click here to learn more about safety plans.
- Don’t Communicate With The Stalker – Don’t or respond if the stalker attempts to contact you.
- Keep Evidence Of The Stalking – When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw.
- Contact The Police – Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
- Tell People About The Stalking – Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety
Additional Safety Strategies
- In an emergency, call 911, Palomar College Police Department (PCPD) 760-891-7273, or the local police department.
- Let friends or family members know when you are afraid or need help.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you find a way to get out of a bad situation.
- Avoid isolated areas.
- Avoid putting headphones in both ears so you can be more aware of your surroundings.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, remove yourself.
- Vary your routine, your driving routes and where you park your car.
- When you go out, tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back.
- Memorize the phone numbers of people to contact or places to go in an emergency.
- Don’t load yourself down with packages or bags restricting your movement.
- Keep your cell phone handy; check to see that you have reception and that your cell phone is charged.
- Have money for a cab or other transportation.
- Save notes, letters or other items that the stalker sends to you. Keep a record of all contact that the stalker has with you; these items will be very useful in an investigation.