Live-saving protocols to protect against stalkers

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400stalker-420x0-400x182When you think of someone being stalked, chances are that a celebrity or other famous figure comes to mind. So it may surprise you to learn that, according to recent studies, college and high school campuses are prime targets for stalkers. That’s right—some 20 percent of high school and college students, both male and female, have been victims of stalkings.

Many of the college and high school students don’t reveal this for various reasons to their parents, so if you have a child who is or will be in this age-range, it can definitely pay to discuss this with them. If you are a college or high school student, read on for key strategies on what to do if you are ever stalked.

Stalking is much more than being followed by a stranger—it can even be, at the most extreme end, deadly. According to one Department of Justice study, 10 percent of college-age stalking victims had their stalker attempt or force sexual contact, while the stalker threatened or attempted to hurt the victim in 15 percent of cases.

20 percent of high school and college students say they’ve been victimized by stalkers. Read the tips below to find out what to do if you’re being stalked.

Stalking can include many unsettling behaviors like telephone harassment, sending unwanted gifts, pursuing or surveillance. Stalkers have various reasons for their behaviors, but there is often an underlying psychological disorder or delusional motivation.

Researchers have discerned five major types of stalkers, and it helps to be aware of the characteristics:

The Rejected

o Results from broken relationships with friends, parents, coworkers, lovers

o Stalker seeks reconciliation and/or revenge

o Stalker often feels frustrated, angry, jealous and depressed

The Intimacy Seeker

o Stalker perceives victim as his/her true love and pursues an intimate relationship

o Stalker often has a delusional or other disorder including schizophrenia or mania and may hold morbid infatuations

The Incompetent

o Stalker is often intellectually and socially incompetent

o Desires intimacy with victim but lacks knowledge of courting rituals

o May have stalked others in the past

o Stalker may believe they are entitled to the victim but don’t typically feel the victim is attracted to them in return

The Resentful

o Stalker wants to frighten or distress the victim

o Stalker may feel an injustice has occurred against them and seek revenge

The Predatory

o Stalker enjoys the control and power of stalking a victim

o Stalker tries to learn about the victim and may mentally rehearse a plan of attack

o Is more likely than the other categories to have a history of sexual offenses

How Common is Stalking, Really?

“About 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 14 male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17.” (Source)

Many victims of stalking report feeling helpless, isolated, and confused, but it is important to keep in mind that “being stalked” Is not your fault. Stalkers can be anyone- a family member, a coworker, a classmate, or even someone that you have come into contact with online.

According to a study of 800 students, one out of five high school and college students have been victims of stalkings.

Linda Manning, director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt University, said, “As a general attitude, I think people are amazed when they hear how frequent this kind of situation is … so we (as a society) deny that it happens; we minimize its impact, and we sort of don’t want to know. And I think that’s the way in which we don’t do a very good job of addressing this.”

What to Do if You Are Being Stalked

Being stalked is a very frightening experience, and educating yourself on what to do if you become a victim is your best defense.

Stalking victims need all the added security they can get, and the Los Angeles Police Department says getting a dog is one of the most effective alarm systems out there.

Orders of protection issued by law enforcement, which legally prohibit stalkers from contacting their victims, are the first step victims should take, says Valerie Wynn, executive director of a center for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Nashville, Tenn.

If you are being stalked, it is important to keep a record of all stalking incidents and report to the police after each one. Setting boundaries and severing ties completely will make your message clear that you do not want to be stalked. Let others in your family and community know that you are being stalked. (Source)

CHEAP ALARM TIP
If you don’t have the money for an alarm, get the stickers that imply that you do have one, and security signs too if possible. These are available in most Hardware/Home stores. Put them on all doors and ground level windows, and the sign at the end of the driveway.

SECURITY ALARMS /STALKERS
There are few things more frightening or heart-stopping than an alarm going off, but especially when you are being stalked. You feel ‘this is it’ – there’s nowhere to go! Even if it rings into the police station, you’re thinking, it’s too late! Sometimes this is true, but usually a stalker is scared off by the alarm. The alarm can be used against you to terrify you, if the stalker is that type, or it can be some perverse warning by the stalker. They know you are on edge most of the time, and this just about puts you ‘over it’. Most stalkers don’t want to get caught though – an alarm is recommended if you can afford it.

Be SURE to opt for the ‘phone line cut’ service. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST VITAL LIFE-SAVING FEATURES YOU CAN HAVE, and is not that expensive. I don’t know if my stalker was completely surprised or actually trying to set off the alarm when he cut my phone lines, but — it worked, that’s all I care about. It sent a signal to the police even though my phone did not work.

ARREST AFTER AN ALARM SOUNDING / STALKERS
I’m not sure of the rules in all states, but in one state that I’m familiar with, even if you have already reported several stalking incidents AND death threats, if you don’t catch the person who set off the alarm, you can’t arrest the person you KNOW FOR SURE set it off. If they don’t see anyone, the police might just write it up as a ‘possible malfunction’, even if you heard someone outside [and find cigarette butts of the brand that they smoke]. Still, as long as the person flees, that is the main help. You won’t sleep well but at least you’ll know your alarm works. Your next thoughts should be about moving, quickly (another chapter for another day!)

BEST COMBO – A DOG AND AN ALARM
It is frightening, too, when a dog starts barking at 2 AM – and your outside motion-detector lights go on (of course you have these too, right?), but at least then you know whatever is making noise out there is less likely to come in – you can set the dog loose if you wish, or keep him/her in to protect you, and you have time to call 911 — if possible, on your digital cell phone that you keep by you at night.

The dog will usually bark long before ‘whatever’s out there’ is at the house, especially if you live in the country/suburbs. You’ll tell yourself it might just be a deer. But call 911 just in case. If it was a person who’s getting away and they see that the police do come (often a stalker will test the waters anyway), they are less likely to try it again. Don’t worry about ‘crying wolf’. It’s the police force’s job, and they’ll get to know your situation (and location) that way. They’ve seen enough to know that at some point it could be ‘the’ time.

The dog is helpful in more than one way. They offer protection, companionship and a natural alarm. They watch out when you aren’t looking. They watch over the kids. It’s the fastest warning of anyone’s presence on your property – sometimes even way down a long driveway or on the edge of your property! (When your alarm goes off, you know it’s either too late, or you’ll never catch them cause they’ll take off). If you have a dog and an alarm, you have a chance to call 911 before the alarm goes off – and maybe catch sight of the intruder before they see you. With a dog, that alarm probably won’t even go off. Dogs – big dogs – scare people!

If you have a dog that you feed outdoors, always wash out food/water dishes before offering it to the dog, especially if you have all been away from the house. (my dog was mysteriously violently ill once and I wonder…)

You don’t want a dog that is too friendly or you won’t have a watch dog. Conversely, if you have children, you do need to be CAREFUL that the dog is not too mean! You want a dog that will scare off potential intruders but not nip at the littler child who it does not consider ‘leader of the pack’.

GOOD WATCHDOG CHOICES

* Retrievers (keenly far-sighted, and excellent hearing, sense of smell)
* Shepherds
* Great Danes (terrifying size)
* Huskies, any wolf-like dog (these scare people and are quite loyal)
* Dobermans (if you do NOT have children)
* Personally I don’t choose little yipper dogs – they don’t scare anyone – but they are good early warning dogs, from what I hear. They might be the only choice in an apartment or with small children.

Where to get your dog:
* Pound
* ASPCA
* Police force or animal control officer
* Ads in local papers for pets ‘looking for a home’

CAN’T AFFORD/OWN OR KEEP A DOG?
Get a good tape recording of a dog barking and play it in the background of your answering machine, and from time to time if strangers come to the door. Use a ‘beware of dog’ sign anyway. Borrow a friend’s dog from time to time. There are also ‘security dogs’ – devices that sound like a barking dog when someone moves in front of them! – They are sold by companies that sell driveway alerts and other security devices. Leave bowls and dog toys on the porch.

PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS/DETECTIVES ARE EMPLOYED BY STALKERS
Detectives might be employed in cases where the stalker has a restraining order [and money] but needs to always know what you are doing, who is there, and get a good idea of your patterns and lifestyle for future use. Stalkers who are getting info on you intend to use it SOMEDAY.

For example: In 2010 in Massachusetts, where the woman opened a package from her stalker – and was blown up by the bomb it contained. It had been placed at her home when and where she usually gets her mail, and had her sister’s return address on it. That stalker had done his homework. He stalked her for years, but she’d recently gotten engaged – of course, he knew this too. She died from the blast of the package, but the stalker was caught because the return address had the same mistake on it that was in his address book. She told people she was afraid he would kill her and she had a restraining order on him, but she did not want to move or ‘change her lifestyle’.**

**You need to change your lifestyle if you are being stalked.

HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S A DETECTIVE?
(Get to know your neighbors!) Detectives at the household can be in many forms: some claim to be a religious missionary, or a salesperson [children’s books, unheard-of products, something that you REALLY LIKE that is not normally sold door-to-door], poll-taker, or random questionnaire taker. Some claim to be lost, looking for your neighbor – check up to see if that is so. (This happened to me – when I called my neighbor later to see if her friend ‘found her house ok’, she said “WHO?” I described the woman, and she said “I dont know anyone like that, and no one is expected here!.) They go to the home to try to get detailed info, and often photos of the house, vehicle, and anyone outside — you are not going to let ANY stranger IN, of course!. They tend to look around more than you think they need to (some though are subtle so don’t rely on this) and will sometimes check out your car, kids, any toys outside, a bit more than necessary. They might ask when you’ll be home again that would be a better time – DO NOT tell them when you WON’T be home.[I lived here for 11/2 years with no salesmen, religious fanatics, questionnaire-takers or salespeople EVER coming to my door – not one. When my ex found where I lived, suddenly I had two or three a week.]

Women can be detectives, as can older/retired people, or couples – one might look around while the other holds your attention. Don’t think it’s just single men in overcoats! Don’t be afraid to be rude – women are usually far too polite to strangers – even if it really IS a paper airplane book salesperson and your son happens to love paper airplanes, you don’t really care if you see that saleperson again, do you? Even if the person has an ID, it can be made on most computers nowadays so don’t let that fool you. If you don’t know them, get them out of there. You don’t NEED to be part of this heretofore unheard-of National drug and sex poll, do you?

Take note of what the person looks like. Get the licence plate and car description immediately. This is one time that you can usually do so. Then, report the person, plate and car to the police immediately after they leave (or before, if you are bold!).

The most professional detectives will report themselves to the police in your area FIRST. That way they cannot be arrested for trespassing on their initial visit. They are actually supposed to report themselves, but not all do. Some detectives go one step better – they report themselves to the local police, but claim to be a poll-taker or salesperson when they get to your house, not the detective they actually are. Then when someone calls and says “this person was at my house with this license plate”, the police have a record of them beforehand and they’ll say ‘that person called yesterday and said they’ll be in town taking a poll’. You might want to ask ‘has anyone else called about this person taking a poll at their house’? In my case, no one in town had, not even when I called a week later. If you are being stalked, don’t worry about seeming paranoid if you have a gut feeling about something. Usually, even about the most bizarre things, your feelings are right.

Keep a ‘detective notebook’ – just as they do on you! Your notebook will have any strange cars / persons you’ve seen sitting at the end of your driveway, walking around your house, driving up your driveway and turning around, etc. Get the car description and plate if possible, and note who is driving (woman, man, age, haircolor). You will find this useful later if you think you are being followed. You can also use it in court. Some people might not be detectives, but could be friends of the stalker. Keep in mind that most PI agencies use more than one car! Also keep in mind – not to alarm you but it’s true – that once they know where you live, it is easy for them to put a device on your car (usually the underside of the car) which monitors where the car goes – much like the devices used to find stolen cars. Read up on Detectives and how they operate, their lastest ‘techie’ tools. Check out detective web sites (www.pimall.com), so you know what can be used against you. If a detective can use it, so can a stalker.

DETECTIVES / STRANGERS AND YOUR DOG
The dog is your excuse why you can’t talk to them, or let them in, get near them, or allow them on your property. They are the excuse why the person had better leave quickly ‘before the dog goes nuts’ (you can be concerned for the poor stranger, not totally nasty). Also warn them firmly but politely that the dog bites, and please to not come there again. Once they are warned not to come to your house again, they are trespassing if they do so again.

Which reminds me – use a ‘NO TRESPASSING” sign, for your stalker AND for detectives. Especially if you have decided against a restraining order.

GARAGE DOOR TIP
If you have glass in your garage doors, put aluminum foil over the glass. It can’t be seen through and is cheap and quick to put up. Lock your garage and keep your car inside.