Stalking: It’s Not Just Being Watched, Part One
Do you think the justice system will help you if you’re a victim of stalking? Think again.
Meet Cate Allen. Like many single women, she met a guy and started going out. “I dated him for about two months and then I said, this isn’t working out,” she said. But when she tried to end it, his personality changed. “What would have been the best advice if I’d received it at the time was, ‘You need to call the police, now,'” she said.
Beau Babka, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, said the time to call the police is when you feel your personal space has been violated. “The justice system is so overburdened with domestic stalking and crimes,” he said. Babka said that police and the justice systems often fail the victim. “What your typical answer would be is, we don’t have time for this, the police system does quite often fail,” he said.
Those failures meant Allen’s stalker began playing cat and mouse. “This is just a fun game he gets to play,” she said.
Safe Horizon, the largest victims’ services agency in the United States, said that anyone can become a victim of stalking. The following are suggestions as to what you can do if someone is stalking you.
- Keep a log of incidents including the date, time, what happened, and the names of any witnesses. Even if you decide not to pursue prosecution, you may change your mind and it will be helpful to have documentation of every incident.
- If you have a restraining order, make several copies, and carry a copy with you at all times. Save any packages, letters, messages, or gifts from the stalker. They may be important if you decide to report to the police.
- To keep your address confidential, get a post office box and use it on all correspondence. Put this address on your checks. If you are being sent something from Federal Express or another company that won’t mail to P.O. Boxes, change ‘P.O. Box’ to ‘Apartment’ when giving your address.
- Use an answering machine to screen calls. Save all voicemail messages from the stalker, or record them to a tape recorder and save the tapes. To report telephone harassment and get help in documenting harassing phone calls call the Unlawful Call Center at 1 (800) 518-5507
- You can have your phone reject calls from anonymous or unknown callers by contacting your local telephone service provider.
Read the second half of our tip list and find out what happens when an obsession becomes violent in Part Two of our story tomorrow.