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How to Deal With Stalkers

Five Methods:Identifying a StalkerDistancing YourselfAsking for HelpCollecting EvidenceSending a Clear Message

Having a stalker can be an uncomfortable or terrifying situation, depending on the severity of the stalking. Stalking frequently escalates into other types of violent crime, so if you think you are being stalked, you must take steps to distance yourself from your stalker and protect yourself and your family.

Method 1
Identifying a Stalker

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    Know what qualifies as stalking. Stalking is a type of harassment, which is the act of making repeated or inappropriate contact with you that is unwanted and unreciprocated.[1]
    • Stalking may take place in-person, with someone following you, spying on you, or approaching you at your home or workplace.
    • The following may be signs of stalking: receiving unwanted gifts, being followed, receiving unwanted mail or email messages, receiving unwanted or repetitive phone calls.
    • Stalking can also occur online, in the form of cyber-stalking or cyber-bullying. These types of contact can be difficult to prosecute, but you may be able to avoid this harassment more easily by changing your online privacy settings or email address.
    • Any instance of cyber-stalking that then transitions into in-person stalking should be considered very serious and should be reported immediately.
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    Determine the type of stalker you have. Some types of stalkers are more dangerous than others, and knowing the type of stalker you are dealing with can help you notify the police appropriately and defend yourself if necessary.[2]
    • Most stalkers are known as simple stalkers. These are individuals who you know that you may have had a romantic or friendly relationship in the past. The relationship ended for you, but not for the other person.
    • Love obsession stalkers are individuals who you have never met (or very casual acquaintances) who latch onto you and think that they are in a relationship with you. People who stalk celebrities are in this category.
    • Stalkers who have a psychotic fantasy about a relationship with their victims will often turn from unwanted attention to threats or intimidation. When this fails, they may escalate to violence.
    • Sometimes the abuser in an abusive relationship or marriage becomes a stalker, following his ex and watching from afar, then moving closer, and eventually repeating or escalating violent attacks. This can be one of the most dangerous stalkers.
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    Sense how much danger you are in. A casual acquaintance who develops an obsession and drives by your residence occasionally or often may be ultimately harmless. An abusive ex-husband who has threatened you may try to kill you if you let your guard down.[3]
    • If you are being stalked online, decide whether it is likely that the stalker has any information about your real-life whereabouts. Be sure to maintain a secure online presence and never reveal your home address or even your hometown on public pages.
    • You should trust your instincts, be cognizant of the history of the person’s behavior (if you are aware of it), and be realistic about the danger you’re in.
    • If you truly feel like you or your family members are in danger, you should seek help at your local police or sheriff’s office or with a victim’s services organization.
    • If you think danger is imminent, call Emergency Services immediately.
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    Be observant. If you believe that you are being stalked, you should be extra observant of your surroundings. Notice anyone acting strangely or unknown vehicles in your neighborhood or near your workplace. Be sure to take notes about anything you observe that seems unusual.

Method 2
Distancing Yourself

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    Avoid contact with your stalker. Stalkers often feel as though they are in a relationship with their victims, and any contact the victims make with them is perceived as validation of their “relationship,” which is nonexistent. If you are being stalked, do not call, write to, or speak to your stalker in person if you can avoid it at all.
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    Avoid unintentional signs or messages. Sometimes stalking victims yell at or talk to their stalkers, but even overt rudeness can be misconstrued by stalkers (who are frequently mentally disturbed) as communication of affection or interest.
    • If you are being stalked online, do not respond in any way to any messages, regardless of how angry you become. Just print them for evidence and leave the computer.
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    Hide your personal information. If a stalker does not have personal information about you such as your phone number, home address, or email address, do not let him find it.[4]
    • Do not give your home phone number aloud to anyone in public places. If you find that you must provide a phone number, try using a work phone instead, or writing the number down then shredding it.
    • Avoid putting your home address in writing. In cases of extreme stalking, you may want to get a PO Box for your mailing address so that it’s less likely that you will need to provide anyone with your home address.
    • Do not share your home address or place of work online or on social media. This may give an online stalker the opportunity to find you in person.
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    Get a protective order. In cases of repeated stalking or stalkers with a history of violence, you may be able to get an order of protection which legally requires the stalker to stay away from you. Be aware, however, that this could potentially anger the stalker and push him to violence.[5]
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    Move to an undisclosed location. In very extreme cases of potentially violent stalking, you may decide to move to a new place. If you do so, you may want to consult an organization such as a battered women’s shelter for tips about how to make yourself truly disappear.
    • Do not have your mail forwarded directly to your new home.
    • Be careful when registering to vote in a new place. You can request anonymous registration.
    • If you purchase property, your name may be on the public record as the land’s owner. Sometimes these records are tied to searchable databases, so you may want to rent to remain more anonymous.

Method 3
Asking for Help

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    Tell a variety of people about your problem. While you may not want to post on social media or announce to a large crowd of people that you have a stalker, it is important to tell enough people that if something were to happen, you may have witnesses. You may want to tell your parents, your boss, a co-worker or two, your spouse, your neighbors, and the office management or doorman if you live in an apartment building.[6]
    • If possible, show people a photograph of your stalker. If not, give them a detailed description.
    • Tell people what they should do if they see the stalker with or without you being around. Should they call you? Call the police? Tell the stalker to leave?
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    Report stalking and threats to the police. Even if the stalking has been from a distance and non-violent, you may want to tell the police about it.[7]
    • Be sure to include any and all signs of stalking, as many police departments need to have evidence of at least 2-3 unwanted contacts before they can charge someone with stalking.[8]
    • Be aware that the authorities may not be able to do anything until the stalking has escalated to or near the point of threats or violence.
    • Ask them what you should do to keep track of incidents, when and how to call for help if necessary, and if they have any tips for developing a safety plan.
    • Call the police frequently if you feel as though they do not take your complaint seriously at first.[9]
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    Report the stalking to other appropriate individuals. If you are a student, you should notify campus authorities about stalking. This may be a campus police officer, administrator, counselor, or residence hall director.
    • If you are unsure who you should tell, start with a trusted friend or family member who can likely help you find the proper authorities.
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    Alert your family about the danger. If you are in danger, your family may also be in danger. You need to tell them about the problem and about how to deal with the problem.
    • If you have children, this may be a difficult conversation to have with them, but it may save their lives.
    • If the stalker is a member of your family, this may cause division among other family members. While this can be difficult, remember that you are protecting yourself, and the stalker is the one who is responsible for his illegal actions.
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    Seek help from an organization devoted to stalking or violence prevention. If you feel uncomfortable talking to friends, family, or the police, try calling a resource that deals specifically with violence prevention. There are resources, particularly for women and children, that can provide counseling and help you make a plan.[10]
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    Make a safety plan. If you feel that the stalking might escalate, you need to have a safety plan. This may be something as simple as keeping your phone with you 100% of the time to call for help or keeping a packed bag and a full tank of gas in your car.[11]
    • Try to avoid being alone in vulnerable situations, like walking to and from your workplace or home, particularly at night.[12]
    • Be sure you tell a trusted friend your safety plan. You may also want to have a “check-in” plan, where if she has not heard from you by a pre-arranged time, she calls you and then the police if she can’t contact you.
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    Have a security check done on your home. Security companies or your police department may offer to carry out a security check on your home to be sure that there are no hidden recording devices or potential entry risks.[13]
    • When you schedule the check, ask the person with whom you schedule the appointment to give a physical description of the individual who will be performing the check on your home.
    • Ask the person performing the check for his or her credentials when they arrive.

Method 4
Collecting Evidence

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    Keep anything in writing. If you receive any emails, social media messages, hand-written notes, or gifts, keep them. Your first instinct may be to destroy anything related to the stalker who is making you uncomfortable, but it is best to keep the evidence in case you need to build a case against him.[14]
    • Print any electronic correspondence. Be sure that details such as date and time print as well.
    • Keeping the items doesn’t mean that you have to look at them. Place them in a box and keep it in a high shelf in your closet or basement.
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    Record phone calls or voicemails. You can download call recording programs for your smart phone or put the call on speakerphone and use an old-fashioned tape recorder. Be sure to save voicemails with threatening or violent content so that you can report them to the authorities.[15]
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    Be observant all the time. Unfortunately, one of the best strategies for dealing with a stalker is being a bit paranoid and not letting down your guard.[16] If you are a little bit paranoid, you are more likely to pick up on subtle signs of inappropriate contact or escalating behaviors.
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    Write notes in a journal. If you ever need to make a case for a restraining order or file a police report, it will be much easier to do if you have detailed, specific records of stalking activity that made you uncomfortable.[17]
    • Be sure to include dates and time.
    • The journal could also be used to determine habitual behavior and possibly catch or avoid your stalker.
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    Watch for any changes in behavior or escalation. Stalkers can get violent very quickly. If you start to see signs or even have a general feeling that things are about to escalate, notify the authorities and ask for help. A few potential signs of escalation are:
    • Increased frequency of contact or attempted contact
    • Increased severity of threats
    • Increased display of emotion or stronger words
    • Physically closer encounters
    • Increased contact with other friends or relatives

Method 5
Sending a Clear Message

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    Tell the stalker that you are not interested in a relationship. If you believe that your stalker is nonviolent and will back down with confrontation, you might try speaking to him directly.[18] Telling the person who is stalking you that you are not interested in any kind of relationship with him might make him back off.[19]
    • Consider having another person present to help protect you in case of escalation to violence and to act as a witness to the conversation.
    • Try not to be too nice with your rejection. Being nice to a stalker can unwittingly encourage him, and he may try to “read between the lines” and listen to your tone rather than your words.
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    Be sure he knows that you will never be interested in a relationship. If you believe that your stalker is nonviolent and will back down with confrontation, be sure to tell him that a relationship will never happen. Saying that you’re not interested in a relationship “at this time” or “because you have a boyfriend right now” leaves the window open for future relationships and may not deter the stalker. Be clear that you do not—and you will never, under any circumstances—want a relationship.[20]
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    Do not use emotionally colored language. If you are frightened or angry, it can be difficult to have a conversation with your stalker.[21] It is important to remain as calm as possible, avoid yelling or cussing, and be clear and direct. Anger may be misinterpreted as passion, just as sympathy or niceness may be misinterpreted as affection.
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    Ask for support during this communication. It is best not to have this conversation alone. Ask someone for help, but you may want to be sure that any friend you bring with you to the conversation will not be perceived as a threat or competition. You may want to include a friend who is the same gender as you, as long as you both feel safe confronting the stalker.
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    Do not engage a stalker with a history of violence. If you have experienced violence at the hands of the stalker, or if he has threatened you, you should not try to contact or talk to him on your own. Consult the police department or victim services about the best way to send a clear message to a violent stalker.


  • Stay in large groups if you can.
  • Make sure you and your friends both get closure before ending a friendship, that's what friends are for.
  • Make sure you're not the paranoid one and label other people as stalkers when in fact they're not.
  • If a friend contacts you after many years, they're not automatically a stalker, many people try to get in touch with their old friends just to see how they're doing.
  • If someone is stalking you, that's a cause for concern.
  • Stalking is a crime, report them ASAP.
  • If you see the person a few times in a row, it doesn't mean that they're stalking you. Analyze the situation logically before making accusations.


  • Don’t be afraid to fight back if you are attacked. Your life may depend on it.
  • Always report threats of violence to the police.
  • Abusive ex-spouses are frequently stalkers, and they often use excessive violence.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Social Nuisances