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What to do if You are Experiencing Stalking

If you, or someone you know, experiences stalking, there are many tools at your disposal. The most important thing is to do what makes sense for your situation and what makes you feel safe. You are the expert on your own situation, and so you know best what the best course of action is for you. Here are some potential options:

Image of a chart with column headings "Date", "TIme", "Description of Incident", "Location of Incident", "Witness Name(s) (Attach Address and Phone #)", "Police Called (Report #)", "Officer Name (Badge #)". This is an example of a Stalking Incident Log.
Example of a Stalking Incident Log

Call Safeline


One great thing that you can do is to contact Safeline. We are here to support you however we can, and we can talk through options with you. All of our advocates are confidential and trained in recognizing stalking. Even if you’re not sure what to do, or if your situation qualifies as stalking, we are a great resource to consult. We can be reached by emailing safelineinfo@safelinevt.org or by calling our free 24/7 hotline: 1-800-639-7233 (1-800-NEW-SAFE).


Safety Plan


Safety planning is exactly what it sounds like: figuring out a plan for how to improve your safety. If you are experiencing stalking, this could include things like varying your routine, checking technology for trackers or malware, alerting coworkers and loved ones, calling emergency services, and changing your settings on social media. Depending on what kind of stalking you are experiencing, your plan will look different. If you call Safeline, our advocates can also talk through potential safety plans with you, and offer resources to improve your safety.


Stop Interacting with Your Stalker


Sometimes stalkers will contact their victims dozens of times a day in order to get a reaction. In this way, any kind of reaction from the victim could reinforce the behavior. For example: if a stalker calls you 50 times a day and you ignore the first 49 but answer the 50th call, the stalker may get the message that calling another 50 times will guarantee an interaction. Again, you know your situation best, and this does not apply to all stalkers. If responding to a stalker’s text messages keeps them from escalating the behavior, then it may be best to text them back occasionally. Sometimes it is not possible to stop interacting with a stalker, especially if you have children in common or you are unable to avoid the stalker. However, disengaging from the stalker whenever possible may be helpful in improving safety.


Document Everything


Documenting stalking can help with getting help in the future. Even if you don’t want to press charges, it helps to have a record of what you have experienced. This can include taking photographs, getting screenshots of text messages, recording phone calls, keeping evidence of gifts, getting medical attention (if needed), and calling the police if there are damages. Even though your first response may be to get rid of whatever reminders your stalker may have left you, it can be important to make a record. One way to do this is to create a Stalking Log. Whenever your stalker does something, write down the date, time, location, what happened, whether any witnesses were present, and whether the police were called. Safeline has sample Stalking Logs that you can fill out.


Order Against Stalking


In Vermont you can apply for an Order Against Stalking if you are not related to your stalker and haven’t been in an intimate relationship with your stalker (if you have, then you would apply for a Relief from Abuse Order). The court forms to apply for an Order Against Stalking are available on the Vermont Judiciary Website or at your local courthouse. For an Order Against Stalking, you’ll need to fill out several court forms with all of the information about the stalking and why you’re applying for an order. When you submit your paperwork, you’ll also have an opportunity to submit any evidence you have (including photographs and voice messages).

A judge will review your paperwork before deciding whether to approve or deny your temporary order. Even if your temporary Order Against Stalking is denied you can ask for a hearing. If your temporary order is approved, the court will serve your stalker the paperwork and schedule a hearing date. At the hearing you will have an opportunity to say your testimony, present any evidence, call upon potential witnesses. A stalking log is very useful in making sure that you have specific dates and times to accompany your testimony. At the end of the hearing, the judge will decide whether to approve your final Order Against Stalking. If the order is approved, if your stalker violates the terms of the order, you can call the police. For more information on Orders Against Stalking, visit the Vermont Judiciary website


If you would like to speak with an advocate, or would like to learn more about stalking, contact Safeline!

 

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