Safety Precautions

From Victims Advocate Magazine, Fall 2000

Since the primary objective should be to keep the client safe at all times, the stalking victim should be advised to take some of the following safety precautions at home, work, court, or in public. (Note: This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sampling of some commonly recommended strategies.)

At HOME:

  • Change the locks and add deadbolts.
  • Install a wide angle peep hole in all primary doors.
  • Trim the shrubbery near the house and keep the fuse box locked.
  • Keep flashlights with working batteries.
  • Install fire detectors, security alarms, and outside lights.
  • Get a dog for added protection.
  • Purchase rope ladders to be used to escape from second story windows.
  • Obtain a private, unlisted phone number.
  • Identify all visitors before opening doors.
  • Instruct the phone company to block incoming calls from certain numbers.
  • Use an answering machine or incoming caller-ID when receiving phone calls to collect evidence of harassment, stalking, or protection order violations.
  • Use Caller-ID blocking if it is necessary to call the stalker or someone who might intentionally or inadvertently reveal the victim's phone number to the stalker.
  • Obtain a cellular phone which is preprogrammed to 911 or the number of a safe friend or relative and keep it in an accessible hiding place.
  • Never open an unusual package, box, or device found on the property, but instead call the police and ask them to examine it.
  • Give the picture of the stalker to the neighbors, if possible, and ask them to call the police if they see the stalker nearby.
  • Keep a bag packed and hidden in a safe place in case there is a need for a quick escape ( the bag should contain money for phone calls, transportation, and one month's expenses; clothing; diapers, court documents; passports; identification; birth certificates; school and medical records; necessary medications; credit cards; check books; work permits; green cards; Mortgage/lease payments; insurance papers; bank books; telephone/address books; car/house keys; and ownership documents for house/car).
  • Prepare an emergency evacuation plan and brief household members on the procedures.
  • Know how to get to the local domestic violence shelter or the home of a safe friend or relative.

At WORK:

  • Inform Supervisors, human resource personnel, or employee counselors about the situation.
  • Provide a picture of the stalker and a copy of any protection orders to security, superiors, and reception area staff.
  • Ask co-workers to call the police immediately if the stalker appears.
  • Request that all visitors and packages pass through the central reception.
  • Ask a receptionist or co-worker to screen calls.
  • Save any voice mail and e-mail messages received from the stalker.
  • Ask about flexible or alternate work hours and relocation or work space to a more secure area.
  • Request a parking space close to the building.
  • Ask for an escort to the parking lot or the bus.

In COURT:

  • If the stalker is nearby, wait in a safe place such as next to a security guard or bailiff.
  • Avoid sitting close to the stalker in the courtroom.
  • Always make sure that other people are between the victim and the stalker.
  • Avoid speaking directly to the stalker.
  • Ask for an escort to and from court.
  • If the stalker follows the victim, call the police station and report the incident.

In PUBLIC:

  • Travel in groups or with a friend if possible.
  • Have protection order and emergency phone numbers on person at all times.
  • Avoid walking or jogging alone at night.
  • Always park in well-lit areas.
  • Alter daily routines by changing transportation routes or timing (including picking up children from school).
  • Do not drive directly home if followed.
  • Drive to a local police station, fire department, or busying shopping center if followed and honk the car horn to attract attention.