Stalking Serious Crime Demands Self Defense
Stalking is a very serious crime which typically targets innocent women using threats, intimidation and violence. The crime of stalking is often not taken seriously by law enforcement as well as friends and family of the victim. Stalking victims live in terror and fear, they suffer from undue stress and anxiety.
Earlier this week in Florida a 23 year old stalking victim was murdered by her 61 year old stalker before he took his own life. This was a tragic ending to a crime that never should have been allowed to take place. The waring signs were many, the "red flags" numerous, but when the victim pleaded for help in the months and weeks leading up to her murder, that help never materialized. In this case and countless others stalking was not recognized for what it is, a very serious and dangerous crime, as a result victims live in fear and can fall victim to violence including murder.
The 23 year old victim was described as pretty, sweet, caring and an all around good person. While working as a waitress she met her stalker, a well off professional accountant who was nearly 40 years her senior. Stalkers become obsessed with their victims, this obsession and persistence leaves the victim no choice but to inform the stalker that their advances are unwanted. This confrontation can lead to the stalker becoming mentally and physically abusive.
A stalker knows where a victim lives and works. They know where they shop and exercise. They are aware of friends, family and relationships. Stalking strikes fear in the victim, using intimidation to attempt to control. In the case above, the young victim filed for and was denied a restraining order that could have prevented this awful murder. In late January, she went to court and presented over 70 pages of harassing and demeaning emails received from her stalker. Even after describing her case a Judge offered no help and no restraining order. Two weeks later he shot her then turned the gun on himself.
There are different types of stalkers but most seem to fit into one of a few catagories:
How to handle stalking
- The rejected stalker: As a result of a breakup, this stalker acts out of the desire to mend a relationship and desperation to continue contact.
- The resentful stalker: The stalker may be a former friend or partner or an acquaintance. The goal of the stalker is to frighten and distress the victim because of feelings of injustice and desire for revenge.
- The incompetent stalker: These people want intimacy, but the victim is not interested. They lack sufficient skills in appropriate courtship behavior.
- The predatory stalker: The power and control that comes from stalking gives this individual a great deal of enjoyment. This type is only common at the end of an abusive relationship.
- The intimacy stalker: This type is the most highly publicized, but the least common. The stalker typically suffers from a mental illness or holds morbid infatuation with someone, often a celebrity. They view the victim as their “true love” and feel entitled to contact him or her.
- Obtain a restraining order or order of protection.
- Do not ignore any threat or decide they are not capable of harm. Call the law enforcement immediately.
- Record any record of a threat.
- Keep a list of critical telephone numbers and the location of safe places.
- Consider a home security check. (Local police branches, victim support agencies, and security companies may offer this service.)
- Don't give out your home address and phone number. Provide business contact information instead, whenever possible.
- Keep a detailed diary of the stalkers behavior, including photographs of destroyed property, photographs of injuries inflicted by the stalker, recordings of harassing messages, license plate numbers, etc. -Keep pen and paper easily accessible, even in the car, for this purpose.
- If possible, install outdoor lighting, lockable windows, exterior motion sensor lights, and peepholes in doors. -Trimming shrubbery is also recommended.
- Vary your routes of travel.
- Park in safe, well-lit areas. Always have someone escort you to and from your car.
- Tell your managers, co-workers, friends, and security at your business and residence about the stalker. If possible, provide them with a description and photograph. Ask them to alert you in advance about the stalker's presence and call the police, if appropriate.
- Do not change your phone number. A stalker may view this as a new challenge to overcome in order to be with you, feeding their false beliefs. Instead, purchase an answering machine and ask a same-gender friend to record the message (so as not to provoke a stalker who mistakenly perceives competition).
- Take self-defense training or purchase and learn to use self defense products such as pepper spray or mace.
- File police reports of any illegal behavior perpetrated by the stalker.
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