A Roadmap for Others
A close friend of mine was once stalked, a terrifying and mentally exhausting ordeal. As a narrative coach with a background in psychology and over 20,000 hours working with dangerous and toxic people, I employed various strategies that I know would make a difference and help her.
The main focus was on establishing boundaries and creating a robust support system. This article offers insights into how I navigated this process, and provides practical steps for anyone who might be dealing with a similar situation.
Stalking can often seem harmless or noncriminal in isolation, but as a pattern of behaviour, it can be disturbing and induce fear. Stalking actions may include persistent phone calls, following or tracking the victim, sending unwanted gifts, letters, or messages, or threatening harm. It's important to remember that stalking is a serious crime that can escalate over time.
As a victim, you may feel fearful, vulnerable, and unsure of who to trust. Such experiences may cause feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear. You might also feel frustrated or isolated, as others may struggle to understand the severity of your fears. Changes in work or school attendance and social media habits are often common responses.
One of the first steps in dealing with a stalker is to assertively establish boundaries. As my friend's coach, we worked on crafting assertive communication messages that left no ambiguity about her desire for the stalker to cease all contact. Ignoring their attempts at communication can be tough, but maintaining no contact is crucial. Any form of contact, even when attempting to end the relationship, may encourage the stalker to persist.
Having a strong support system can help a stalking victim regain control. I urged my friend to share her experience with her father, friends, and colleagues, ensuring she wasn't isolated and had a network of people looking out for her. It is vital to inform those around you about the situation so they can help protect your privacy and safety.
Collaborate with Authorities
Involving the authorities is a crucial step, if the person stalking refuses to respect the boundaries you set. It's essential to report any stalking behaviour and provide them with as much information as possible. Keeping a detailed log of stalking incidents, including dates, times, locations, and any communication, can be incredibly beneficial. This record can serve as evidence, providing a clear pattern of the stalker’s behaviour.
Connecting with authorities can also provide essential support and resources. The authorities can help you understand local stalking laws, guide you through the process of filing a protective order, and develop a safety plan tailored to your situation.
Create a Safety Plan
A safety plan is a personalised, practical plan that identifies potential risks and outlines ways to increase safety. Together with my friend, we developed her safety plan, identifying safe places, escape routes, and trusted people she could contact in an emergency. We also brainstormed ways she could secure her home and planned responses to potential stalking scenarios.
Educate Children and Dependents
If children or dependents are involved, it is essential to educate them on the situation in an age-appropriate manner. Make sure they know how to respond to an emergency, where to find safety, and who to call for help. This education not only prepares them for potential situations but also gives them a sense of control and safety.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Throughout the process, I also focused on my friend's mental health. The trauma of being stalked can cause severe stress and mental health issues. I would encourage seeking professional mental health support, reinforcing that it's okay to ask for help, and it's crucial to prioritise self-care during this challenging time.
Being stalked is an incredibly frightening and overwhelming experience. But with the right support, information, and resources, it is possible to regain control and security.
Trust your instincts and intuition, know your rights, and remember you are not alone in this fight.
If you are being stalked and you don't have someone to guide you what you should do next, reach out and let's create a plan.
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