Victims of Domestic Violence And Stalking
Safety in the home
Safety at Work
Safety in your car
Threatening communications by voice
following information has been developed to help the stalking
victim in dealing with a traumatic and confusing situation.
Be aware that the situation in which you are involved may never
be resolved to your satisfaction or to the satisfaction of
Remember that not all of the suggestions given here will
be suitable or feasible for all situations. By no means is
the information given here a complete list. Each case is to
be analyzed individually, as no two relationships are the same.
Not including cases where the parties have children in common,
the following ideas should be thought about in each case. Talk
with your local domestic violence program or law enforcement
about additional safety precautions if you have children in
- End all communication with the person who is stalking
you. You may need to write a letter stating that the person
is putting you in fear, that you wish all contact to stop
immediately, and that you will contact law enforcement if
further contact is made. Consider having your attorney send
a registered letter to this effect.
- Keep a log. Write down all details of the relationship
history. Include all information you know about your stalker.
Write the dates, times, and detailed summary of each incident.
- Keep track off any incidental or unusual occurrences such
as hang up phone calls or acts of vandalism. Keep all letters,
gifts, or other tangible pieces of evidence. Give them to
- Do not try to intervene or interfere with a law enforcement
investigation. Cooperate with the police and give them as
much information you can.
- Do not allow family members or close friends to intervene.
Persons with good intentions may cause more harm and increase
your level of danger.
- Be realistic when considering a protective order. Examine
both the positive and negative aspects. Make sure the limitations
of the order are well understood to prevent a false sense
of security. A protective order is only a piece of paper
and cannot guarantee safety.
- Seek help from law enforcement, your local law enforcement,
or victim witness.
- Train yourself to be more aware of your surroundings.
Trust your instincts in a potentially hazardous situation
and use preventative safety methods.
Safety in the home
Ask your local law enforcement to come look at your home
and possibly offer more safety ideas. Here are a few…
- Remove outdoor shrubs that could provide hiding places.
Install outdoor lights around your entire home, especially
at entryways, balconies, patios and driveways. Make them
high enough that someone cannot reach them in a standing
- Install motion detecting lights for areas less traveled.
- Redesign fences and gates to lock from inside your property.
- Keep all exterior gas, power and telephone boxes locked.
- Use proper deadbolt locks and keep garage doors locked
at all times. Install an electric garage door opener.
- Install wide-angle mirrors, “peep-holes”,
or other viewing devices in all doorways to the outside of
your home. Never open a door until you identify a safe visitor.
- Post a NO SOLICITORS sign. Never accept door-to-door solicitations
- Install a lockable mailbox, or use a post office box for
all your personal and business mail.
- Sliding glass doors and windows on older homes will require
additional reinforcement. Talk to a locksmith.
- Place inside lights and a radio on a timer system to make
it more difficult for someone to tell if you are home or
- Window treatments should be designed to make it easy to
see out, not in. Stand outside your home at night and see
if you can look inside. Ask a friend to help.
- Think about installing an alarm system. Many are now affordable
through leasing programs. At a minimum, an independent monitoring
company should monitor the system, have an alarm that is
loud and sounds outside the home, and allow you to turn the
system on from your bedroom before going to sleep.
- Maintain fire safety by installing proper smoke detectors
and all-purpose fire extinguishers in you home.
Safety where you work
Remember that it is often easier to be located at work
than at home, especially if your career involves a lot of
public interaction. Reasonable safety precautions can help
reduce the threat of violence in the workplace.
- Carpooling is the safest form of travel to and from work.
- Park you car in unmarked, unassigned spaces. Request that
parking lot attendants pay special attention to suspicious
- Arrange to meet with others to walk to and from your car.
If your job has security, ask one of the security officers
to walk with you.
- Co-workers should be reminded of routine security procedures
such as awareness of suspicious people, packages and telephone
calls. All incidents should be documented in detail and reported
- Establish an access control system limiting public access
to working areas. Inventory all keys and conduct routine
audits. The loss of a key by just one person warrants a change
of all locks.
- Advise and consult with both the personnel and security
departments about your situation.
- Have all telephone calls, mail, and packages screened.
- Establish a sign-in sheet for all visitors, including
- Although co-workers should be informed of the situation,
do not divulge too much information. Friends and co-workers
can be a source of information to the stalker without realizing
- Never remain at work alone and avoid being in the office
when the office is closed.
- Do not establish a lunch time ritual. Change eating or
break habits often and include others in your plans.
Safety in your car
- Look inside your car before you get in. Taking the long
way around your car will give you the best view.
- Install a vehicle alarm with a remote device that unlocks
the car, turns on interior lights, and activates the alarm.
- Install or carry a cellular phone. Be able to give your
exact location when placing calls for help. Join a motorist
- Even if your cell phone is not connected with a service,
it will dial 911 as long as it is charged. Keep a charger
in your car that connects with the cigarette lighter.
- Always travel with your doors locked and seatbelt fastened.
Keep your pocket book or wallet on the floorboard under your
- Make a habit of traveling in the center lane where moving
vehicles are on either side of you. On a two-lane road, use
the lane farthest from the sidewalk. Obey local laws, some
places require you to drive in the right-hand lane except
- Keep local and state maps, telephone book, flashlight
(with extra batteries), jumper cables, emergency tire repair
kit, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and any other emergency
items in your car at all times.
- Install a locking gas cap and refuel only during daylight
hours at a trusted gas station.
- Avoid parking lots with valet service.
- Avoid traveling the same route every day. Take different
roads every day and travel at different times. (Try to leave
10 minutes early one day, then 10 minutes later the next.)
- Become familiar with police and fire station locations.
If you suspect you are being followed, do not exit your car
until you are at a safe location.
- Never stop to assist a stranded motorist or pick up hitchhikers.
- If you are in a traffic accident, stay in your car until
the situation is safe. Request police and rescue assistance,
if needed, using a cellular phone.
- Install window-tinting film as dark as permitted by local
The best general precaution is a mindset that blends
a healthy outlook with a defensive attitude.
- Have a trusted friend or neighbor check your house and
alternate interior lights if you are going on a trip. Stop
mail and newspaper deliveries until you return.
- Store all firearms in a locked cabinet. Keep all ammunition
in a separate locked location. Receive consistent training
on the safety and use of firearms.
- Know where every member of your household is at all times.
- Plan and prepare for an emergency evacuation.
- Document any unusual occurrence including wrong phone
numbers and license plate numbers of suspicious vehicles.
- Escort children to and from bus stops.
- Join or establish a Neighborhood Watch program
- The most effective deterrent and alarm have been proven
to be the family dog.
- Limit the size and contents of your pocketbook. Avoid
carrying appointment cards, receipts, and other papers that
provide a stalker or abuser with information about you.
- Personal security measures are a matter of choice. Be
prepared if and when you decide to use a means of self-defense.
Obtain detailed, constant training and stay within the guidelines
of the law.
- Remember that every security measure you make should become
a comfortable and acceptable way of like, not a temporary
- Maintain an unlisted, unpublished phone number and use
caller ID. Check with your local phone company to see which
features are available in your area.
- Rather than changing phone numbers, consider installing
a second line or number. Tell only trusted friends and family
to use the new number. This avoids giving the stalker or
abuser a new “challenge” and lets you get back
to your normal routine while still being able to collect
- Remote call forwarding lets you have a phone number not
actually assigned to a physical location. This forwards any
calls made to this number to your secure residence phone.
This makes it difficult for anyone, including phone company
employees, to locate your home address.
- When making phone calls from your home, make a habit of
using *67 before dialing the number. This will keep your
number from showing up on other people’s Caller ID.
- When using a Caller ID unit, you can choose whether or
not you wish to accept calls that were made using *67. If
you elect not to, the caller will hear a prerecorded message
advising them to this effect. Your phone will not ring and
you will not be made aware of the attempt.
- Screen calls at your home using an answering machine or
service with the ability to record messages. Any attempts
at phone contact should be taped.
- Maintain a log of unusual calls or hang-ups to compare
to the list complied by the Phone Company.
- In many cases, the Phone Company will work with the police
department to perform call tracing. In many areas, this service
is conditional upon an agreement to prosecute.
- In severe cases, the Phone Company can also inspect the
external telephone lines for taps.
These guidelines for handling of mail as evidence are
general guidelines only. Your local police department may
have more specific procedures that should be used. The additional
ideas for protecting your address are most successful when
applied at the time of a move. The ideas can still be useful
if you either cannot move or need to move but haven’t
done so yet.
- Keep ALL suspicious mail, packages, or gifts as possible
- When dealing with possible evidence, handle them only
if absolutely necessary and involve as few people as possible.
Pick up the items with gloves or plastic wrap and keep them
in sealed bags.
- Place letters in manila folders or plastic sheet holders
(unless paper is damp) or protect any fingerprints that may
remain. Also be sure to keep all enclosures and envelopes.
- If the stalker’s identity is not known, the style,
vocabulary, and content may help eliminate or develop a suspect(s).
- Be aware that the named victim of a threat will not necessarily
be the victim of any following violence. Stalkers have been
known to harm members of their own family or the family and
friends of their victim .
- Subscribe to a post office box or private mail box and
delivery service. Report a change of address to this new
location. If you select a private service, the address will
appear to be a normal residential location.
- Real property ownership is a matter of public record.
Establish a trust that does not use your family name and
transfer your property to the trust .
- Residential rental contracts should be completed in the
name of a trust or other non-obvious name. (Consider this
approach for utilities, too).
- Voter registration information is also a matter of public
record. Either re-register using your private address or
file for confidential voter status .
- Contact all three credit-reporting agencies by mail to
inform them of your private address and request that they
remove your residential address and phone number from their
files. This is a good time to check for problems on your
credit report. (TRW, Trans Union, CBI/Equifax)
- Change the address displayed on your operator’s
license and vehicle registration as permitted by law to show
your private address.
- Be aware that your trash can be a huge source of information.
Discard mail, notes, and other trash in a safe way. Compact
shredders can be bought at stationary supply stores.
Threatening communications by voice
Whether contact is face-to-face or by telephone, it is
very important that the conversation be recorder or written
down word-for-word if possible. In order to do this, think
about the questions and write down everything you remember…
- What is the threatened harm?
- Where will the threat be carried out?
- When will the threat be carried out?
- Who will carry out the threat? Does the person making
the threat have the resources and opportunity to carry out
- What does the person making the threat want?
- How can the threat be avoided?
- Why is he/she making the threat?
- Where is the person making the threat at this time?
- Any available identifiers such as name, address, employer,
type of car, license plate #, etc.?
- The sex, age, and/or race if known?
- Any physical description provided such as height, hair-color,
eye-color, clothing worn at the time of the threat.
- Emotional tone (sad, angry, upset, calculating, demanding,
- Signs that the person has been drinking alcohol or using
other illegal drugs
- Any unusual or disturbing body language or gestures?
- Any background noises that might help identify a caller’s
location (machinery, traffic, children, television, radio,
- For bomb threats, the location, type of bomb if known,
the appearance if known, time and location at which the threat
For more information call 800.838.8238 or email Hotline@vsdvalliance.org. E-mail is not a secure form of communication. To ensure confidentiality please call the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.838.8238 (V/TTY).