Know your rights about stalking – The Self Defense Company

Know your rights about stalking

Know your rights about stalking

You Are Not To Blame for Being Stalked.

1.4 million people are stalked every year in the United States, one in 12 women and one in 45 men in their lifetimes.  Stalking is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk.

About 75 percent of stalking cases are men stalking women, but men do stalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.


Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.

These are common reactions to being stalked:

  • Feel fear of what the stalker will do.
  • Feel vulnerable, unsafe, and not know who to trust.
  • Feel nervous, irritable, impatient, or on edge.
  • Feel depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, tearful, or angry.
  • Feel stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping, or remembering things.
  • Have eating problems, such as appetite loss, forgetting to eat, or overeating.
  • Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories.
  • Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid.

What You Can Do Right Now To Prevent Yourself From Becoming a Victim.

Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.

How to tell if you’re being stalked. 

  • Stalking is a series of actions the can make you feel afraid or in danger.
  • Stalking is serious, often violent and can escalate over time.

Acts typically committed by stalkers:

  • Follow you and show up wherever you are.
  • Repeatedly call or message you.
  • Damage your home, car, or other property.
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or messages.
  • Monitor your social media, phone calls or computer use.
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems, to track where you go.
  • Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
  • Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
  • All actions that control, track, or frighten you.

What to do if you feel you’re being stalked. 


Remove and block them from all social media. Make sure you know who you’re friending since they can create a fake identity.


Contact the police and file a complaint. You need to start officially documenting your case as soon as possible.


Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.


Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging another place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you.

Reach out.

Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program (listed at the bottom of the article). They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, refer you to other services, and weigh options such as seeking a protection order.


Compile the evidence. Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you. Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, video it and take pictures.

Keep emails, texts, social media posts, phone messages, letters, or notes.

Photograph any property the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw.

Contact the local police immediately after every event.

Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.


It is highly recommended that you participate in some active resistance (self defense) training. A self defense class will give you some extra confidence and enable you to create a higher level of awareness. It is the physical action that promotes mental readiness.


If someone you know is being stalked, you can still help. 

Listen. Show support. Don’t blame the victim for the crime. Remember that every situation is different, and allow the person being stalked to make choices about how to handle it. Findsomeone you can talk to about the situation. Take steps to ensure your own safety.

Agencies that are here to help you:

National Center for Victims of Crime

Downloadable “GetHelp” bulletins on all types of crime and victimization, victims’ rights, compensation, and civil justice, among many others. Toll-free helpline and email address for victims to receive information and referrals to services. Special information for teen victims of crime.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Information for victims on safety planning, violence at the workplace, internet safety, and identity theft.

National Organization for Victim Assistance

Information on victimization, trauma, and how to find help. Specific information on crime victims with disabilities, elderly victims, and domestic violence. Criminal justice system glossary. Links to national and state victim resources.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Articles and other materials about sexual violence. Links to other victim resources.

This document was developed under grant number 98-WE-VX-K008 from the Office on Violence Against Women of the U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions and views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. This document is available in printed version or pdf format and may be reproduced only in its entirety. Any alterations other than the addition of agency contact information in the space provided above must be approved by the Stalking Resource Center. Contact us at (202) 467-8700 or


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