January is National Stalking Awareness Month.
A stalker can be someone with whom you are/were in a relationship with or it can be a co-worker, acquaintance or anyone else. Here are general suggestions that could help make you safer:
Stop all contact and communication with the person stalking or harassing you but keep any evidence of the stalking (such as voicemails, texts, emails, etc.,) for future court cases or criminal actions.
Responding to the stalker's actions may reinforce and/or encourage his/her behavior.
Carry a cell phone with you. Keep handy or memorize emergency phone numbers that you can use in case of an emergency. If you ever feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you may want to reach out for help, even if nothing immediately dangerous is happening.
Have a safe place in mind to go to in an emergency. You might go to a police station, place of worship, public area, the home of a family member or friend (unknown to the stalker), or a domestic violence shelter.
If someone is following you, it is generally not a good idea to go home.
Try not to travel alone.
If you run or walk for exercise, you might want to get an exercise buddy to go with you. Always try to vary your routes to and from work or school, the grocery store, and any other places regularly visited.
By changing your daily routes, it could make it more difficult for someone to learn your routine – however, also be aware that a stalker may put a GPS monitoring device on your car or cell phone. One hint that a GPS device may be installed is if you are varying your routes or going to unexpected places but the stalker still seems to find you
Be aware of how much identifying information you are posting on the Internet through social networking sites and online purchases. You may want to select the highest security settings on any social networking accounts and think carefully before giving out your personal information through online purchases.
Alert the three credit bureaus and ask to have a fraud alert put on your credit reports: Experian (888) 397-3742, Equifax (888) 766-0008, and TransUnion (877) 322-8228. Putting an alert on your credit could help to prevent fraudulent activity and/or identity theft. (AS)