Stalking Safety Planning
Several murders of stalking victims have highlighted the fact that people who stalk can be very dangerous. Stalkers can threaten, attack, sexually assault and even kill their victims. Unfortunately, there is no single psychological or behavioral profile that can predict what stalkers will do. Stalkers’ behaviors can escalate, from more indirect ways of making contact (e.g. sending email or repeated phone calling) to more personal ways (delivering things to the victim’s doorstep or showing up at their work).
Many victims struggle with how to respond to the stalker. Some victims try to reason with the stalker, try to “let them down easy” or “be nice” in hopes of getting the stalker to stop the behavior. Some victims tell themselves that the behavior “isn’t that bad” or other sentiments that minimize the stalking behavior. Other victims may confront or threaten the stalker and/or try to “fight back.” These methods rarely work because stalkers are actually encouraged by any contact with the victim, even negative interactions.
Victims of stalking can not predict what stalkers will do but can determine their own responses to the stalking behavior. Personal safety and harm prevention is of the utmost importance for victims. While victims cannot control the stalking behavior, they can be empowered to take steps to keep themselves, family and loved ones safe. The creation of a safety plan can assist victims in doing this.
Stalking Safety Plan – What is it?
A safety plan is a combination of suggestions, plans, and responses created to help victims reduce their risk of harm. It is a tool designed in response to the victim’s specific situation that evaluates what the victim is currently experiencing, incorporates the pattern of previous behavior, and examines options that will positively impact the victim’s safety. In a safety plan, the factors that are causing or contributing to the risk of harm to the victim and her/his loved ones are identified and interventions are developed.
Advocates and Stalking Safety Planning
While victims can make safety plans on their own, it is often helpful to enlist the assistance of trained professionals. These professionals, including advocates and law enforcement officers, can help a victim determine which options will best enhance their safety and will work to devise a safety plan to address each unique situation and circumstance. Victim advocates can be found in local domestic violence and rape crisis programs, as well as in victim assistance programs in local prosecutors’ offices and in some law enforcement agencies.