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Stalking

December 22, 2010

So first I have to share that I have not “blogged” before and the reason I share that is to let you know I am going to speak/write from the heart. I have been asked to talk about stalking because stalking has been the focus of my work life for the past five years. I have worked very hard to change the perceptions of the justice system with regard to this particular crime while at the same time working with stalking victims; and by “working with,” I mean in conversation with either over the phone or in person. In 2009 I talked with 391 persons who were describing stalking behavior directed toward them. Though I have talked with a handful of men, those being stalked are mostly women. Yet, they share the same experience – their words are the same. In response to my question, what would you like to have happen, they respond, “I just want it to stop!”.
They don’t want a court case, they don’t want police involvement, they just want their lives back. Hopeless tears express the sadness at believing they may never get to a place of peace without this constant antagonism in their lives. Terror, fear, anxiety, along with the obvious outcomes of long-held tension in the body is the eternal flame of suffering of a stalked woman. I have met women who have been found after ten years of absence. I have talked with women who met someone on a dating web-site and can’t seem to shake the person they met just once but now expresses undying devotion. I have talked with women who have been in an abusive marriage for years and have taken the step to leave with her children and are stalked by their former partner relentlessly until they give in and go back because living there can’t be worse than this.
I do this work because just a little bit of support and knowledge can provide these women (and men) a sense of empowerment they haven’t felt for a long time. We generally talk for a while assessing the danger of the situation and the options for safety.
So what advice would I give to a person being stalked?
1. Look into the Address Confidentiality program in your state. This program may allow you to move and give you the legal ability to keep your residence address confidential.
2. Connect with an advocate—Advocates have a lot of knowledge around the topic of keeping safe. A conversation with an advocate who has understanding about stalking could save your life.
3. Educate yourself about technology and the ways it can be used to track you. If you are saying to yourself, “I don’t know how he knew this about me….,” there may be some technology involved.
4. If you can at all help it, don’t isolate yourself; stay connected with your community. Isolation is the cornerstone of abuse, therefore we must make an effort to keep community and fun in our lives.
5. Know you don’t have to be “nice” and/or “help” everyone; many perpetrators will prey on your kindness. Learn and set clear boundaries for yourself around who you allow near you. If you are a helper at heart, find a structured environment for helping, like your local shelter, so your desire to be helpful is taken care of.
6. And lastly, if you have a gut reaction to someone or a inner voice shouting at you, please LISTEN—
And Stay Safe,
Deirdre

81% of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabiting partner were also physically assaulted and 31% were also sexually assaulted by that partner. NCVC.org
If you are in MN you can contact the Stalking Response Help-Line at 612-343-0793. Outside of MN contact the Stalking Resource Center at 1-800-FYI-CALL.

Deirdre Keys is the Stalking Response Program Coordinator for the Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project, Minneapolis, MN

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2010 5:42 pm

    Deidre
    thanks for this blog, I have met you in my other life working as a domestic violence advocate. Your blog is well written and timely! Keep up the good work!
    tilly from Lost Creek Bags

  2. mpkeyes permalink
    December 23, 2010 11:50 pm

    Invaluable information, and well and clearly written! Thank heaven for Dierdre and all those who spend their time combatting this unnerving behavior and empowering those who suffer from being stalked.

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