If you feel you are in imminent danger or fear a threat of harm, please call 911 immediately!

While SPARC resources can help victims and survivors learn more about stalking, please note that SPARC DOES NOT PROVIDE DIRECT SERVICES TO VICTIMS OF STALKING. If you or a friend are seeking individual assistance, please reach out to your local service provider. Even when the stalking is not related to domestic violence, domestic violence and/or sexual assault service providers are often the right people to contact about stalking.

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While every case is different, people who stalk can be very dangerous. Stalkers may threaten, attack, sexually assault, and/or even kill their victims.

Unfortunately, there is no single psychological or behavioral profile that predicts what stalkers will or will not do. Stalkers’ behaviors can escalate from more indirect ways of making contact (like phone calls or texts) to more direct contact (like delivering gifts or showing up where you are).

Many victims struggle with how to respond to their stalkers. Some victims try reasoning with their stalkers to placate them, hoping that “being nice” will make it stop. Many victims minimize their experiences of being stalked, telling themselves “it’s not that bad.” Still others may confront or threaten the stalker or try to “fight back.”

While victims cannot control the stalking behavior, they should feel empowered to take steps to keep themselves, their families, and their loved ones safe.

  1. Trust your instincts. Victims of stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker’s behavior, but stalking poses a real threat of harm. Your safety is paramount.
  2. Call the police if you feel you are in any immediate danger. Explain why the stalker’s actions are causing you fear.
  3. Keep a record or log of each contact with the stalker. You can use this log as an example. Be sure to also document any police reports.
  4. Save evidence when possible. Stalkers often use technology to contact their victims. Save all emails, text messages, photos, and postings on social networking sites as evidence of the stalking behavior. You may also want to consider how to use your technology and your devices in a safer manner. For more information, please visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence Safety Net Project’s Tech Safety Site.
  5. Get connected with a local victim service provider who can assist you in exploring your options as well as discuss safety planning.
  1. Can I get a protection order / no contact order / restraining order against my stalker?
    • Different jurisdictions use different names for protective orders, so it’s vital to check with local victim advocates to learn what orders are available to protect victims in your jurisdiction and what they’re called. While many people associate protective orders with domestic violence cases, many jurisdictions issue protective orders for other crimes and for abuse in other relationships.
    • No matter what they’re called, generally protective orders are issued by courts to regulate the offender’s (also called the respondent) behavior in order to protect the victim (also called the petitioner). For example, orders could prohibit the offender from contacting the victim at all, from abusing or threatening them, and/or from going to certain places (like the victim’s house, work, or school).
  2. What’s the difference between civil and criminal protective court orders?
    • Victims can usually initiate the process for civil protection orders, often called petitioning the court. Civil protection orders are usually separate from the criminal justice system and so do not require that the victim report the offender’s misconduct to law enforcement nor that the offender be criminally charged or convicted.
    • Sometimes criminal courts issue conditions of bail, probation, parole, or a defendant’s conduct during an ongoing criminal case that prohibit offenders from certain conduct, communication, and contact to protect specific people.
  3. What if my stalker violates the protective order?
    • Victims can report a violation of any type of court order; depending on the type of order and jurisdiction, sometimes it should be reported to the court and other times to law enforcement. Check with local victim advocates to learn how to report a violation of your specific order and if the offender can be arrested for violating your specific order.
    • Many protective orders are valid and enforceable no matter where the violation takes place in the U.S., much like a driver’s license is valid no matter where you are in the U.S. Check with local advocates to learn more and if your specific protective order is or not. (The National Center on Protective Orders has information you and an advocate can review together, including a Guide for Victims.)
    • If a Court determines that an offender has violated a civil protection order, the Court can impose a penalty. The nature of that penalty varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but can include fines, imprisonment, supervision, an extension of the underlying protective order, and other things. A violation of a protection order may also result in criminal charges. Check with local victim advocates to learn more about your jurisdiction.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice or advocacy and is being furnished strictly for informational purposes.