Issue 17

Stalkers

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An individual with an unhealthy obsession for another person.

There are a number of definitions of "stalker" in our society today.  You can have stalkers on your website or your FaceBook account.  These people, while "creepy", generally cannot do you direct harm.  The anonymity of the Internet gives you some level of safety.

Where things can become dangerous is when an Internet stalker gets hold of your personal information - your name and address, for instance.  More commonly, though, stalkers take the form of someone who already personally knows you.  A co-worker.  An old flame.  A neighbor. 

You ended a relationship (or didn't allow one to start), and they weren't ready for the rejection.  They are determined to remain a part of your life.

This person has all of your personal information.  They may know where you live, where you work, where you go to the store and where your kids go to school.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from an old high school buddy.  He has a friend that now has a stalker in her life.  My friend knows that we teach various Personal Safety classes, and was wondering if I could help her out.  I told him to have her call me to see what we could do for her.

It seems that she broke off a relationship with this guy - they had been seeing each other for about a year.  He didn't want to go along with the program, and wouldn't accept the situation.  Now, we're not talking about adolescent, first-love.  Both of them are in their late 40's.

She has two police reports filed about his conduct since the break-up.  The second one came as a result of her going to take out the garbage one evening, and finding him lurking on her property - dressed all in black.  When she asked him what he was doing, he replied that he just had to see if she was dating anyone else.

I spent 45 minutes or so with her on the phone gathering some information about her lifestyle.  We determined that her best course of action was to first get a Restraining Order on this guy. 

I explained to her that while this was important, it was nothing more than a piece of paper, and she needed to be able to protect herself in the event this nut decided to disregard the Order.  Doubly so, since this guy had not been dissuaded by having the police called twice in the past.

Because of her remote, rural Sonoma County location, I recommended she get a handgun and proper firearms safety training.  In a dangerous situation, even if she were able to get to the phone to call the police, it was going to be quite a bit of time before they got to her home.  

Until she could get a handgun (a minimum of 10 days in California), I recommended she purchase some pepper spray canisters.  I walked her through the basics on how to select and effectively use the right one for her lifestyle.

So far, so good.  Stalkers generally don't care about the law.  They are focused to the point of obsession.  They are not satisfied until they have the object of their obsession.

Don't let that be you.

Safety Tip:  If you suspect you have a stalker, you must think like a stalker.  Where would they hide?  Where and when are you most vulnerable (generally when you are alone)?  What routines do you follow every day/week/month? 

Use this information to build defenses.  Randomize your old habits.  Have doors re-keyed and new locks/dead bolts installed.  Have land lines and cell phones for communications.  Install motion detector lights and alarms.  Obtain personal defense tools and training.

Next Issue:  Safely Storing Defensive Devices



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