Unwanted contact by stalking
Personal safety and seeking help
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Stalking is a crime
Stalking is a criminal offence everywhere in Australia and interstate police will cooperate to support victims moving into new locations.
For emergency assistance
Call the Police on 000
You are not to blame for the behaviour of the stalker, whatever your relationship is or was to them. Stalking often begins as a minor encounter and turns into a distressing experience that disempowers you, disrupts your life and leaves you feeling anxious.
Stalkers may also threaten and harass your family members, pets, friends or workmates. If unable to harass you, stalkers may enlist their friends or family to do so on their behalf and you may be stalked by a stranger who may follow, approach, try to engage you in conversation, make repeated telephone calls or send text messages.
If a stalker persists for more than two weeks the chances are they will persist for at least six to twelve months and typically it is long-term stalkers who become violent. For this reason it is very important to contact the police and seek further advice and assistance.
Stalking causes you fear or distress when a person keeps contacting or spying on you when you don’t want them to.
- Phone, SMS, answering machine and voicemail messages
- Notes, letters, email, faxes, unwanted romantic, bizarre or sinister ‘gifts’
- Direct or indirect threats to harm you or your loved ones or threats to self-harm
- themselves in order to get a response.
- Under surveillance, followed or approached directly (which may result in an assault
- Harassed or stalked online in chat rooms.
- People loiter near your home or workplace
- Your property damaged or graffitied
- Malicious gossip or lies spread about you
- False legal actions started against you (to maintain some form of contact)
- Goods and services ordered (or cancelled) on your behalf
- Your identity traced through the Internet.
The stalker may be:
- Obsessed about seeking a relationship
- Lacking social skills to form a relationship
- A rejected partner, parent, or associate
- Resentful or desiring revenge over a perceived injustice
- A predator, enjoying power and control.
Avoid contact with the stalker
Give one plain, direct message that their attention is unwanted and not to contact you again. Avoid any communication and don’t reason with them as it may be misinterpreted as giving a second chance or playing hard to get. Don’t return gifts or respond to insults or verbal taunts. Get an answering machine to screen your calls. Contact prolongs the stalking as it acknowledges and ‘rewards’ the stalker. To many stalkers a negative relationship is better than no relationship at all.
Document the stalking
Don’t delete answering machine messages. Date letters, cards and gifts and keep them in a secure, lockable location. Detail all unwanted communication with dates and times for future investigation and action.
Protect your information
Only give your address and phone number to trusted people and businesses. Destroy old mail as it may contain private information. Get an unlisted phone number and a lockable mailbox, or a post office box.
Inform people you can trust
Tell your family, friends, child’s school, workmates, and, if appropriate, trusted neighbours you are being stalked. They can offer a support network which is important for your emotional well-being as well as your safety. Also, if they are unaware of your situation they may give the stalker information about you. If you can, provide them with a photo or description of the stalker and vehicle. They may help record their movements.
Increase your personal safety
Improve home and work security. Vary your daily routine as your stalker may rely on this for contact. Ask the local police to give you a free home security check. Make a safety plan in case something does happen. Think about who you can phone and where you can safely go.
Contact the police
If you are being stalked, and it has has persisted for more than two weeks, call your local police station and make an appointment to see a police officer. Bring evidence of the stalking as it will help establish your case, plus the police may not be able to act immediately if there is a lack of evidence. Ask to be assigned an officer that you can contact directly so you don’t have to re-explain the situation each time you have fresh evidence. Report each new incident and keep a copy of any ‘incident reports’ you make to the police in a secure place.
Could give you a false sense of security and may not deter those who have stalked you for a long time, people with a history of violence or a strong sense of power over the victim. It may also increase an ex-partners sense of shame and rejection with a violent outcome. It is important to have a safety plan before applying for an intervention order. Also see our webpage How to apply for an Intervention Order.
Frankston Magistrates’ Court
Phone: 9784 5777
or ask the police to do it on your behalf.
Seek help and support
You and your loved ones, particularly children, can be badly affected by stalking and should be encouraged to seek help if needed. Talk to a counsellor or call an anonymous service. Support organisations, community health clinics and family doctors can provide support, counselling and referrals. If your stalker is an ex-partner or family member, domestic violence services can also offer support. Tell them you are a stalking victim and emphasize personal information must be kept confidential.
Victims of Crime Helpline
Phone: 1800 819 817