Stalking Safety Planning

One of the most difficult abuse tactics to plan around is stalking. Especially if police involvement and protective orders are not possible or helpful in stopping abuse. As a result of stalking, the victim is unable to cut off contact with the abusive partner, making it harder to heal. A stalker causes the victim to feel so much anxiety that they return to the relationship. This is because it seems like the only way to stop their abusive partner is by returning. Stalking safety planning can be done in many ways. Here are some ways to plan for your safety.

What is stalking?

The term “stalking” is defined as one person’s obsessive behavior directed toward another person, behavior that causes the victim to fear for their safety. According to a U.S. Justice Department study on Stalking and Domestic Violence, “Stalking refers to harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. These actions may or may not be a credible threat of serious harm and may or may not be precursors to an assault or murder.” The study found most stalking occurs after a victim leaves a relationship. Women are significantly more likely to be stalked by a spouse or ex-spouse than by a stranger, acquaintance, relative, or friend.

Considering this, if you plan to leave an abusive relationship, it is essential to factor in the possibility of stalking when creating your safety plan.

State laws regarding stalking

The legal definition of stalking varies from state to state, so if you think you are being stalked, it may be helpful to reach out to local law enforcement or a legal advocate to learn more about the specific laws in your area. The National Stalking Awareness Month website also has information about stalking laws in every state as part of their resource database.


stalking safety planning
stalking safety planning

According to statistics published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 76% of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first. In addition, 85% of women who survived murder attempts were stalked. Additionally, 89% of femicide victims had been physically assaulted and stalked in the last year.

Stalking tactics

We know stalking includes a variety of tactics and behaviors. Some are more threatening than others, and some appear innocent or not worth mentioning. Document anything that makes you feel afraid or uncomfortable, no matter how small it seems.

Stalking can be physical or digital, and includes tactics like:

  • Making repeated and unwanted phone calls or texts.

  • Sending unwanted letters or emails.

  • Following or spying on you.

  • Showing up wherever you are without a legitimate reason to be there.

  • Driving by or waiting around at places you frequent such as home, work, or school.

  • Leaving or sending unwanted items, presents, or flowers for you to find.

  • Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.

  • Looking through your property such as trash cans, mail, or cars.

  • Collecting information about you using public records, online search services, or hiring investigators.

  • Monitoring your phone calls, email, social media, or other computer use.

  • Utilizing technology, like hidden cameras or GPS, to track you.

  • Threatening to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.

This list does not include every behavior a stalker might use, as stalking tactics impact the intended victim the most. Threats of violence may be implicit or explicit. Remember, even if stalker behavior is not illegal in your state, their behavior is still abusive.


You are not alone.

Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by a partner and reported it having a related impact on their functioning. There is nothing you can say or do to deserve treatment that way. Stalking is never your fault; it is a tactic the abuser uses to intimidate and frighten you to regain power and control over you.

Stalking safety planning tips

If you suspect someone is stalking you, here are some common safety planning tips you can incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Change your routine by using a different bank or grocery store, and taking a different route to work or school.

  • Do not travel alone; use the buddy system as much as possible.

  • Stay in public areas as much as possible.

  • Notify people in your life such as your friends, family, coworkers, or supervisors, about your stalking concerns.

  • Develop a code word to use when a stalker is present or when you may be in danger. When you text a friend or family member the code word, they know you need help. They follow a previously outlined plan to get you the help you need. This may include calling the police in the process.

  • Install a home security system such as deadbolts, window locks or gates, visible security cameras, and motion-activated outdoor lights.

  • Make a police report and get a protective order against the stalker. This might not prevent stalking, but it will allow you to report any violations of the order to the local police. This will increase the likelihood that the stalker will eventually face legal consequences.

Online stalking safety planning tips

Stalking doesn’t just happen in person. It can also occur online or digitally. Here are some safety planning tips if you suspect stalking online:

  • Block their phone numbers and social media accounts. You can ask your friends and family to block or report their accounts as spam.

  • Contact your e-mail provider to see if they can block an e-mail address.

  • Change your phone number and e-mail address. You can also create customized ones for daily use.

  • Update your internet security on all your electronic devices.

  • Check your electronic devices for spyware.

  • Find out if your state has cyberstalking and online harassment laws.

Safety planning documentation

Also, if you believe you are experiencing stalking, document as much about the behaviors in question as possible. This will create evidence of a pattern of behavior, which can be helpful when reporting to law enforcement.

Saving evidence for your safety plan

It is important to save text messages, emails, voicemails, or letters for documentation. Remember blocking or attempting to block the stalker’s access to you could cause them to retaliate further. The stalker might change their phone numbers, email addresses, or create spam accounts to friend you on social media.

You don’t owe your stalker a response

Whatever you choose to include or not include in your safety plan, remember that you do not owe this abusive person a response. After asking them to stop contacting you, it is typically safer to not respond to them.

Acknowledging their behaviors with a reply to their harassment is likely to be taken as a sign that these tactics are working. This could increase abusive behavior. It also increases the likelihood that you could be accused of collaborating with the abuser, weakening any legal case you have against them moving forward.

If the stalker promises to stop contacting you if you meet with them in person, that is likely an attempt to put you in a vulnerable position. This is so they can use other abusive tactics against you. Threats against your family and friends are used as emotional blackmail to convince you to give the abuser more access to you.

Consider creative documentation

Remember, this situation is not your fault. Abusive individuals are charismatic and manipulative. Once you’ve communicated your boundaries and asked them to cease contact, you do not owe them further communication. It is best to end contact and stay away from them.

Creative safety planning tips

Survivors are creative and resilient. Here are some other creative safety planning tips when dealing with a stalker:

  • Throughout the day, keep your curtains or shades closed or turn on random lights.

  • Display a sign with the name of your security system in your front yard or window.

  • Tell your homeowner’s association or neighborhood watch about the stalking. If you don’t feel comfortable being public about it, mention that you have seen a “suspicious person” frequenting the area and give a physical description.

  • Describe the make, model, and license plate number of any vehicles you know the stalker uses so others can warn you if they see the stalker.

  • Ask your landlord or neighbor to randomly check the property.

  • Ensure that your bank and doctor’s office have password protection for your information.

  • By giving a trusted friend the key, you can ask them to randomly water your plants or feed your pet. This can increase the likelihood of catching the stalker.

  • Make your house harder for the stalker to enter by getting a dog that barks.

  • Install bells and chimes at your house’s entrances and exits.

  • Ask your co-workers to screen your calls

  • Add encrypted passwords to your phone and email

  • If you suspect spyware has been installed on a device, buy a new one, such as a phone or computer.

  • When a stalker frequents your neighborhood, request an officer to patrol the area. Give an anonymous tip about a “suspicious person” in your area if you detect a pattern.

Help create a stalking safety plan

If you think you are a victim of stalking and need safety planning assistance, our advocates are here 24/7 to talk, chat, or text with you about further options and support.

You deserve a life free from abuse and fear. We are here to support you. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat at

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