Q: My friend told me that she is being stalked. I am very worried for her safety. Are stalkers dangerous or just a nuisance?
A: You are right to be concerned for your friend’s safety. Stalkers are people with serious mental disorders. The ones we tend to hear about most often are the cases involving celebrities. We all know what happened when John Lennon’s stalker followed him home and the ex-Beatle did not have any security around him. I have dealt with many cases and most people would be horrified to discover the thoughts that go through a stalker’s mind.
For instance, we were protecting a television personality some time ago who was being stalked by a person from out of State. The stalker “knew” our client from having seen her on television. However, in his mind, they were involved in a “relationship”. He would write to her work telling her that other television presenters were talking “in code” about our client and he on the air.
Our client became so frightened that she was afraid to go outside of her door. The stalker became more and more irrational and added to her state of fear when he declared that he knew she was sending him special messages by the color of clothes she wore when she appeared on television.
In that particular case, the stalker’s identity was known and the fact that he had previous convictions in his own State for a similar offence. It took several months, but eventually he was picked up by the Police on a warrant. The only way that the victim could go about her life was to have bodyguards protecting her 24 hours a day. Without that protection, she would have been looking over her shoulder everywhere she went and not only would it have made her job as a reporter extremely difficult, it would have hindered her ability to enjoy life.
I often advise clients to have the stalker’s handwriting examined and evaluated by a hand writing expert. On another case, the stalker had sent one of my clients several letters that had been computer generated but he had handwritten her address on the envelopes. I took the envelopes to a highly regarded hand writing expert for subsequent examination.
The expert’s evaluation was quite alarming. The stalker knew where our client lived, since he probably followed her on many occasions as he also knew her work address. Apparently he knew she was married and that is where it became very disturbing. The expert was able to tell that the stalker became angry when he wrote about our client’s husband in the letter.
When he mentioned her husband and even when he wrote her surname (which was her husband’s name and became her married name) on the envelope, he applied more pressure to the pen as the ink was darker. That was a tell tale sign of his anger. When I asked the expert if his handwriting gave away any clues to the stalker’s ability to harm our client or her husband, I was told that he was capable of inflicting physical harm, especially against the husband. The hand writing expert believed that if he did become physical that his preferred method of attack would be up close, most likely with a knife.
The Police will usually get involved and assist as much as possible to find a stalker and arrest them, albeit temporarily. Unfortunately, stalking is only a misdemeanor offence so even if a victim is successful in having a stalker arrested, they will most likely be out on bail in a short time. The best result will be if the authorities can have the person medically examined to determine if they are a real threat.
Those victims who can have their own security will obviously be in the safest position since the Police do not have the manpower to sit outside of a victim’s home at night and accompany them through out the routine of their daily life. For those who can not have their own private security, they should become extra observant as they go about their business and vary their routine.
They should pay attention to their rear-view mirror for anyone following behind their vehicle, make notes of vehicle tag numbers and description of suspicious persons. Dead bolts and an alarm system should be installed in the home. You should consider the use of discreet surveillance cameras.
Above all else, do not take chances. You will not know this person and therefore, you do not know what they are capable of doing. If at all possible, avoid traveling alone and always let people know your times of departure and estimated time of arrival. Listen to your inner feelings. If you feel something is not right, there is a good chance that it is not.
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