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Coping with Stalking and Stalkers - Planning and Executing Your Getaway

Important information on planning your escape from a domestic violence situation. For victims of domestic violence, abusive spouses or partners.

This article is meant to be a general guide to planning your escape. It does not contain addresses, contacts, and phone numbers. It is not specific to one state or country. Rather, it describes options and institutions which are common the world over. You should be the one to "fill in the blanks" and locate the relevant shelters and agencies in your domicile.

Read this article on other options and getting help!

Do not leave unprepared. Study and execute every detail of your getaway. This is especially important if your partner is violent. Be sure to make a Safety Plan - how to get out of the house unnoticed and the indispensable minimum items that you should carry with you, even on a short notice.

Here are the recommendations of the Province of Alberta in Canada:

Long before you actually leave, copy all important documents and store them in a safe place. These include: identity cards, health care and social insurance or security Cards, driver's license/registration, credit cards and bank cards, other personal identification (including picture ID), birth certificate, immunisation card for the children, custody order, personal chequebook, last banking statement, and mortgage papers. Make a list of all computer passwords and access codes (for instance: ATM PINs).

When you leave the house, take with you these copied documents as well as the following personal items: prescribed medication, personal hygiene products, glasses/contact lenses, money (borrow from family members, a neighbour, colleague, or friends, if you have to), several changes of clothing (don't forget night wear and underwear), heirlooms, jewellery, photo albums (pictures that you want to keep), craft, needle work, hobby work.

The situation is inevitably more complicated if you are fleeing with your children. In this case, be sure to bring with you their various medications, soother, bottles, favourite toy or blanket, and clothing (again: night wear, underwear). Older kids may carry their own clothes and school books.

 

Make a list of the following and have it on you at all times: addresses and phone numbers of domestic violence shelters, police stations, night courts, community social services, schools in the vicinity, major media, and address and phone and fax numbers of your lawyer and his attorneys. Secure a detailed public transportation map.

Your best bet is to apply to a shelter for a safe place to stay the first few days and nights. Read more about shelters here - Domestic Violence Shelters.

If you can afford to, your next step should be to hire a divorce attorney and file for interim custody. Your divorce papers can be served much later. Your first concern is to keep the children with you safely and legally. Your husband is likely to claim that you have kidnapped them.

But your escape should be only the tip of a long period of meticulous preparations.

We already mentioned that you should make copies of all important documents [see above]. Don't escape from your predicament penniless! Secretly put aside cash for an Escape Fund. Your husband is likely to block your checking account and credit cards. Ask around where you can stay the first week. Will your family or friends accept you? Apply to a domestic violence shelter and wait to be accepted. Be sure to know where you are going!

Make extra sets of keys and documents. Bundle these up with some clothes and keep these "reserve troves" with friends and family. Put one such "trove" in a safety deposit box and give the key to someone you trust. Secure transportation for the day or night of escape. Agree on codes and signals with friends and family ("If I don't call you by 10 PM, something has gone wrong", "If I call you and say that Ron is home, call the police").

You should wait until he is gone and only then leave home. Avoid confrontation over your departure. It can end badly. Do not inform him of your plans. Make excuses to slip away in the days and months before you actually leave. Get him used to your absence.

Should you get the police involved?

 


 


Getting Law Enforcement Authorities and the Police Involved

This article is meant to be a general guide to planning your escape. It does not contain addresses, contacts, and phone numbers. It is not specific to one state or country. Rather, it describes options and institutions which are common the world over. You should be the one to "fill in the blanks" and locate the relevant shelters and agencies in your domicile.

Read this article on other options and getting help!

If you want the nightmare to end, there is a rule of thumb which requires courage and determination to implement:

Involve the police whenever possible.

Report his crimes as soon as you can and make sure you retain a copy of your complaint. Your abuser counts on your fear of him and on your natural propensity to keep domestic problems a secret. Expose him to scrutiny and penalties. This will make him re-consider his actions next time around.

Physical assault is a criminal offence as are rape and, in some countries, stalking and marital rape. If you have been physically or sexually assaulted, go to the nearest hospital and document your injuries. Be sure to obtain copies of the admission form, the medical evaluation report, and of any photographs and exam results (X-rays, computerised tomography-CT, biopsies, and so on).

If your abusive intimate partner verbally threatens you, your nearest and dearest, or your property or pets - this is also criminal conduct. To the best of your ability, get him on tape or make him repeat his threats in the presence of witnesses. Then promptly file a complaint with the police.

If your abuser forces you to remain indoors, in isolation, he is committing an offence. Forced confinement or imprisonment is illegal. While so incarcerated, failing to provide you with vital necessities - such as air, water, medical aid, and food - is yet another criminal act.

Damage to property rendering it inoperative or useless - is mischief. It is punishable by law. Same goes for cruelty to animals (let alone children).

If your partner swindled you out of funds or committed fraud, theft, or perjury (by falsifying your signature on a checking or credit card account, for instance) - report him to the police. Financial abuse is as pernicious as the physical variety.

In most countries, the police must respond to your complaint. They cannot just file it away or suppress it. They must talk to you and to your partner separately and obtain written and signed statements from both parties. The police officer on the scene must inform you of your legal options. The officer in charge must also furnish you with a list of domestic violence shelters and other forms of help available in your community.

If you suspect that a member of your family is being abused, the police, in most countries, can obtain a warrant permitting entry into the premises to inspect the situation. They are also authorised to help the victim relocate (leave) and to assist her in any way, including by applying on her behalf and with her consent to the courts to obtain restraining and emergency protection orders. A breach of either of these orders may be an indictable criminal offence as well as a civil offence.

If you decide to pursue the matter and if there are reasonable grounds to do so, the police will likely lay charges against the offender and accuse your partner of assault. Actually, your consent is only a matter of formality and is not strictly required. The police can charge an offender on the basis of evidence only.

If the team on the scene refuses to lay charges, you have the right to talk to a senior police officer. If you cannot sway them to act, you can lay charges yourself by going to the court house and filing with a Justice of the Peace (JP). The JP must let you lay charges. It is your inalienable right.

You cannot withdraw charges laid by the police and you most probably will be subpoenaed to testify against the abuser.

Should you get the courts involved?


 


Getting the Courts Involved - Restraining Orders and Peace Bonds

This article is meant to be a general guide to planning your escape. It is not a substitute for legal help and opinion. It does not contain addresses, contacts, and phone numbers. It is not specific to one state or country. Rather, it describes options and institutions which are common the world over. You should be the one to "fill in the blanks" and locate the relevant shelters and agencies in your domicile.

Read this article on other options and getting help!

If you want the nightmare to end, there is a rule of thumb which requires courage and determination to implement:

Involve the courts whenever possible.

In many countries, the first step is to obtain a restraining order from a civil court as part of your divorce or custody proceedings or as a stand-alone measure.

In some countries, the police applies to the court for an emergency protection order on your behalf. The difference between a protection order and a restraining order is that the former is obtained following an incident of domestic violence involving injury or damage to property, it is available immediately, granted at the police's request, and issued even outside court hours.

Many restraining orders are granted ex parte, without the knowledge or presence of your abusive partner, based solely on a signed and sworn affidavit submitted by you. A typical emergency restraining order forbids the offender from visiting certain locations such as the children's schools, your workplace, or your home. It is later reviewed. At the review you should produce evidence of the abuse and witnesses. If the emergency or temporary order upheld it is fixed for a period of time at the judge's discretion.

Always carry the restraining order with you and leave copies at your place of employment and at your children's day-care and schools. You will have to show it to the police if you want to get your abuser arrested when he violates its terms. Breach of the restraining order is a criminal offence.

The wording of the order is not uniform - and it is crucial. "The police shall arrest" is not the same as "The police may arrest" the offender if he ignores the conditions set forth in the order. Don't forget to ask the court to forbid him to contact you by phone and other electronic means. Seek a new restraining order if you had moved and your place of residence or your workplace or the children's day-care or school changed.

If the abuser has visitation rights with the children, these should be specified in the order. Include a provision allowing you to deny the visit if he is intoxicated. The order can be issued against your abuser's family and friends as well if they harass and stalk you.

A restraining order is no substitute for taking precautionary measures to safeguard yourself and your children. Abusers often ignore the court's strictures and taunt you all the same. The situation can easily escalate and get out of hand. Be prepared for such unpleasant and dangerous eventualities.

Avoid empty and unlit areas, carry relevant emergency numbers with you at all times, install a personalised alarm system, wear comfortable shoes and clothes to allow you to run if attacked. Trust your senses - if you feel that you are being followed, go to a public place (restaurant, department store, cinema). Learn by rote the transit routes of all public transport around your home and workplace and make special arrangement with the cab operator nearest to you. You may also wish to consider buying a weapon or, at least, a spray can.

If you were physically or sexually assaulted or if you are being stalked or harassed, keep records of the incidents and a list of witnesses. Never hesitate to lay charges against your abuser, his family and friends. See your charges through by testifying against the offenders. Try not to withdraw the charges even if you worked out your problems. Abusers learn the hard way and a spell in jail (or even a fine) is likely to guarantee your future safety.

Based on a criminal police file, the criminal court can also force your abuser (and his family and friends if they have been harassing you) to sign a peace bond in the presence of a judge. It is a pledge of good behaviour, often requiring your abuser to stay away from your home and place of work for a period of 3-12 months. Some peace bonds forbid the abuser from carrying weapons.

Have the peace bond with you at all times and leave copies at your children's day-care and schools and at your place of employment. You will have to show it to the police if you want to get your abuser arrested when he violates its terms. Breach of the peace bond is a criminal offence.

Do not meet your abuser or speak to him while the restraining order or peace bond are in effect. The courts are likely to take a very dim view of the fact that you yourself violated the terms of these instruments of law issued for your protection and at your request.

There are many additional remedies the courts can apply. They can force your abusive partner to surrender to you households items and clothing, to grant you access to bank accounts and credit cards, to defray some costs, to pay alimony and child support, to submit to psychological counselling and evaluation, and to grant the police access to his home and workplace. Consult your family or divorce attorney as to what else can be done.

In theory, the courts are the victims' friends. The truth, however, is a lot more nuanced. If you are not represented, your chances to get protection and prevail (to have your day in court) are slim. The courts also show some institutional bias in favour of the abuser. Yet, despite these hurdles there is no substitute to getting the legal system to weigh in and restrain your abuser. Use it wisely and you will not regret it.

We deal with two particular court-related situations - custody and giving testimony - in our next two articles.

Visit the HealthyPlace.com Support Network area for abuse and personality disorders support groups.


 

next: Danse Macabre - The Dynamics of Spousal Abuse

APA Reference
Vaknin, S. (2009, October 1). Coping with Stalking and Stalkers - Planning and Executing Your Getaway, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/malignant-self-love/coping-with-stalking-and-stalkers-planning-and-executing-your-getaway

Last Updated: July 5, 2018

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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