If you are being stalked or harassed, it is important to gather evidence to show that this behaviour is limiting your freedom, validating your feelings of fear, and that you want this person to stay away from you. You may have to ask this person to stop contacting you, or you may have to rely on someone else to do that for you. You may want to seek a restraining order that prohibits this person from contacting you. Under new changes to the Family Law Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act, you may now also seek a restraining order if you have reasonable grounds to fear for your own safety or for the safety of any child in your lawful custody. It is a good idea to seek legal counselling on your options. It is important to remember that the most dangerous type of stalker is one with whom you have previously had an intimate relationship with because they know you so well.
Below is a list of important things you can do to help prove that you are being stalked and/or harassed.
Report all incidents to the police. Criminal harassment constitutes repeatedly following you from place to place, repeatedly communicating with you directly or indirectly, besetting or watching you at any location you are known to be, or engaging in threatening conduct. The police will determine if harassment is occurring; some incidents only have to occur once for police to lay a charge. It is best to have all information on file, even if it is the first incident. Remember that any contact that you may have with your stalker that is agreed to or initiated by you can work against you.
Write down every occurrence on a calendar or in a notebook. Only use it for this purpose as this document may be subpoenaed to court. It is helpful if your notes include:
the date, time and duration of each incident.
what the stalker was wearing.
licence plate numbers, vehicle make and colour.
exactly what the stalker said/did and what you said/did. It is better not to record your feelings in this notebook. If this document is subpoenaed to court, it is safer for you if your stalker is not able to get any additional personal information about you.
It is best to make your notes immediately after each incident occurs, and to make no further changes. If there have been no changes, then you are allowed to refer to these notes if you are ever on the witness stand.
Start your notes as soon as you suspect that you may have a problem. If you can, it is helpful to ask someone to witness any incident(s), and for them to make notes as well.
It is important for you to keep all evidence, such as letters, tapes of his messages on your answering machine, photographs of flowers or gifts he or she sends to you, etc.
There are some ways for you to protect yourself in a stalking/harassment situation. Victim Services of York Region and some shelters and community support groups have programs which will provide you with a cell phone if it is financially difficult for you to do so yourself.
Always carry things with you that you might need if you suddenly have to go to a safe place.
[Refer to “What to Take with You”]
Trust your own instincts around your safety.