Here’s What You Can Do if Someone is Stalking You
Someone might have been getting on your nerves – following you, making numerous unwanted phone calls, or even verbally attacking you online.
Do these situations seem familiar to you? If they do, you are possibly a victim of stalking. If you encounter any of such stalking instances, it is ideal to put an end to them, or you may find yourself living in constant insecurity or fear. Here are several ways you may want to consider in dealing with the problem.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Whether or not you are a victim of stalking, your actions online and offline play an important part in keeping you safe. Avoid leaving too many traces of you, especially online, by sharing information like your residence or current location, as these may give stalkers ideas of when and where to strike.
If you already are a victim of stalking, you should all the more refrain from sharing overly personal information, which may provide opportunities for further harassment. If you know who exactly is stalking you, remove that person from your social media accounts, and avoid having any contact with him.
Should things spiral out of control, there are avenues under the law which you may want to consider:
- Making a police report or magistrate’s complaint for unlawful stalking
- Applying for a protection order
- Seeking a compensation order
Before reporting the stalker to the authorities, you may consider mediating the issue.
Not all stalking cases, however, may be resolved via mediation. For example, only cases involving interpersonal relations are suitable for mediation at the Community Mediation Centre. Examples of such cases include stalking incidents involving:
- Family members
- Landlord and tenants
Compared to seeking legal remedies which generally require the spending of more time and money, mediation may be ideal for an effective and efficient solution against stalkers.
Making a Police Report or Magistrate’s Complaint
Unlawful stalking is a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA).
If you are being stalked, you may make a police report, or file a Magistrate’s Complaint.
Section 7 of the POHA illustrates several examples of stalking. In essence, an act(s) or a person may constitute unlawful stalking if you feel harassed, alarmed or distressed by these acts.
Acts associated with stalking may include:
- Following you;
- Communicating with you;
- Loitering outside your home or the places you frequent; or
- Sending or circulating materials such as emails with suggestive comments on you, or revealing photographs of you.
Apart from identifying the act(s) of stalking, there are several factors which the court may consider when deciding whether to convict an alleged stalker. These factors can be found under section 7(5) of the POHA and include the number of occasions, frequency and duration of the acts or omissions, and the likely effects of the alleged stalker’s course of conduct on the victim.
For example, in the case of PP v Lai Zhi Heng, the accused was convicted of stalking after he followed the victim on many occasions, sent numerous text messages to her and even put up fliers with her nude photographs in public areas near her home. Such acts caused the victim to suffer “anguish and torment” for nearly 2 years.
First time offenders will be liable to up to a $5,000 fine and/or up to 12 months’ jail.
On the other hand, repeat offenders will be liable to up to a $10,000 fine and/or up to 2 years’ jail. For example, a man who stalked his ex-boyfriend again after serving 6 months’ jail for stalking him was slapped with an additional 9 months’ jail.
Applying for a Protection Order
You may also apply for a protection order against the stalker to protect you from further instances of stalking. The court, through the order, can prohibit the offender from continuing his communication or behaviour, or requiring him to attend counselling or mediation. Failure to comply with a protection order is an offence under the POHA.
For urgent cases, the court may award an expedited protection order.
Apart from criminal proceedings, you may sue the stalker for monetary compensation.
There is a variety of measures you can take to stop yourself from being stalked. These range from self-help measures, criminal sanctions and even civil remedies. If you are a victim of stalking, you should consider taking action as soon as possible to protect yourself from further distress.