Break-ups and divorces are painful enough to deal with on their own, but if a former partner or estranged spouse is stalking you, it’s time to seek legal action for your own protection and peace of mind.
It is difficult to provide a precise definition of stalking. Stalkers typically use several methods to harass victims. Stalking can consist of many behaviors, such as:
- Regularly sending unsolicited gifts
- Unwanted and malicious phone calls or e-mails
- Damage to property
- Physical or sexual assault
What to do if you are being stalked by an estranged spouse or former partner:
Keep Any Evidence You Have
Though it can be painful to have a reminder of this person’s behavior, you need to have evidence of your stalker’s actions. Don’t delete voicemails, e-mails, phone records, or letters from your stalker. These will be essential to prove a crime has been committed, and can be used as evidence in a criminal or civil suit in the state of Tennessee.
Do Not Talk To Your Stalker
Because stalkers are obsessive by definition, it is important that you avoid contact with them. Any willingness on your part to talk to this person will likely be misconstrued by them as a signal that they should up their level of activity.
Contact Local Law Enforcement
If you feel you are in danger you should contact law enforcement immediately. Depending on the evidence you have, they may be able to arrest your stalker.
In Tennessee, a first-offense stalking offense is a Class A misdemeanor. Punishment can include up to 364 days in jail, and a fine of up to $2,500.
Aggravated stalking is a more serious crime. Stalking is considered aggravated if:
- The stalker displayed a deadly weapon
- The stalker has already been convicted of stalking
- The victim is a minor
- The stalker makes a credible threat to the victim
File an Order of Protection or Restraining Order
If you are being stalked, you can obtain an Order of Protection or Restraining Order through the Tennessee courts. It isn’t necessary to file suit against the stalker for a restraining order to be issued. Once an order has been signed by a judge, your stalker is required by law to stay away from you, and not to contact you in any way.
The Tennessee Courts website has the necessary forms to file restraining and no-contact orders.
Avoid Going Out Alone
If you have a stalker, avoid walking, jogging, or biking by yourself. Ask trusted friends to walk you to your car at night.
Change Up Your Schedule When Possible
While it is nice to have a standard daily routine, this can be dangerous for someone with a stalker. Consider going to different restaurants, coffee shops, and taking different ways to work, or different bus routes.
Remember Not To Blame Yourself
None of the things happening to you are your fault, but take every precaution to keep you and your family safe.