In Kansas, as in most other states, stalking is a crime. Kansas statute states Stalking must contain (1) intentional harassment; (2) course of conduct, not single action; (3) targets a specific person; and (4) places a reasonable person in fear for the safety of a specific person and/or immediate family member. In 2018, Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) documented 898 cases of Stalking reported to law enforcement. Within those cases, 93% of Kansas victims knew their stalking.
SPARC (Stalking Prevention, Awareness & Resource Center) reports 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once a week, using more than one method. Acts of Stalking can include: surveillance (follows, shows up unexpectedly, waits places, tracking software, social media monitoring); Life Invasions (unwanted phone call/texts/email, public humiliations, harass family/friends); Interference (financial/work sabotage, custody interference, keeps from leaving somewhere); or Intimidation (threats, property damage, forced confrontations, threats/actual harm to self/others).
What You Can Do if You Are Being Stalked
First and foremost, you should think about your safety. Keep in mind, different stalkers respond differently. Actions taken that increase safety for one victim can, in different circumstances, increase risk for another. An advocate can assist you in developing a safety plan that takes into consideration your specific circumstances. You can contact your local domestic violence/sexual assault program in Kansas for this service. The following suggests are recommended by experts to increase the safety of victims:
- Report each incident of stalking to your local law enforcement agency. While officers may not have enough evidence to arrest the stalker, it is important to develop this "official" record of the stalking behavior. Keep in mind that if a law enforcement report is made, the information may become public.
- Be clear and firm. Some stalkers believe there are hidden messages within conversations they have with their victims that encourages them to continue the stalking. If your stalker is a former intimate partner or someone who believes you want to be in a relationship, it can be helpful to be clear and firm early on about wanting to end the relationship. The longer the relationship goes on, the harder it is for the stalker to get the message that you are not interested.
- Cease communication. Instead, let the "system" communicate with the stalker through a law enforcement officer, probation officer, or through a protection order. A formal letter from you, given to your stalker by law enforcement can document your fear and demand for no contact.
- Avoid contact. Try to avoid mediation, joint therapy, shared custody, face-to-face child exchanges, or other forms of contact.
- Consider obtaining a protection from stalking order. A protection from stalking order may or may not be effective in ending the stalking. These orders tend to be most effective if issued when the stalking behavior first begins, and where violations of the order are taken very seriously by law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. Keep in mind the face-to-face hearing contact could be detrimental contact. This protection order can be applied in-person at Courthouse or by online portal.
- Keep a log of all stalking behaviors, including the following:
- date of incident:
- times and places occurred;
- description of stalking behavior; and
- witnesses to the incident.
- Retain and record all communications possible, including but not limited to the following:
- phone calls;
- phone and text messages; and
- e-mail message.
- Prepare for your safety, taking into consideration the following:
- Critical phone numbers, such as law enforcement, friends, domestic violence or sexual assault programs, and other important people or services you may need after reaching a safe location, such as neighbors, attorneys, prosecutors, medical care, child care, or pet care.
- Keep a reserve of necessities in case you have to leave your home quickly, such as a suitcase in the trunk of your car or at a friend's house; include money, medication, toys or items important to children.
- Consider having important documents such as passports, immigration documents, birth certificates, and social security numbers readily accessible.
- Alert people who may be part of your safety plan, such as law enforcement, employers, co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, or security personnel.
- A cell phone for 911 access (if you do not have one, it can be provided to you by your local domestic violence/sexual assault program).
Warning: if your cell phone was purchased by your stalker, or their name is on the account, your stalker might be able to use its GPS features to locate you.
Other Safety Measures
Consider whether any of the following measures would help decrease or prevent some of your danger:
- Changing locks, securing all spare keys;
- Installing outside lighting and trimming bushes and vegetation around your residence;
- Identifying locations that may be safe for you, such as police stations, local churches, or other public places;
- Getting an unlisted number or, if you have financial means, using a "dummy" answering machine connected to your published phone line. The private or unlisted number can be reserved for close friends or family and the stalker may not realize you have another line.
- Varying travel routes and other routines;
- Limiting time walking or jogging alone; arrange for others to be with you when arriving and leaving from work;
- Informing a trusted neighbor about the situation and, if possible, giving them a description or a photo of the stalker, asking them to call law enforcement if they see anything unusual.
- Try not to be alone at places the stalker typically contacts you.
These important resources can assist you with safe services, helpful information, and emotional support.