A protection order is only part of your safety plan.
A protection order does not guarantee your safety, and it does not guarantee the stalking behavior will stop. It is essential that you continue to be vigilant and take steps to ensure your safety.
Your 10-point Plan for Safety
1. Review the "STEPS" Safety Plan
If you think that you or someone you know is being stalked, we encourage you to follow the “STEPS” action plan created by stalking experts to engage in active and ongoing safety planning:
- See it (and acknowledge it as stalking)
- Threat Assessment
- Evidence Collection
For more details, see Safety Tips & Resources
2. Ensure the Stalking Protection Order was served
The sooner the Stalking Protection Order is served on the respondent, and a Return of Service is filed with the court, the sooner the Order can be enforced if the stalker violates it.
To check on the status of service, call the law enforcement agency responsible for service to see if the respondent has been served. You can also contact the court where the Order was filed to see if the Return of Service has been filed. You can also register to get notified of service through an automated protective order notification system called SAVIN Protective Order (SAVIN PO) although sometimes there are delays with notification.
Once the order has been served be sure to call the police to report any violations of the order.
3. Stay Organized & Have a Plan
- Make sure you always have a copy of your order on you. It’s a good idea to give copies to trusted family and friends, or those who might need to call the police to help enforce the order (i.e. employer, landlord).
- Request as many free certified copies of the stalking protection order as you need when you file the order with the court. You can also come back to the courthouse to get extra copies if needed.
- Keep extra copies with you at all times, at home and in your car.
- When going to court, make a plan for being as safe as possible there. Ask the court what safety options are available for you at the courthouse.
4. Take Precautions
Below are some safety tips from the Stalking Resource Center. Please visit the Stalking Resource Center for more information
- Keep a cell phone with you at all times in case you need to call for help.
- Change your routine, such as the route you take to work or the time you go to the store.
- Relocate to a confidential address, change your locks, or install a home security system.
- Document any stalking behaviors. You can use the Stalking Incident Log.
- Do not interact with the person stalking or harassing you as it may reinforce their behavior.
- When out of the house or workplace, try not to travel alone and try to stay in public areas.
5. Get to a safe place
If you are in immediate danger, locate a safe place. Consider going to:
- Police station
- A family or friend’s residence
- Place of worship
- Public area
6. Talk to your family and friends
- Tell family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the situation so they can alert you or call 911 if they see something suspicious and to provide help in an emergency.
- Talk to your children about what to do if they see the stalker.
- Give family and friends a photo of the stalker if possible and ask them to call the police if they see the stalker nearby.
7. Stay safe at home
- Identify escape routes out of your residence.
- Fix any broken windows or doors.
- Install dead bolts.
- Change locks and secure spare keys.
- Inform neighbors or residence managers.
- Consider putting together a “stalking sack” that includes a stalking log, camera, information about the stalker, etc.
8. Stay safe at work or school
- If possible, give a picture of the stalker to security and friends at work or school.
- Tell your supervisors. They have a responsibility to keep you safe at work.
- Ask a security guard to walk you to your car or to the bus.
- Give school, work or other venues a copy of your stalking protection order.
- Make sure school or work do not give your contact information to anyone.
9. Stay safe online and with cell phone
It is important to maintain safe behaviors online and with your technology:
- If the stalker previously had access to your cell phone, change security passwords and GPS location information.
- If the stalker previously had access to your car, change GPS settings in your car.
- Do NOT open any electronic links from the stalker -- they could be spyware with tracking technology.
For more information and resources on cyber, digital or online abuse:
10. Keep any new addresses confidential
- Learn about the WA State Address Confidentiality Program: 800-822-1065
- If you have relocated to a new address and you need to report a new stalking incident to the police, consider reporting from a neutral location (restaurant, store, coffee shop) so that your new address will not be listed in the incident report.
You're not in this alone
More safety tips and stalking related resources are available through numerous national and local organizations.