A friend confided that one of her patients is stalking her. In addition to knowing where she worked, he found out her home address and cell phone number. A restraining order is in effect, but that doesn’t help to reduce her fear.
This got me thinking, if I found out someone was stalking me, what would I do different? Why wait until after someone has already begun stalking me to make those changes? By that time, it might be too late.
Not long before my friend told me about her patient, a devastating crime by someone who was reportedly having a psychotic break sent shock-waves through my closely knit neighborhood.
As a psychologist, there have been times that I have been in fear of the patients I was trying to help. I’ve had multiple patients try to kiss me. Some patients angrily showed up at my office after I could not find that they met criteria for a certain diagnosis (one which would have given them disability benefits). Others were upset after I had them hospitalized for their own safety.
At work, I keep my panic button nearby and my door locked when I’m not with a patient. But after learning about events such as these that occurred outside of the office, I decided to take another look at what I can do to add another layer of protection for me and my family at home.
Most violent crimes are committed by someone known to the victim. My husband didn’t understand why I wanted film on our garage windows. He thought it was a good thing if someone was casing houses and saw cars in the garage. It wasn’t until he learned about my friend that I was able to convince him that if someone was casing our house, it might not be random. And even if we are home, I wouldn’t want them to know.
Here are some of the things you can do:
Change cell/home phone voicemail
Use a standard greeting that doesn’t have your name
sets off an ear-piecing alarm when triggered
wristband contains 3-6 bursts of pepper spray
Legally obtained Firearms*
*Do not keep firearms in the home if there is anyone who is at risk for suicide. Keep your firearm locked (especially if you have children) and the ammunition stored separately from the firearm. I’d also recommend that everyone receive professional gun safety training if there is a firearm in the house.
Even a small dog can be a deterrent
Get to know your neighbors
Ask them to let you know if they see anyone suspicious in your neighborhood
Get a PO Box
If you or a relative (spouse, parent) in law enforcement – you may be able to have your address listed as a PO Box on your driver’s license
Self Defense Classes
If you are a renter
Extra locks on windows
Battery operated doorbell camera (Ring Doorbell 2)
Solar powered motion activated outdoor lights (they take only one screw; if you can’t put any screws, you can at least leave it on your patio & it will brighten if anyone triggers it)
Before buying a home
Meet with an attorney to set up a trust. When you go to make an offer on a home, make sure your realtor knows you will be purchasing it under the name of the trust. A trust will be an expense, but hopefully one that will be worth it.
If you own a home
Claim it on real estate websites (e.g., Zillow, Realtor.com) and remove any pictures, which someone could use to learn the layout of your home.
Check the statutes in your county and see if you can have your name removed from the property appraiser’s property search website (the fact that my county’s website asks you to confirm that you will not use the info to stalk someone says a lot about this being a problem).
Motion activated floodlight camera (has cloud storage fee)
Motion activated floodlights
Trim trees/bushes around doors/windows
Take in any objects that could be used to break a window
Don’t “hide a key.” Instead consider a Keypad Deadbolt
Put frosted film on the windows around your door or in your garage
Consider home security companies
When psychologists are working to keep people safe who are at danger of hurting themselves or others, we talk about creating “layers” of protection. I’m taking a similar approach with my self-protection.
What layers of protection are you using for your personal security?