If you are thinking of asking for help from the police or seeking an injunction through a civil court, you will need evidence that you are a victim of harassment. One of the most common pieces of evidence is a log, which details each incident. Depending on the kind of behaviour your stalker displays, you might also be able to use photographic evidence, copies of electronic messages or video as evidence too.
A good log documents everything that has been happening to you. It’s important because it demonstrates to police, friends or family exactly how the stalker’s behaviour has impacted on your life.
A log should include all events you believe to be connected to your stalker. This can include phone calls, gifts, visits to your house or work, public sightings and electronic communication such as text messages, emails or cyber stalking events.
How do I keep a good log?
A good log needs to be kept contemporaneously, meaning that it needs to be updated as the incident is occurring or as soon as possible afterwards. If you keep a log in this way, it is more likely to be used as evidence in any legal proceedings.
The log should contain the following details about the incident:
- the date
- the time
- the location where the incident takes place
- what happens
- how it makes you feel
The details of what happens should include what is said and/or done. If the stalker is present, try to detail what they are wearing as well as the make, model and registration details of any vehicle they drive or are passenger in.
Every suspicious incident you believe is connected to your stalker should go into your log, including silent phonecalls.
You should try to keep copies of all electronic messages your stalker sends you, including texts, emails and IM conversations. You can print out hard copies of emails, take screenshots of IM conversations and some mobile handsets will allow you to download your texts and even your call lists onto your computer for future reference.
You should try and keep any gifts and letters your stalker sends you, handling them as little as possible and placing them in a plastic bag or bin liner so the police can examine them. If you receive a package that you know is from your stalker, place it straight into the evidence bag without opening it. Handwritten letters might be useful if the police decide to do handwriting analysis or try to gain fingerprint impressions. Any physical forms of communication, including gifts, could be used as evidence of a course of conduct.
Photographic evidence of stalking activity can be useful. If your stalker vandalises a piece of your property, you should try and get photographic evidence of this as soon after the event as possible. Capturing stalkers themselves in photographs can also be helpful. However, there have been cases where victims have taken photographs of an offender and the offender has made allegations of harassment against the victim, which is an incredibly traumatic experience for them. If you are thinking of obtaining photographic evidence of your stalker, you might want to consider seeking advice from a member of the police first to get more information about the best way of going about this.
Like photographs, video can be used as evidence of stalking behaviour. Some police forces might be able to loan you CCTV equipment if your stalker repeatedly approaches your house or vandalises your property. You can also use a handheld camera for behaviours like following or verbal harassment. Just as taking photographs might prompt a stalker to accuse their victim of harassment, video might provoke the same reaction. Therefore, it might be worth seeking advice from the police before doing this to make sure you are protected.