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essence of love thumbnailKangana Ranaut, who has had her share of stalker-induced harassment, has finally got justice. According to a Mumbai Mirror report, Akash Bhardwaj, a fellow gym-goer who was stalking the Bollywood actor, has finally been taken into custody. Fed up with receiving letters from him about the ‘affair’ they never had, Kangana had a filmi showdown with him at the gym, after which he was promptly arrested.

But incidents like this don’t only happen to celebrities. It can happen to anyone. So what should one do in such a scenario? We tell you how to protect yourself from a stalker:

Record messages

It might be a little difficult for you, considering the amount of stress and panic a stalker can cause, but it is recommended to keep a track of all the incidents or messages a stalker has been sending you. You could note the date and timings, as all of it will act as evidence if and when things get out of hand, and the the police have to take charge.

Dr Sharita Shah, consultant woman and child psychiatrist at the Bombay Hospital says, “While it is wise to record messages or conversations, make sure you do not prolong any interaction with the stalker as you could unintentionally end up giving out personal details.”

You could also keep a close friend constantly updated as they can serve as witnesses in the future.

Warn the stalker

If you notice someone following you like a shadow, do not hit the panic button immediately and call in the higher authorities. Instead, if you happen to know the stalker, try to talk to him/her about it and clear misunderstandings. In the case of an unknown stalker, you could definitely give him/her a stern warning. However, do not do so all by yourself. Make sure you have the company and support of a mutual friend or at least someone you know very well.

Avoid further interaction

If the stalker pursues you even after a warning has been served, avoid any further interaction or communication of any sort. There is no point trying to ‘make him/her understand’. In fact, after the warning, if you try to be reasonable and interact with the stalker, he/she might take it in the wrong sense and consider it to be an “I’m okay talking to you” signal from your end.

“Once you have confirmed that a certain individual is stalking you, after an initial warning, avoid any kind of contact or interaction thereafter. Avoid eye contact with the stalker as it will help him sense the fear. Also do not encourage conversations as the stalker might be extremely delusional and may comprehend it in a rather positive way,” advices Dr Shah.

Confide in someone

It is a wise thing to confide in someone about the trouble your stalker has been causing you. You do not want to go insane thinking about it. Confiding in someone will give you the moral support you need and help you figure out your course of action. You may be too worried to act practical, and this is when your friends and family can step in and play a wise role. However, confiding in too many people must be avoided because it will only blow the matter out of proportion.

Stay in the company of people

It is best to stay in the company of people and avoid wandering alone as stalkers are more likely to try to get in touch with you when you are all by yourself. Do not venture out during the night without company. “When you are in the company of people or are in a group, your anxiety is more contained and it reflects in your body language. It helps you build confidence because there is a possibility that the stalker will lay off on account of the fear of being caught,” adds Dr Shah.

Always stay in constant contact with people and keep them updated about your whereabouts. To be on the safe side, keep pepper spray with you. And use it if you must!

Be confident

Do not tremble and go into hiding at the thought of the stalker. Be confident! Do not let the stalker get the upper hand and scare you with his antics.

“You need to appear confident and put a message across to the stalker. You could play calm and pretend to not be aware of the stalker’s antics when in a public place,” says Dr Shah.

Also you don’t have to act like superwoman and save the world all alone… approach higher authorities who will be able to take legal action against the stalker. Speak to the head of the organisation at which you or the stalker works. Seek police protection if things get worse.

Temporary restraining order

If the stalker simply refuses to give up harassing you, it is time to resort to legal action. “Approach the nearest police station with a friend who could act as a witness and file a complaint against the stalker. Make sure you provide proper details and list out the harassment he has been causing. The stalker will then be answerable to the police. If the harassment continues, you will be asked to file a FIR which may allow the police to take the stalker into custody. It also enables you to seek police protection,” advices advocate Flavia Agnes.

The last resort

If none of the above seem to have any impact on the stalker, you could resort to the extreme measure of changing all your contact details – even if temporarily. However troublesome it might seem to you, the fact that the stalker won’t be able to reach you will act as a deterrent. You could change your email id, contact number, residence number and the locks to your residence to prevent the stalker from getting in touch with you again. Once you have taken this step, notify only a few trusted friends and family members about it as you do not want the the stalker to find out your whereabouts.

The key to dealing with a stalker lies in having faith in yourself. Don’t give up or give in!

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