< Kölner-Hilfe-bei-Gewalt

The Problem
Is someone in your life stalking you? Are you being followed around against your will? Do you constantly receive undesired telephone calls, SMS or E-mails? Is someone tracking you down? You may have become a stalking victim! To stalk someone means to track, follow around and harass somebody and to exercise power over them.
The offenders are called stalkers and may be male or female. Some offenders act like they do because they do not accept the end of a relationship. Others want to establish a relationship but don't know how to conduct themselves appropriately. There are plenty of reasons for this unpleasant behaviour. Typically, however, it is a power game in which the stalker sets the rules and attempts to force the victim to abide by them.
Consequences: Please do not conform to the stalker's wishes! Every reaction on your part may reinforce the offender in his or her perception that he or she can exercise power over you, and the criminal harassment will intensify.

Your Legal Options

Reports to the Police
In Germany, stalking has been prosecuted under Section 238 of the Criminal Code since 1 April 2007. The precondition is that the male or female stalker acts persistently and affects the lifestyle of the victim gravely. Criminal harassment may include offences such as following the victim around, phoning, ordering goods in the name of the victim, threatening the victim or other comparable offences.
Further related offences may be bodily injury (Section 223 pp. Criminal Code), insult (Section 185 Criminal Code), and coercion (Section 240 Criminal Code). In order to stop the offender, we recommend filing a report with the police in each case.

Temporary Injunction
At the legal claims office (Rechtsantragsstelle) of the local court you can file a temporary injunction that prohibits the stalker from phoning you, approaching you or going to certain places. The injunction can be filed under civil law or the Violence Protection Act. If a court issues its order under the Violence Protection Act, an infringement against the order is a criminal offence. You may consider an injunction under the Violence Protection Act, if the offender committed bodily injury or deprived you of your personal freedom.
You can file the injunction yourself, however, due to the complicated legal terrain, it is recommended to seek assistance from a lawyer.

Preservation of Evidence by Means of Documentation
In order to substantiate your statements at court, you should always keep an exact record about what happened when. Write down all incidents on paper, with date, time and, if possible, a witness. Take photos with a camera or even with your mobile phone, if nothing else is at hand. With this documentation, you can substantiate your matter if you think about taking legal action later.

In a registered letter with return receipt to the stalker, if you know who they are, state one single time that you do not wish to have any contact. Thus, you can prove later, if you decide to take legal action, that the offender must have known that you did not wish to have any contact. Do not state this verbally, by e-mail or SMS and do not discuss this matter any further.

How can I defend myself?

Strengthen your Awareness!
Make yourself aware that you are being subjected to criminal harassment! Do not show consideration for the stalker, even if they make promises for the future. Do not be ashamed of your situation; it is the stalker that should be ashamed of himself or herself!
Once you have taken your defence measures, please keep your mind free for other things. Do not let the stalker take possession of your personality.

Avoid Communication with the Stalker!
Do not talk to the stalker - not even on the phone - and do not reply to any SMS or e-mails! Make yourself as unavailable as possible: Get a new telephone number, delete your old e-mail address and request a new post office box.

Organise a Support Network!
Tell your neighbourhood, your employer, colleagues and friends about your situation so they can support you and do not give out any information about you to the stalker.

Organise Company!
Organise company for yourself as frequently as possible. You are better protected and have a witness.

Safeguard Your Flat and Your Vehicle!
Turn off the door bell at night and whenever you want to have peace and quiet. If the stalker appears on your doorstep, prevent him or her from entering the house and your flat. Contact the police for advice on technical safety measures. Ensure that your vehicle cannot be damaged, or park it someplace where it is difficult to find.

Refuse to accept gifts!
Do not accept any presents from the stalker. His or her bunches of flowers have no place in your flat. With these "gifts" the stalker is only trying to make you remember him or her and influence your life.

Going out
Do not let him or her make you nervous when you are driving in your car and being followed. Just drive to the next police station or call the police with your mobile phone if the situation gets dangerous.
If you are being followed in a bus or a tram, stay near the driver and other travellers.