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Shake Stalkers

By Mary Spicuzza

From The Taming of the Shrew to There's Something About Mary, fiction favors persistent suitors who don't give up until they've won over the object of their affections. But people in the real world who refuse to take "No" for an answer--not to mention phrases like "I wouldn't date you even if frozen pigs could fly through hell"--may be engaging in courting rituals that cry out for court action.

Knowing that most stalking victims hide rather than reach out for assistance, the National Center for Victims of Crime (www.nvc.org) devotes a huge section of its website to warding off Fatal Attraction-types. The center also offers help to victims through its hotline, 800.FYI.CALL.

Restraining orders, which can be filed at the clerk's office of family court, 170 Park Center Plaza, threaten stalkers with fines and incarceration. Although they can be a powerful tool, court orders have limited jurisdiction and require action only if the stalker finds the stalkee. Sometimes, that's too late.

Anyone in imminent danger can probably figure out good courses of action--call 911, get to a police station, seek a safe haven with friends, relatives or a domestic-violence shelter. But often those who don't face an immediate threat, such as victims of online harassment--or cyberstalking--need the most guidance. Groups like Women Halting Online Abuse (www.haltabuse.org), CyberAngels (www.cyberangels.org) and SafetyEd International (www.safetyed.org) help web-savvy types navigate trouble.

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From the March 16-22, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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