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Access Control

BAD BREAKUP? Change the Locks!

One of the most or least surprising things about stalking matters, depending on your perspective, is that a stalking that results from a former intimate relationship is almost invariably more dangerous and has a hire potential for violence than a non-intimate or "stranger" stalking. Psychologists will provide a variety of reasons for this -- some obvious -- some not so obvious, but those reasons are not relevant for the advice we will give here.

Having been in the Executive Protection & Threat Management business for a number of years, we are still struck by the number of stories from clients and otherwise about how a former intimate relationship -- turned into a bad breakup, then morphed into the a full-fledged stalking.  Morphed is a key-word here.  Because we have also learned that a bad breakup that shows signs of turning into a full-fledged stalking can still be prevented from becoming such, if properly handled.  This involves taking certain steps immediately when the breakup occurs.

Relationships that end rarely do so by mutual agreement, so this advice is addressed to the party who has done the breaking up.  In a relationship that turns into a full-fledged stalking, the stalking behavior was probably apparent during the relationship usually manifesting itself in one of the partners as intense jealousy and overbearing attempts at curtailing or controlling perceived unsuitable behavior.  In fact, at its core stalking is a means of control -- control over ones life through control over the object of ones fantasy -- in this case the ex.  Preventing this control by limiting physical and emotional access creates barriers to stalking and minimizes the possibility of escalation.





Confused?  Dont be!  Lets turn theory and psycho-babble into action.  Here are the first steps to take after a bad breakup:




Change the locks!  Recently, an acquaintance reported to us that her ex-boyfriend had secretly made a key to her home, then entered it and stole some money and birth control pills (but left other valuables intact).  The relationship was a bad one from the start.  The signs were there along the way, but control of the house keys had never been relinquished during the relatively short time in which she and her former boyfriend were together.  Upon confronting him, she learned from her ex that he had made the key.


Tell your ex no.  Do it once politely, but firmly, or as few times as possible -- then stop.  Do not give him/her the satisfaction of a response again, or respond to further attempts at control.  The more you respond, the more you teach your ex that his/her actions will elicit a response.  Our acquaintance confronted her ex, in this case playing right into his hands. In this case, the police should have been informed.  Beyond that, the break-in should have been ignored, with no contact between our acquaintance and her ex.


Get caller ID or let your answering machine pick-up.  If you cannot get caller ID, get a new number for your friends and family.  Keep the old number for your ex.  Let a friend monitor his/her calls if his/her tone and manner is difficult for you to deal with.  Monitor his/her emotional progress -- for better or worse, but do not cut off this avenue of contact.  If you do, your ex will be forced into a more intrusive method of contact because eliminating all potential contact in the early stages of a breakup normally will not work to thwart a stalking before it starts.  Instead, by taking this step, you are controlling when and how your ex can contact you.


Have your calls screened at work by the receptionist or your co-workers.  Do not allow the receptionist to accept the delivery of packages or gifts unless you know who the sender.



Consider trading your vehicle with a friend for a time if it will prevent your ex from knowing when you are home or where you are.  The frustration of not being able to determine your comings and goings will help to thwart escalation, as it is a barrier to access.  (Remember, we are talking about persons who are not yet full fledged stalkers, but through external circumstances may become one.)



Get a locking gas cap.


Carry a cellphone with you at all times, even when you are in your home.


Obtain a credit report from Experian, Trans-Union, or Equifax.  Monitor your credit periodically.  Look for new credit cards in your name for which you did not apply.  Consider getting new cards from your existing creditors/banks.


Document everything.



This article was authored by The World Protection Group, Inc., a Los Angeles-based global provider of executive protection & treat management, uniformed protective service, security consulting and asset protection.  To learn more about WPG, please contact Craig Chamberlain, V.P. of Sales & Marketing at +1-(310)550-4319 or by email at


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