It is not everyday that you turn down an offer of a prospective suitor and you live to regret it, nor is it that when a stranger is let into our lives, we end up regretting why we opened our hearts to them.
But such are the tales of some people for whom this suitor or that stranger turned into a stalker.
Listening to radio presenter Lucky Mbabazi share how a stranger turned stalker followed her to the point of reaching her former work place’s lobby and later parking lot in the name of wanting her to be his girlfriend is chilling.
Try as she may, in the politest manner possible, Lucky told the stranger that the two could not be an item because she was already dating someone else. But he went on to push his agenda and tell her he could even get her a car. Thinking of the best way to deal with a stalker, is there anything Lucky missed?
Stephen Langa, a counsellor at Family Life Network, says the best way to fend off a stalker is by using the sandwich approach.
“While some may say speaking your mind is the way to go, this approach has proven to bear better results compared to rejection,” he intimates. Langa says, first tell the person something good or positive, such as, “you are a very good person.”
“Then give them the negative, which is probably why you cannot be in a relationship with them, such as, “but I am not ready to get into a relationship”. Then end with a positive, such as, “how about we remain friends?”
He says sandwiching the negative with the positive is much easier for them to handle.
“It is also crucial to remember that the rejection or negative statement should never be about the other person. As such, statements such as, “you are ugly” or “you are not my type” should never feature in the conversation,” he advises.
Anchor your statements
If you are a young person, Langa proposes that your negative statement be anchored on say, your father, or any authority in your life. “In that case, you could say, “my dad will not allow”. That way, the pressure is not on you but the authority, in this case, your father and the other person will believe that if it were not for your father, the relationship could most probably have happened.” For one that has fathered several girls, this has been one piece of advice he has offered his daughters. “With such a response, the person will not feel any need to press on,” Langa says.
Avoid outright rejection
He points out that the issue with outright rejection is that it makes the other party feel the need to try as much as possible to prove that they are good enough hence the persistence.
While, in most cases, a stalker is someone known to the victim, there are times when this person is a total stranger, as was Lucky’s case. Langa proposes that you assess if you are interested in the idea they are bringing or not. “It is also better to get to know them before you can make a decision,” he says.
At times, you feel like you need to do more than just tell this person that nothing can go on between the two of you. Say in Lucky’s case where the man was trying to assault her. It could also be that he is threatening you or your family members, making you live in constant fear and the like.
Andrew Mwayi, a lawyer, says unlike the United Kingdom which has a specific anti-stalking legislation, the Stalking Act 2019, Uganda has not progressed to that level.
“A victim of stalking can, however, seek the protection of the penal code Act by filing a criminal trespass case. The offense involves entering property or land in possession of another, with the intent to commit an offense, to intimidate, insult or annoy any other person. This law would, however, face limitations if the stalking happened in any place other than on one’s property,” he expounds on the matter.
Mwayi adds that generally speaking, courts can give a remedy to any person who feels that their legally recognised rights have been infringed.
“Under the law of tort, one could plead that the acts of the stalker are equivalent to harassment and seek the court to restrain the perpetrator from continuing with the offensive acts. The person could plead, what we legally call action without cause that causes mental suffering or what we would call injury without impact,” he explains.
While Andrew Mwayi, a lawyer, encourages people facing harassment from stalkers not to suffer silently, he says that it is crucial to always remember that no case can succeed in court without evidence.
“The victim can, through the police or other means, get sufficient evidence because the law will always require the person that claims the existence of any fact to prove it,” he emphasises.