If you have been stalked or sexually assaulted by someone who is not a family or household member and who has not been in a sexual or dating relationship with you, you may be able to get an order to protect you from that person. On this page you will learn how to file a request for an Order Against Stalking or an Order Against Sexual Assault in the Civil Division of Superior Court.
If you need protection from someone who is a family or household member, or is or was a sexual or dating partner, there are different steps to follow. In that case, see the Relief from Abuse section of our website.
What is stalking?
Stalking is when a person follows, watches, threatens you or another person, or tampers with your property at least two times and makes you afraid. Stalking includes phone calls, mail, email, comments on social media, faxes and written notes.
Stalking is a crime in Vermont. You can report stalking to the police, and the stalker may be prosecuted.
What is sexual assault?
Vermont has several definitions of sexual assault that may entitle you to a protective order:
- sex without consent, including with threats or by administering drugs (“sexual assault”)
- sex without consent combined with significant violence (“aggravated sexual assault”)
- using a child in sexual performance
- a parent or guardian consenting to sexual performance by a child
- indecent acts with the intent of arousing or gratifying sexual desires (“lewd and lascivious conduct”)
If any of these things happened to a child, a parent or guardian can ask the court to protect the child from sexual assault.
Sexual assault is a crime in Vermont. You can report it to the police, and the person who sexually assaulted you may be prosecuted.
What can I do if I am stalked or sexually assaulted?
1. Ask the court for protection.
You can ask for a court order even if you have not reported the stalking or sexual assault to the police. You can ask for a court order even if the police are not investigating your report. For details on how to get a court order, see How Can I Get a Court Order, below.
2. Do some safety planning.
Talk to a domestic violence organization for help with safety planning. Find your local domestic violence organization on this website. Or call:
- Vermont Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-228-7395
- Vermont Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-800-489-7273
There are certain things you can do to make yourself safer. The following websites have information and tips that may help you:
3. Document what happens and keep evidence.
- Keep a notebook with the date and time of any incidents or threats that occurs. Write down what the person did and said, as well as who saw it happen.
- Report all incidents/threats to the police immediately. Note which officer is in charge of your case and write down the crime reference number if there is one. Ask for a copy of the police report.
- Ask any witnesses who saw the illegal behavior to write down what they saw and heard. Keep the witnesses’ names and phone numbers in your notebook.
- Keep all texts, emails, voicemails, letters, social media postings, etc. from the person who stalked or sexually assaulted you. If you can, print them and keep them in a safe place.
4. Protect your credit if you have been stalked online.
A stalker might try to get your credit card information. If you think the stalker has access or wants access to your credit information, you can call the three main credit bureaus and have them try to prevent your stalker from getting info, from committing fraud, and from stealing your identity. (See our page about Abuse, Stalking & Financial Issues.)
The three main credit bureaus are:
- Experian: 1-888-690-8086
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
How can I get a court order?
An Order Against Stalking or an Order Against Sexual Assault is a court order to protect a victim when the perpetrator is not a family or household member and not someone the victim dated or had a sexual relationship with. You cannot get an Order Against Stalking or an Order Against Sexual Assault if you qualify for a Relief from Abuse Order.
An Order Against Stalking or an Order Against Sexual Assault will require the perpetrator (the person who did the acts) to do or not do certain things such as stay away from you and your children. The court can order anything it thinks is necessary to ensure safety.
A person who does not follow the order can be charged with a crime.