Special information if you have been victimised, harassed, or stalked

Special information if you have been victimised, harassed, or stalked

What can you do to stop the stalking or harassment?

Persistent, unsolicited contact can be very unpleasant. It is obviously particularly unpleasant if the contact is threatening or otherwise punishable under the law. But the frequency or content of non-criminal contact can also make that contact unpleasant or disruptive.

This applies irrespective of whether the contact is in person, oral, or written. And it applies regardless of whether the contact is direct, such as telephone calls, emails, or letters, or whether the contact is indirect, such as when a person follows you without approaching you. There are a number of things you can do yourself if a person is stalking or harassing you in a frequent and unwanted way.

Avoid dialogue 

It is important not to engage in a dialogue with the person stalking or harassing you, because it may give the impression that you are accepting the person's contact. It may also affect the police's possibility of issuing an exclusion order to stop him or her from approaching or contacting you.
So, do not respond to any communication from the person stalking or harassing you. In this way, you also avoid escalating a potential conflict.

If you do decide to respond to the person's attempts at contact, restrict yourself to telling the person that you do not want to be contacted anymore.

New telephone number, new email, and new routines
If you receive harassing telephone calls, emails, text messages, etc., you should change your contact data. For example, you could change your email address or get a new, unlisted telephone number.

You can also change your routines, for example, take another route to work or buy your groceries somewhere else. 

Keep a record of any and all attempts at contact

If you find that a person is stalking or harassing you, it may be a good idea to write down your experiences. Keep a log of where and when you experienced unwanted communication and what it concerned.

It is a good idea to get the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the person’s efforts to contact or stalk you. And you should save any letters, presents, emails, voicemail messages, text messages, or other attempts at contact.

If you go to the police, they will include information about communication or stalking in their assessment of the matter. 

It is important to get help and support from your surroundings. Talk to your own network – your family, friends, or work colleagues – about your experiences.

How can the police help you?

If you contact the police for help in stopping the stalking or harassment, you will be asked to tell the police about the contact and communication you have experienced. The police will also ask you to give them your notes and any communication you have saved. The information will be included when the police assess the matter.

When the police have considered the case, they will usually contact the person who is stalking or harassing you and tell him or her what you told the police. 

When the person concerned has had a chance to give his or her version of what has happened, the police will decide how to proceed.

Guidance, victim-offender mediation, and warning

In some situations, such as when the conditions for issuing an exclusion order are not (yet) satisfied, the police will provide you and the person stalking or harassing you with guidance regarding the rules in this area and try to solve any conflicts.

The police may also find that the matter is suitable for victim-offender mediation. This is a meeting between you and the person stalking or harassing you. Participation in the meeting is voluntary for both of you. A mediator will be present during the meeting, and you will be able to speak to the person who is stalking or harassing you in a secure environment.

In other situations, the police will find that a warning might be sufficient to stop the stalking or harassment. A warning means that the police warn the person stalking or harassing you that the police may issue an exclusion order if the stalking or harassment continues.

If the warning does not stop the person from stalking or harassing you, or if he or she begins harassing you again at a later time, you must contact the police so that they can review the matter.

Exclusion orders, including provisional exclusion orders

One of the steps the police can take to stop the stalking or harassment is to issue an exclusion order (or a provisional exclusion order).

What is an exclusion order (provisional exclusion order)?An exclusion order (or provisional exclusion order) means that the person stalking or harassing you is not allowed to contact or follow you. This means that he or she can neither approach you in person, orally, nor in writing. This also includes emails, text messages, social media messages, etc.

It does not matter whether the communication is harmless or unfriendly. This means that the person will not be allowed to send you flowers or presents or record friendly voicemail messages. The person must not contact you indirectly through social media either – for example by saying things about you through social media or in internet debate fora.

When an exclusion order has been issued, you should not contact the person who is subject to the exclusion order, nor should you respond to communication from him or her. If you voluntarily engage in contact with the person, this may cause the exclusion order to lapse.

In special circumstances, contact will not lead to a lapse of the exclusion order. This could be, for example, if a joint child is suddenly very ill, and one parent has to contact the other.

When can the police issue a provisional exclusion order?
A decision to issue a provisional exclusion order can be made quickly and is a temporary protection of you until a potential decision is made to issue an exclusion order or a restraining order.

The police may issue a provisional exclusion order if there is reason to suspect someone of having invaded your privacy by stalking you or bothering you with in-person, oral, or written communication.

The police may also issue a provisional exclusion order against a person if there is reason to suspect that he or she has committed a criminal offence which invades your privacy. This could be if he or she has gained access to your home, has made criminal threats against you, or has vandalised your belongings.

In both situations, it is a condition that there is reason to think that the person will continue to invade your privacy. This could be if he or she has been invading your privacy for some time, or if the police have given him or her a warning without this causing the stalking or harassment to stop.

The police cannot issue a provisional exclusion order if the person stalking or harassing you has a reasonable interest in contacting you. This could be in situations where you have underage children together, if you have close family relations, or if you are neighbours. 

When a provisional exclusion order has been issued, the police will investigate the case thoroughly and decide whether there are grounds for issuing a final exclusion order or a restraining order. This must be done within 60 days, as far as possible.

How long can a provisional exclusion order last?
A provisional exclusion order is valid until further notice and only lapses when it is decided to issue an exclusion order or to revoke the provisional exclusion order.

When can the police issue an exclusion order?

The police may issue an exclusion order if there is cause to suspect that a person has invaded your privacy by stalking or bothering you with face-to-face, oral, or written communication.

The police may also issue an exclusion order against a person if there is cause to suspect that he or she has committed a criminal offence that invades your privacy. An example could be if he or she has gained access to your home, made criminal threats against you, or vandalised your belongings.

In both situations, there must be cause to think that the person will continue to invade your privacy. An example could be if he or she has been invading your privacy for some time, or if, in spite of a police warning, the stalking or harassment continues.

The police may also issue an exclusion order against a person suspected of having committed or attempting to commit a gross crime against your person. This includes offences such as attempted manslaughter, robbery, deprivation of liberty, gross violence, arson, or rape. The police can only issue such an exclusion order if they find the offence so serious that you and your closest relatives should not be subjected to communication from the suspect.

An exclusion order cannot be issued if you are living with the person stalking or harassing you. You do not have to be divorced or legally separated, but cohabitation must have ended. The exclusion order will lapse if you get back together. This also applies in situations when you break up shortly after having started living together again.

If the person stalking or harassing you has parent visitation rights in relation to your joint children, the exclusion order will be drawn up in such a way that he or she will still be able to exercise these rights. If you have any questions regarding parent visitation rights, you can contact the state administration.

An exclusion order may be expanded to include other members of your household if this is necessary to stop the stalking or harassment. If, for example, you are contacted through your child or spouse, the exclusion order may be expanded so that the person stalking or harassing you cannot contact them either. 

You can read about the possibility of filing a complaint against an exclusion order below.

How long can an exclusion order last?
An exclusion order can be granted for a period of up to five years. When the exclusion order expires, a new one may be issued if the conditions are still satisfied.

The police may also issue a restraining order against the person stalking or harassing you.

Restraining orders

What is a restraining order?
A restraining order means that the person stalking or harassing you will be banned from staying in or going to a specific area. This could be a ban against being in the vicinity of your home, your place of work or education, and other places you often go to, such as a sports facility or a specific supermarket.

When can the police issue a restraining order?

The police may issue a restraining order against a person suspected of having committed a gross crime against your person. The police may also issue a restraining order against a person who has repeatedly invaded your privacy by stalking you, pestering you with unwanted contact, or vandalising your belongings. In addition, the police may issue a restraining order against a person who has violated an exclusion order.

The police may issue a restraining order if they find that the conditions for issuing an exclusion order are satisfied but that an exclusion order is insufficient to protect you against the person stalking or harassing you.

In some situations, a restraining order cannot be issued. This applies, for example, if the person stalking or harassing you is your neighbour and therefore cannot refrain from being in the vicinity of your home. Like an exclusion order, a restraining order may be expanded to include other members of your household necessary to stop the stalking or harassment. A restraining order may be combined with an exclusion order and/or a removal order.
How long can a restraining order last?

Hvor længe kan et opholdsforbud vare?
A restraining order can be given for a period of up to one year. When the order expires, a new restraining order may be issued if the conditions are still satisfied.

Removal order

Under special circumstances, the police may remove a person who is living with you.

What is a removal order?
A removal order means that the person is not allowed to stay in your joint home. The police may detain the person for up to 24 hours while the removal order case is being considered. This means he or she will be removed from your joint home even though the police have not yet decided whether to issue a removal order.

When can the police remove someone? 
If you are living with a person over the age of 18 who is suspected of having subjected you or another member of the household to a sexual offence, unlawful coercion, violence, threats of violence, or other crimes against the person, the police may remove the suspect from your joint home.

The police may only remove the suspect if there are specific reasons to believe that he or she will commit a similar offence if he or she remains in the home. A removal order may be combined with an exclusion order and/or a restraining order. 

How long can a removal order last?
A removal order can be given for a period of up to four weeks. When the order expires, the removal may be extended if the conditions are still satisfied.

If the stalking or harassment continues

If the person who has been issued with an exclusion order, a restraining order, or a removal order contacts you, you must write down what has happened. You must also keep any letters, emails, text messages, or other communication you might have received. You must refrain from responding to any communication and from contacting the person in any other way. Instead, you should pass the communication you received on to the police.

If the prosecution service finds that the person in question can be proved to have violated the exclusion, restraining, or removal order, he or she will be indicted. This means the case will go to court. If you have to appear in court to give evidence as a witness, you will receive a letter about where and when the hearing will take place.

In some situations, a free legal advocate will be provided to you if you have to give evidence in court. The police will tell you about your options for obtaining a legal advocate. Read more about legal advocates.

Violations of an exclusion, restraining, or removal order may be punishable by a fixed penalty or imprisonment.

Complaints against exclusion, restraining, or removal orders

The police will decide if the conditions for issuing an exclusion order or a restraining order are satisfied. The police will also decide if the conditions for removing someone from your joint home are satisfied.

Complaints
The person who has been issued with an exclusion, restraining, or removal order is entitled to file a complaint against the police's decision. The state prosecutor's office will deal with the complaint.

You are also entitled to file a complaint to the state prosecutor if the police refuse to issue an exclusion, restraining, or removal order.

Bringing the matter before the court
A person who has been issued with a restraining order or a removal order is also entitled to demand that the decision be brought before the court. The court will usually hear a complaints case without your having to testify in court. If, exceptionally, you are required to testify in court as a witness, you are entitled to obtain a legal advocate.

Compensation

You will be able to get compensation from the state for injuries suffered as a consequence of someone violating an exclusion, restraining, or removal order. The police will be able to tell you how to apply for compensation. If you have a legal advocate, he or she can help you calculate the claim for compensation. You can read more at the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board's website.