According to the National Center for Disease Control’s 2014 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS), 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men have experienced stalking in their lifetime. The victims range from your Average Joe or Jane to some of the most high-profile individuals in the world.
This is certainly the case for Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was recently forced to reckon with a San Francisco man who repeatedly showed up at his home bearing “gifts” like champagne and flowers, left disturbing voicemails on his phone and tagged Cook and others in odd or sexual images on Twitter. In response, Apple filed and received a three-year restraining order against the stalking perpetrator.
Though this restraining order was likely necessary for Apple and Cook based on the information their security team reviewed, our preventive approach cautions that Cook’s situation should not be a typical roadmap to preventing stalking and the associated potential for violence against an individual or their workplace. In fact, in many situations, filing a restraining order could incite further violence, instead of preventing it.
How (Almost) Unlimited Resources Affects Stalking Response
According to publicly available information from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Apple has corporate security planes, a protective detail and a secure corporate facility with no other tenants. In 2017, the Apple Board implemented a policy that requires that Mr. Cook use private aircraft for all business and personal travel.
That’s why Apple’s approach to a restraining order may be an anomaly to traditional threat management protocols: abundant resources. In many cases, a restraining order could actually escalate stalking as someone exhibiting this type of behavior is already acting irrationally and could consider this legal barrier just one more challenge to overcome in order to reach their target.
And just because the Apple perpetrator is exhibiting “romantic” intentions doesn’t mean they couldn’t harm Cook or other Apple executives. Stalking with the guise of affection or attachment is still a threatening behavior.
But as indicated above, Apple has plenty of resources and a full-time, dedicated team to monitor and mitigate any retaliatory or extending behavior. For most of us and our clients, filing a restraining order might actually put someone in more danger. Each concerning situation should be considered as a specific behavior-based assessment.
Best Practices in the Workplace
Fortunately, you do not need Apple’s resources to mitigate the threat of stalking at your business. There are practical approaches any organization can take to ready employees – particularly those in security, facilities and HR, to manage a potentially dangerous situation.
- Assist: Provide employees with threat assessment professional resources they can use if they are coping with or believe they are coping with an individual exhibiting stalking behavior.
- Mandate: Require employees who already have protective or restraining orders filed against individuals to share this information with the Human Resources and Security departments, to improve awareness of the threat environment surrounding the organization and provide enhanced security and legal expertise, if needed.
- Educate: Train employees to recognize the signs of domestic violence, which is often a precursor to stalking behavior.
- Prepare: Strengthen liaison relationships with local law enforcement agencies in advance so the organization can involve them if a situation escalates and additional protection is needed for an individual or all employees.
Though a restraining order may become necessary, these steps are critical in preventing any violence toward the victim and their coworkers.