How to Respond to a Personal Threat

Receiving a personal threat is never a pleasant experience, regardless of whether the threat was provoked or not. Responding improperly to a threat may increase the likelihood that the individual or group that is making the threat actually carries the threat out. However, regardless of whether the threat comes in the form of a letter, phone call, email or in person, an informed reaction to the situation may help you avoid danger and even possibly diffuse the situation.

Stay calm. Responding with arguments, an elevated voice or reciprocal threats will only escalate the situation and increase the possibility that you are actually harmed. Be sure to also avoid personal attacks of any kind.

Call for emergency help when necessary. It is better to err on the side of caution and contact your local law enforcement authorities when you feel that the threat is real and imminent. Take the threats seriously and quickly evaluate them to determine whether police intervention is necessary.

Be aware of your surroundings. Depending on where the threat is made and what form it comes in, you may need to seek shelter or move to a new location. For instance, a threat made face-to-face may require you to retreat to a neighbor or nearby business to avoid harm.

Collect as much information as you can about the threat. This especially applies to letter- and phone-based threats. Mark down the date, time, location and what is said. This information may needed if the police become involved. Write this information down in a safe place that you will be able to easily access.