National Stalking Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 24th of April to Friday 28th of April, aims to highlight the issues around stalking and expose the misery caused to victims of this serious crime. Whilst stalking is often perceived as something that just happens to celebrities, it can happen to anyone. Recent research has found that stalking affects 1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men at some point in their lives, and in 80% of cases the perpetrator is somebody they know.
Stalking is defined as unwanted and persistent attention that makes you feel harassed and pestered. It can include a wide range of behaviours, including regularly sending gifts and flowers, malicious communication, damaging property and physical or sexual assault. However, any behaviour that is clearly unwanted, persistent and is causing distress, anxiety or fear counts as stalking and you don’t have to live with it. Anyone can become a victim of stalking; a report by the Network for Surviving Stalking, which surveyed 2,292 victims of stalking, found that victims’ ages ranged from 10 to 73, were male and female and were spread across the entire socio-economic spectrum. Some stalking includes violence, but even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that the victim can’t be seriously affected as stalking can cause severe psychological distress, with victims suffering from side effects including depression, anxiety, paranoia, agoraphobia, disturbed sleep and post-traumatic stress disorder.
National Stalking Awareness Week, which is being co-ordinated by the National Stalking Consortium and partners such as the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, aims to raise awareness of stalking and the debilitating effects it can have on people’s lives. The focus of this year’s awareness week is to help police and support workers recognise the signs of stalking at an early stage, and examine at the motives of the stalker, rather than just specific incidents and behaviour. National Stalking Awareness Week aims to highlight the devastating impact of stalking so that police and others are able to spot signs of stalking and take victims seriously when they come forward. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has a list of events that are taking place throughout the week, and you can show your support on Twitter using the #StalkingMatters hashtag.
If you are a victim of stalking and need help, visit the Scared of Someone? website for more information, call the National Stalking Helpline for free on 0808 802 0300, or contact your local police force and ask to speak of their Single Point of Contact for Stalking.