By Network for Surviving Stalking www.scaredofsomeone.org
Stalking is a huge and largely hidden problem in the UK. Hidden or secret even though the latest statistics from the Crime Survey from England and Wales (CSEW) suggests that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will experience stalking in their lifetime.
It’s unwanted, repeated, obsessive and controlling behaviours that distress or scare you. You can see that this is a very simple description. Stalking is behaviour that is:
IT IS THAT SIMPLE… so why is this such a secret, why are so many people affected, and for such long time periods?
In 2015 Network for Surviving Stalking did a survey to try to find out why. We found that:
But they did not add all this together and label it as stalking. Therefore they did not have the words to label what was happening in such a way that agencies might understand. We also found that victims of stalking do not know where to turn for advice and support.
If you are the target of someone pestering you and frightening you, it is a criminal offence and is called: Stalking.
Two new offences of Stalking were introduced on 25 November 2012. Police now have additional powers of entry, search and seizure when investigating stalking – so for example they can enter a stalker’s home, search and seize a computer that may have been used in the stalking.
Many people are stalked by ex-partners. This stalking often goes unrecognised because people make allowances for ex-partners who may be upset and wanting to rebuild the relationship. But ex-partners who take it too far, who make threats and repeatedly pester or scare you are NOT trying to rebuild a positive relationship. They are harassing or stalking.**
March 10th 2016 sees the launch of a campaign to highlight the dangers of stalking by ex-partners with the release of a film and resources and the hashtag #TroubleWithAnEx. Keep a look out for more on this and during Stalking Awareness Week 18th to 24th April!
Deciding what to do and where to go for help is not easy but you are likely to get a better outcome if you are prepared. Our website www.scareofsomeone.org takes you through the process of:
If the unwanted attention is making you frightened then the situation is serious. Stalkers, particularly ex-partners, can go on to murder.
Research has shown that action taken really quickly is most effective. Stalking that goes on for more than two weeks often becomes long term behaviour, becoming entrenched in the stalker’s way of life. If you recognise it early and are scared – ACT QUICKLY.
** There is a difference between harassment and stalking although both are criminal offences. The threshold for ‘repeated behaviour’ is two or more incidents regardless of whether the person harassing or stalking is known to the target. If the behaviour engenders fear or distress and there have been two or more incidents (not necessarily the same behaviour – e.g. one breaking and entering and two text messages that cause alarm) then this is stalking. If there have been two text messages and a Facebook message that are insulting but carry no threat and do not leave the target feeling fear of violence or great distress, then this would be harassment. If a stalker uses third persons to act on their behalf in the stalking/harassment campaign and this can be evidenced then it still counts as stalking/harassment. One of the big problems is that police and agencies – even if they get as far as seeing the pattern of behaviour – will identify it as harassment, which carries a much less severe penalty, when really it is stalking.
Additional resource: CallerSmart have developed a useful guide to cyberstalking to help people understand what cyberstalking is and what to do if you are a victim. There is also a Reverse Lookup Phone Book App that you can download for free: https://www.callersmart.com/