Stalking affects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men at some point in their lives. 1 in 25 women aged 16 - 59 are stalked every year. 80 per cent of victims are stalked by someone they know, with the biggest category being ex partners which accounts for 40 per cent of cases reported to the National Stalking Helpline.
What is stalking?
Stalking and harassment is conduct directed at or towards an individual by another that causes a victim to feel that violence may be used against them or another person, or causes the victim to feel afraid, alarmed or distressed.
There will be different motivations for a perpetrator's behaviour that may include revenge, retribution, loneliness, resentment, a desire for reconciliation, response to a perceived insult or humiliation or a desire for control. Some perpetrators behaviour will be driven by a psychiatric disorder.
Some perpetrators may have been in a long-term relationship with their victim whilst others will only know their victim from a distance such as a work colleague or someone in the public eye.
It encompasses a wide range of behaviour that can often have a devastating effect on its victims. It is repeated behaviour that is unwanted by the victim and causes them to have a negative reaction in terms of distress.
There are several different contexts in which harassment can occur:
- As part of domestic abuse
- Within domestic abuse but where the pre-existing intimate relationship was very brief
- Where the suspect is known personally to the victim, but not as a family member, intimate partner or former intimate partner so is therefore outside the definition of domestic abuse (e.g. neighbour, work colleague, acquaintance etc
- Where the suspect is not known personally to the victim (e.g. harassment of a person in the public eye)
- Where the victim is a target of a politically motivated campaign e.g. animal rights extremist.
- Remember that domestic stalkers are the most dangerous group of stalkers. A prior intimate relationship is the most powerful predictor of violence in stalking cases as there could be a shorter duration of stalking along with rapid escalation, which could signal a "HIGH" risk of serious harm.
Research shows that those who are at the highest risk of assault are ex-intimates who've been threatened, in whom the stalking has continued for more than two weeks.
Behaviour by a suspect can include:
- Frequent, unwanted contact e.g. appearing at the home or workplace of the victim, telephone calls, text messages or other contact such as via the internet (i.e. social networking sites
- Driving past the victim's home or work
- Following or watching the victim
- Sending letters or unwanted gifts to the victim
- Damaging the victims property
- Burglary or robbery of the victim's home, workplace, vehicle or other
- Threats of harm to the victim and/or others associated with them (including sexual violence and threats to life)
- Harassment of people associated with the victim (e.g. family members, partner, work colleagues)
- Physical and/or sexual assault of the victim and even murder
Top Safety Tips for stalking and domestic violence victims:
Using a Mobile phone
- Set your mobile so you have to use a PIN to unlock your phone. It should be set to lock after 1 to 2 minutes use. Use random numbers - don't use birthdates etc.
- Don't use apps that tell you where friends are, checks you in etc. If you suspect someone has put a tracking app on your mobile back-up your data and do a factory reset. Be careful when reinstalling data not to install any software or apps you are unsure about.
- Turn off geo-location services in camera apps and your mobile settings.
Using a computer
- Use a safe computer - many victims' computers have had spyware/monitoring software installed. Use a different computer from a friend or library until you can install anti-spyware software on your computer.
- E-mail - get multiple new e-mail addresses. Make them anonymous; don't use your real name or nickname an ex-partner would recognise.
- Delete ALL online accounts - The most important thing you can do is delete ALL existing accounts - you don't know which accounts your stalker has access to
- Passwords - Create completely new passwords. Abusers often get access to information because they know or guess a password. Don't use obvious security questions - most ex-partners can guess them.
Set up several Google alerts with your name, e-mail and phone number so if the abuser posts information about you online you will be alerted.
- Password protect your computer - at work always log off or lock the screen even if you are just stepping away for a few minutes. On a Windows machine you can lock the screen by holding down the [Windows] key and pressing L.
Using social networks
Social networks are not secure and your friends can easily leak information that can help an abuser track you down. If possible, delete your Facebook account and don't use it. If you want continue using Facebook then create a new account with an obscure name, use a fake photo and information. Only add your most trusted friends. Most of all make sure that you and your friends have put on the highest privacy and security settings.
Tel: 0808 802 0300 Protection against Stalking works jointly with relevant agencies to increase awareness of Stalking and Harassment to ensure victims receive all the protection and help they need to rebuild their lives and live free of fear. It aims to provide support to victims, potential victims and others affected by stalking /harassment throughout the UK, to raise awareness of the subject and to provide information about stalking /harassment and harassment to professionals, relevant agencies and the public. Aims to provide practical support and guidance to reduce people's fear of crime, and to develop skills and strategies for keeping themselves safe.
Who to contact for help?
The National Stalking Helpline provides guidance and information to anybody who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking.
Tel: 0808 802 0300
Protection against Stalking works jointly with relevant agencies to increase awareness of Stalking and Harassment to ensure victims receive all the protection and help they need to rebuild their lives and live free of fear.
It aims to provide support to victims, potential victims and others affected by stalking /harassment throughout the UK, to raise awareness of the subject and to provide information about stalking /harassment and harassment to professionals, relevant agencies and the public.
Aims to provide practical support and guidance to reduce people's fear of crime, and to develop skills and strategies for keeping themselves safe.