What is stalking?
Stalkers will use multiple and differing methods to harass their victims. Behaviour can include regularly sending flowers or gifts, making unwanted or malicious communication (calls, emails, letters), damaging property and physical or sexual assault. This type of behaviour, especially when persistent, can be very menacing and cause a lot of fear and anxiety for the victim.
National Stalking Helpline
The helpline can provide guidance on:-
- The law in relation to stalking and harassment
- Reporting stalking or harassment
- Effective gathering of evidence
- Ensuring your personal safety and that of your friends and family
- Practical steps to reduce the risk
Contact the National Stalking Helpline
- By phone: 0808 802 0300. The phone line is available 9.30am-4pm weekdays except Wednesdays, which are 1pm to 4pm.
Stalking and the law
In November 2012 the Protection From Harassment Act was amended to make stalking a specific offence in England and Wales. Further information can be obtained on the National Stalking Helpline website.
Put a STOP to stalking
- Say no - tell the person once that you do not want any further contact then do not respond to them any more.
- Take notes - keep a diary and save evidence like text messages, emails and screenshots of any online activity.
- Options - call the National Stalking Helpline to discuss your options.
- Police - stalking behaviour is illegal and the police can take action.
One of the best predictors of future behaviour is past behaviour and stalkers are no exception. Generally speaking if a stalker has been violent before, whether or not it was associated with stalking, they are more likely to be violent again. Research shows that victims will suffer more than 100 incidents before reporting to the police. Stalkers may also seem to stop stalking their victim only to suddenly resume the harassment at a later date.
Stalking rarely takes place at a distance. Research shows that nearly all stalking cases will ultimately involve face-to-face contact between victim and stalker. Some stalkers may appear or approach their victims regularly while others, particularly those with mental health issues, will appear in diverse places at unpredictable times. Research also shows that those who visit places regularly frequented by the victim are those most likely to attack their victim.
Following or loitering near their victim: some stalkers attempt to loiter secretly whilst others make no attempt at concealment. If they do follow or loiter near you, keep a diary of sightings and behaviours.
Involving others: stalkers will sometimes involve third parties for a number of reasons:
- To upset the victim.
- To gather information on the victim
- To remove perceived obstacles
- To punish those perceived as helping or shielding the victim
Do not underestimate the ability of a stalker to pose as another person and/or draw information out of friends, family or fellow students. Many will devote hours each day to their stalking campaign and are capable of stalking victims for many years. Many use social networking sites to impersonate someone else online, to send or post hostile material, misinformation and false messages and to trick other users into harassing or threatening a victim.