Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention or any behaviour that causes you to feel scared, anxious, or distressed.
Often stalking can also include harassment which can involve repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications.
Both offences come under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which was amended in 2012 to include stalking under the Personal Freedoms Act.
Stalking and harassment may be carried out by someone unknown to the you or by a partner or ex-partner. The behaviour may involve any or all the following:
- following you
- sending you lots of messages or calling you repeatedly
- turning up wherever you are and hanging around
- damaging or interfering with your property
- watching or spying on a you
- giving you unwanted gifts
- making threats or intimidating you
Individually, each incident may seem like a small act but when added up they may amount to behaviours that cause you distress, alarm or to feel afraid. If you are experiencing a pattern of unwanted behaviours or acts, however small they may seem, this should be taken very seriously as stalking can have a serious impact on your life and you may be at risk of serious harm.
Over 700,000 women experience stalking each year according to the Crime Survey of England and Wales.
Many people who experience stalking find that keeping a diary or a log in a safe place can help to make sense of what is happening. It can also be useful if you report to the Police. However small something may seem, trust your instincts, and seek support to help keep you safe.
Specialist charities such as Paladin and National Stalking Helpline, run by Suzy Lamplugh Trust can help. IDAS is also able to offer advice and support if you are experiencing stalking from a current or ex-partner.
Watch these videos featuring Rachel Williams who has been a victim of domestic abuse and stalking.