We're Talking Stalking
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Stalking is a form of harassment and involves a fixation and repeated or unwanted behaviour that makes a person feel distressed or scared. Behaviour is varied but can include being followed, repeated messages on social media, being sent unwanted gifts or threats of violence. Threats may not be made but victims may feel scared by the unwanted attention of the perpetrator. Even if no threats are made it is still stalking and is a crime.
“You carry it all the time. You carry it and it’s with you day in day out. Day in day out. And you breathe it, and … it’s in the back of your mind all the time, ‘What is he going to do? What are we going to find … who’s going to come knocking at our door?” – Stalking Victim
- Anyone can be a victim of stalking, however here in the West Midlands 96 percent of stalking victims are women.
- On average, victims will suffer 70 to 100 incidents before reporting these to police.
- 15 percent of adults aged 16 to 59 have been victims of some stalking and/or harassment behaviours.
On its own each incident may not seem significant enough to report, and you may feel like you won’t be taken seriously - but this isn’t the case. If the attention you are receiving is unwelcome and is making you feel scared or intimidated then you should report this and we will listen to you.
“Fortunately after I called the police things did get better. Stalking and harassment is distressing and makes you feel isolated and fearful. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed as I did, it is not a reflection on you.” - Stalking Victim
If you don’t want to report your situation to the police, then there are a number of stalking charities that you can get in touch with and they all have great websites where you can seek guidance. We’ve listed these for you below.
TIP – keep a diary of what is happening to you. Every time you receive unwanted communication, be it a text message, social media contact, email, letter, present – anything, then note this down along with the date and time.
Also make a note of any details you have about the person who is stalking/harassing you. This could include information about where they live or work, their vehicle's number plate, online names or personas, or nicknames, and numbers that are used to contact you. Keep any gifts or items you are sent or any other evidence of the stalker’s behaviour.
Never arrange to meet your stalker or try to resolve things on your own. If you need help contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
“Keep a log – I did this for many years…as you do not realise how wrong the behaviour is or where the patterns are until you start writing it down. It is also a really good way of demonstrating to others the intensity and details of the incidents as it is easy to mix them up and forget how they made you feel. “ – Stalking Victim
Stalking and technology
Technology and social networking sites can help facilitate stalking and harassment, enabling stalkers to impersonate others online or to send or post hostile messages to their victim. Here’s some advice we’d encourage people to follow if they are worried about stalking:
- Secure your online accounts by changing user names and passwords regularly. Never share your passwords with anyone.
- Never accept a friend request from someone you don’t know.
- Block the person who is harassing you and if possible, anyone connected to them such as their family and friends.
- Think about what you post publicly – do you need to share information about your current location, holiday plans or new job?
- Change your account privacy settings to 'friends only' or 'only me' to restrict who can see your profile, postings and photographs.
- Facebook also allows you to remove yourself from public searches, to turn off applications and also prevent people from ‘tagging’ you in posts and photographs.
- Many people frequently access social networks and email via a mobile – ensure you activate a PIN or password on your phone to prevent other people from using it.
- Turn off GPS/geo location settings on your mobile and don’t use applications to 'check in' to places or to share your current location when posting material or sending messages.
- Greet any calls to your phone with a simple "hello" rather than with your name or number and don’t answer questions about yourself if you don't know who's calling.
- Try to vary your daily routine and routes to and from home to prevent the stalker from becoming familiar with your habits.
- Have your keys ready for when you reach the front door.
“Within a few hours I would have 30 missed calls on my phone and as many texts. It was unnerving, caused me lots of stress resulting in me losing nearly a stone of weight over a short period of time.” – Stalking Victim
Hollie Gazzard Trust
The trust was set up by the family of 20-year-old hairdresser Hollie Gazzard, who was murdered in at work, by her ex-partner who had been stalking her.
Hollie Guard App
Turn your smartphone into an advanced personal safety device at the touch of a button with the Hollie Guard app.
In danger? A simple shake or tap activates Hollie Guard, automatically sending your location and audio/video evidence to your designated contacts. Three alert types – ‘Personal’, ‘Stealth’, and ‘Deterrent’ - allow you to choose an alert setting appropriate to your specific needs.
Meeting someone? The Meeting Timer gives you extra protection when you are going to a dangerous meeting or are meeting someone new. Simply enter descriptive information and the duration of the meeting. When the meeting time has expired an alert will automatically be raised.
Travelling? The Journey feature allows you to notify your friends, family, and co-workers of your movements while traveling. Enter your start and end point, and an SMS & email will be sent to your emergency contacts when you’ve started and safely completed your journey.
If you don’t want to call the police, then there are a number of charities you can call for advice, or even just take a look at their website for some guidance.
“I fooled myself that it would get better; he would get bored and find something else to occupy his time. I was wrong.” – Stalking Victim