Content adapted from suzylamplugh.org.
Stalking Awareness Week 2018
National Stalking Awareness Week- Monday 16th April – Friday 20th April 2018
National Stalking Awareness week is about raising awareness of stalking and the stories behind the statistics. This year Suzy Lamplugh Trust are focusing on increasing reporting levels, encouraging victims to talk about their experiences and access support from police and other statutory and voluntary organisations. They are also calling on support services to make #ReportingStalking a priority in their local area. 73% of stalking victims experience 100 incidents before reporting.
This week, Suzy Lamplagh Trust have launched their latest report – Out of Sight, Out of Mind: 2 Years On.
Suzy Lamplugh Trust conducted a Freedom of Information investigation into the local response to stalking, looking at what progress has been made by statutory agencies including police forces and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) since the release of the 2016 Suzy Lamplugh Trust report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind. You can read the full report here.
What is stalking?
Suzy Lamplugh Trust defines stalking as ‘A pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.’
Stalking can consist of any type of behaviour such as regularly sending flowers or gifts, making unwanted or malicious communication, damaging property and physical or sexual assault. If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted, causing you fear, distress or anxiety then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.
When many people hear the word stalking they still think of a stranger lurking in the shadows or a delusional fan following a celebrity. Whilst these cover some stalking scenarios they are by no means the majority. About 45% of people who contact the Helpline are being stalked by ex-intimates (i.e. ex partners) and a further third have had some sort of prior acquaintance with their stalker; you may have dated, married or been a friend with your stalker. Just because you know/knew the stalker does not mean that the situation is your fault – it is still stalking and it is wrong.
Who is a typical victim of stalking?
Anyone can become a victim of stalking. A report produced by Dr. Lorraine Sheridan and Network for Surviving Stalking, in which 2,292 victims of stalking were surveyed, found that victims’ ages ranged from 10 to 73, they were male and female, were spread across the entire socio-economic spectrum and a large proportion (38%) were professionals. Dr. Sheridan concluded that virtually anyone can become a victim of stalking and the only way to avoid doing so would be to avoid the social world.
Stalking & Domestic Abuse
Stalking and domestic abuse are highly correlated, with coercive control and stalking often both present simultaneously (Norris et al 2011).
A 2017 report looking at cases of criminal homicides in the UK, published by the University of Gloucestershire, in association with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, revealed that stalking behaviours were present in 94% of the cases.
What can I do if I am being stalked?
Talk to someone
This is the most important thing you can do – if people know, they can help to make you safe.
For advice and information you can call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.
To report incidents to the police, call 101, but if you ever feel in danger, call 999 immediately. Suzy Lamplugh Trust want the police to be on board in these situations, as early as possible. The sooner there is some formal form of intervention, the sooner what you are experiencing is likely to stop.
Experiencing stalking is very distressing and it is recommended you get some emotional support to help you cope with the situation. Talking to your GP can be a good first step, or you can contact the Samaritans any time at 116 123 if you just need someone to talk to.
Record what is happening
Keep a log of any incidents and any evidence you may have. This log can help support services to better understand the pattern of behaviour and helps the police to see it is not an isolated incident. However, please remember you don’t need to have collected a log in order to report to the police – it can help make things clearer to them but it is not required.
Take digital safety seriously
About 40% of people who contact the National Stalking Helpline have experienced some form of cyber or digitally-enabled stalking. Some things we advise you to do:
- Ensure your devices have not been compromised – if your stalker ever had access to your phone or another device of yours, turn the device off immediately and seek professional advice
- Review your privacy settings on all social media, and ask friends and family to do the same
- Change email, social media and bank account passwords regularly
- Ask friends to not post photos or information of you or about your location online
- Download the Bright Sky app for more information on improving your online safety, in particular when you have experienced domestic abuse
Vary your routine
If you are being watched or followed, Suzy Lamplugh Trust advise you look at ways to vary your routine to increase safety – for example changing the route you go to and from work and leaving and arriving at different times. You can also implement a buddy system whereby a trusted friend or family member are always on alert should you not arrive somewhere when you were expected to. A buddy system involves letting someone know wherever you are going somewhere, who you are meeting, when they should expect you to check in with them, and what to do if you do not.
For more information and resources, visit suzylamplugh.org.