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Stalking and harassment: a police call handler’s story

"I was with *John for about 2 or 3 years in total. It was a very on off relationship. He was cheating on me but I kept still going back to him because he talked me round. When I finally said right that’s it, I’ve had enough, he sat me in his lounge for about two hours just talking at me telling why I would never meet anyone else, I would never meet anyone who would love me as much as he did, I would never have children, I would never be happy.

"After the relationship ended for about 2 years he just kept turning up. He’d turn up when I was having a drink with my friends in my local pub. He sent me flowers on Valentine’s Day to work anonymously, he never sent me flowers but I knew it was him and that night he text me asking if my flat was colourful. It made me shake, knowing that they were from him. I was getting so many text messages and phone calls from him that I stopped turning my phone off cos when I turned it on again I was being bombarded so I just had it on silent all the time.

Domestic Abuse 2017 Social Media Inpost2

"There was one day… I had caller display put on my landline at home, cos I lived on my own. About 2 o’clock one morning I got a phone call from his home number so I didn’t answer it and about 20 minutes later my doorbell rang and that’s about the time it takes to get from his house to mine so I didn’t answer it and then my phone rang again and it was his mobile so I knew that it was him at the door. It was about 2.30 by now and it took me until 10.30 to actually open my curtains. I couldn’t phone anybody, I didn’t open the curtains because he would have known I was in there.

"I live in a first floor flat but I still didn’t want him to see that I was there. So I phoned my mum about 10.30 and she said he’d been there and he’d been to my friend’s house. I was shaking, it was awful. It was horrible, it really affected me.

"I didn’t seek any support, I didn’t know I could. He actually stopped, it was about 2 years before he stopped and I don’t know if my mum got involved or somebody said stop…. I don’t know if he just realised it was time to give up. It was only at a christening and my friend’s dad was a police officer and he said you should have told us, we’d have done something about it. But I didn’t know. I didn’t speak to friends and family enough. I didn’t tell them the full extent. My friends saw him at the pub and my mum and my sister knew some of the story, but I never really said about what was happening to anybody. My work colleague even offered to buy the flowers off me on Valentine’s Day. People knew something wasn’t right but no one was actually involved.

"I lost a lot of confidence. Before that I used to go out all over the place and was quite happy to go out on my own and just be by myself but I was always looking over my shoulder wondering if he was going to be there or not. I didn’t go to places that I thought I might bump into him. I still, even now, 15 years later, wonder what would happen if I bumped into him."

"I’ve moved on now, it was so long ago, but it took a long time. My job has changed and I’ve been very happily married for a few years now. Life has moved on.

"The only advice I can think of giving to someone in the same position is to tell someone.  Speak with the police, they can help.  Speak with family and friends.  Don’t try to pretend it isn’t happening and don’t keep thinking it will go away; it may not stop without police involvement.  I think if I had shared my experiences with someone at the time, I would have been a far stronger person, been able to deal with it better and it would have stopped a lot sooner."

For advice and support, visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org/domestic-abuse/help-and-support/