Stalking can form part of a pattern of domestic abuse, often taking place once a relationship has ended.
Claire* was with *John for about 2 or 3 years in total. She said:
“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.”
Stalking and harassment can take many forms, from following you or hanging around your home or place of work, to bullying behaviour, sending abusive messages or unwanted gifts.
Stalking isn’t always someone physically following or contacting you either, some people also experience cyber stalking. This can take the form of repeated unwanted messages, or spreading personal or false information online.
Whatever form the harassment takes it can have a devastating effect on every part of someone’s life, from their relationships to mental health and even their ability to work, or go about their daily life.
Claire continued: “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.”
If you are a victim of stalking there are things you can do straight away to take control.
Support friends and family:
If someone you know is being stalked or harassed by someone they will need your support, here are some things you can do to help:
Claire said: “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.”
Help is out there:
Stalking and harassment is a crime and we will take it seriously. If you feel that you are in immediate danger call 999 otherwise you can contact us on 101.
*Names have been changed.