Events Health People

National Stalking Awareness Week

By John Charlton

National Stalking Awareness Week takes place this week. More than 120,000 people are victims of stalking every year. Victims’ ages range from 10 to over 70, both male and female, across a wide spectrum. Few will report to the police and fewer still reports will result in conviction. Stalkers can cause their victims fear, severe distress, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Signs of stalking include threatening phone calls, malicious texts, emails and letters, sending unwanted gifts, loitering on the pavement outside the victim’s house, damaging their property, threatening family members and friends, spying on and following the victim, attempting contact by any means and harassment in the workplace. One in 20 callers to the National Stalking Helpline have said they are being stalked by a colleague or ex-colleague. Half of all victims reduce or stop work all together as a result. Victims may know their stalker, sometimes after following a short relationship; others may be stalked by their ex-partner. Three quarters of victims murdered by the perpetrator were stalked in the lead-up to their death.

Romy Briant MBE, Chair of Oxfordshire Charity Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse says: “Almost all stalkers have a mental or emotional problem. The reason for their obsession is control, power or revenge, and this can lead to violence, physical or sexual assault and murder. No one should live in fear of another person, but sadly, victims may suffer 100 incidents before they contact the Police.”

In 2012 The Protection of Freedom Act made stalking a crime, covering any kind of unwanted attention. In 1997 The Protection from Harassment Act became a criminal offence, covering bullying and violent threats to the victim and/or their family.

Useful numbers:
National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 9.30am-4pm Mon, Tues, Thurs, Friday; 1pm-4pm Weds.
Paladin: Provides advice to victims of stalking, raises awareness of dangers and risks of stalking and advocacy to high-risk victims: 020 3866 4107
Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 731 0055 (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm. Sat 10am-4pm) Website: www.reducingtherisk.org.uk
Womens Aid/Refuge: 0808 2000 247 ( 24 hour Freephone)