At the end of April, from the 20th – 24th, it was National Stalking Awareness Week in the UK, led by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Stalking Helpline. This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the helpline.
Stalking is something that a lot of people do not always take seriously. It can be a bit of a grey area in terms of what actually constitutes stalking, if it is illegal, and if there is any help available. There are a number of ways in which stalking can manifest itself, so it can be hard to identify if you are not made aware, and unfortunately it is becoming a more common problem in the UK.
Worryingly, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men have been stalked at some point in their lives (CSEW2013), and Stalking Awareness Week aims to raise the profile of stalking, what it involves, and how people can seek out help and support. It is crucial that stalking is widely recognised as the troubling and sinister activity it is, and not taken as something trivial, funny, or even romantic.
As part of the campaign, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust produced a video called ‘Is This Stalking?’ in order to address some of the myths surrounding stalking, give a clearer impression of how stalking can manifest itself, and encourage people to seek help. You can watch the video below:
A lot of people might think that stalking only consists of someone following you, but there are a number of things someone can do that qualifies as stalking. For example, stalking can be continuously unwanted communication through text, phone call, or email, showing up at unexpected places, damaging your property, or even physical and sexual assault. It is also important to stress that even if you know the person stalking you, maybe they are a former friend or ex-partner, it still very much constitutes as stalking. Any persistent and unwanted behaviour that causes you fear or anxiety is classed as stalking, and no one should have to live with it.
Stalking can cause extreme psychological distress to people experiencing it and it is crucial that they seek support as soon as possible, as stalking is unpredictable, and behaviour could escalate to violence and assault. Stalking can often play a part in domestic abuse situations, and serves as another way of exercising fear and control. However, no matter what circumstances are surrounding stalking, it is never acceptable, and help and support should always be sought.
For information and guidance about stalking, you can visit the Stalking Helpline website here, or call the help line on 0808 802 0300. You can also call the All Wales Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 80 10 800, or you can call Calan DVS in Neath Port Talbot: 01639 633580, Powys: 01874 625146 and Bridgend: 01656 766139. If you are in immediate danger always call 999.