What is stalking?
It is hard to give an exact definition of stalking because a stalker will often use multiple and differing methods to harass their victims. 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, harassment or anxiety then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.
Can stalking only be done by a stranger?
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 40% 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 victim; you may have dated, married or been a friend of 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.
Am I overreacting?
No. If you feel scared, worried or angered by the behaviour then you should not have to put up with it. Some people may lack the knowledge or understanding of how stalking can negatively impact on every aspect of your life, however that does not mean that you are overreacting – only that we have a long wait to to go in raising awareness about the seriousness of stalking.
What key information would you give to stalking victims?
Trust your instincts, if someone is making you feel scared or intimidated do not ignore these feelings, research indicated early intervention in a stalking case can stop it. After you have told your stalker once clearly and firmly that you no longer wish to have any contact with them try not to engage with or meet them again, even if it is to tell them to leave you alone.
Further support and advice is available at the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.