The last week of April 2016 was National Stalking Awareness Week in the UK. The aim was to highlight the importance of reporting this crime early, and before threatening behaviour progresses to a higher stage.
In a survey of more than 4000 people conducted online by YouGov, nearly a fifth of adult women (18 per cent) and eight per cent of men reported that they had been stalked.
Stalking is a very common crime which many people do not report to the authorities for fear that their case will be ridiculed or otherwise belittled by police.
Harassment is defined as behaviour that occurs two or more times which causes one to feel frightened or distressed about potential violence. Stalking usually entails someone becoming fixated or obsessed with someone else, and repeatedly making unwanted and intrusive contact with their victim.
A stalker may be a former sexual partner, an acquaintance or a complete stranger. Stalking often starts in response to rejection, which can trigger the stalker to seek revenge through an unpredictable pattern of stalking behavior which may culminate in breaking into someone’s house or otherwise violating their personal space. Voyeurism is also a common trait.
Stalking can be a daunting and difficult to deal with as it can go on for a long period of time, making the victim feel constantly anxious and afraid. Sometimes the problem can build up slowly, without even the victim seeing this abuse for what it is.
Unfortunately stalking can make a victim very ill. Many victims experience verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse, leaving them in permanent depression and anxiety. It can also lead to irrational behavior, paranoia and in some severe cases, suicide on the part of the victim.
If you feel that you or someone you know is being harassed or intimidated by the behavior of another person, or you feel that you, your friend or family member are at risk of emotional or physical harm, then please contact the stalking helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit the website: http://www.stalkinghelpline.org.