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What is stalking?

What is stalking
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Often when we consider stalking, images of creepy loiterers and shadowy strangers are brought to mind, however in real life this is often not the case. 40% of those who contact The Stalking Helpline are stalked by ex-partners and a further third have at least met their stalkers previously. This can often lead people to believe they are overeating or feel they are in some way to blame when they are being stalked, however this is simply not the case. No one has a right to make you feel threatened, unsafe or anxious no matter what happened in the past or what has been said previously.

What is stalking?

According to The Legal Dictionary, stalking is defined as: ‘criminal activity consisting of the repeated following and harassment of another person’, however stalking can be difficult to be thoroughly defined because so many perpetrators have numerous differing methods in which they can make their victim’s lives a misery. Stalking can include – but is certainly not limited to – any of the following actions:

  • Unwanted communication (texts, letters, calls, emails etc.
  • Unwanted gifts.
  • Showing up the victims home uninvited.
  • Spreading rumors about the victim.
  • Ordering goods in victim’s name.
  • Hacking computers or phones.
  • Asking others about victim’s life.
  • Following the victim.
  • Damaging property.
  • Loitering.
  • Spying.

Dr Lorraine Sheridan has found that stalking can last anywhere between one month and 43 years, with the average session lasting between 6 months and two years.

The Law

On November 25th 2012, amendments were made to The Protection From Harassment Act, these state that stalking is an a unambiguous and specific offence throughout England and Wales.

There were two amendments made under The Protection Of Freedom’s Act of 2012 relating to stalking. Firstly, Section 2A Stalking, which requires evidence that the stalker partook in two or more incidents of harassing behaviour. For example, they could have been making or attempting to make unwanted contact with the victim, publishing statements or material about the victim, monitoring the victim both in real life and online, loitering, interfering with property or spying. If the perpetrator is convicted under this section they can face up to six months in prison.

The second amendment is referred to as Section 4A Stalking. This sections covers incidents in which fear of violence or serious distress has been caused and can be applied if the victim has suffered from emotional or physical trauma. This ruling can result in up to five years in prison for the stalker.

If you are to approach the police, The Stalking Helpline suggests that you print this checklist off (http://www.stalkinghelpline.org/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/Stalking-risk-checklist.pdf) and show it to an officer. Explain that it was created by psychologists in order to help define the sort of stalking the victim is experiencing. You must also collect any evidence that will help prove the stalking has occurred, as the perpetrator will no doubt deny it. Save any texts or emails you’ve received, record calls, take pictures or video of them loitering and keep a log of any occurrences.

What is stalking

The Civil Route

If you do not wish to involve the police, there are ways to take the law into your own hands. This civil route will mean that you are far more in control of proceedings, however you will probably have to pay for all court and lawyer fees.

According to solicitors firm Collyer Bristow, you can sue an individual for stalking you under The Protection For Harassment Act 1997. By doing this you may receive an injunction and damages for any emotional or financial losses you have suffered.

If this injunction is breached it will be treated as either a criminal offence or contempt of court. As a criminal offence, the stalker will be arrested, prosecuted by the CPS and placed in prison for up to five years. If it is ruled contempt of court you can apply to have them imprisoned for up to two years.

Personal Safety

To ensure your safety whilst proceedings are being followed or before you visit the police, consider installing alarms in your house if you haven’t already. Fit locks to your windows and doors, and install motion-sensor lights around your home.

During the day, try to vary your routine so your stalker doesn’t become too familiar with your whereabouts and habits. Lastly, consider informing trusted neighbors about your situation and ask them to be aware for any odd activity.

When you are out, make sure you stay in well-lit, public places and stay alert. It may also be worth carrying a personal alarm at all times.

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About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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