Stalking and Harassment
Stalking and harassment are crimes. It doesn’t matter whether they are committed in person or online.
Punishments for offenders can include a prison sentance, a £5,000 fine and courts can also impose a restraining order banning the offender from doing certain things for a certain lenght of time even if they are found not guilty of an offence.
Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention where the victim feels pestered and harassed. There are many forms of harassment including:
- Telephone calls, text messages or other contact such as via the internet (i.e. social networking sites)
- Frequent, unwanted contact e.g. appearing at the home or workplace of the victim
- Threats of harm to the victim and/or others associated with them (including sexual violence and threats to kill)
- Harassment of people associated with the victim (e.g. family members, partner, work colleagues)
- Driving past the victim’s home or work
- Following or watching the victim
- Sending letters or unwanted gifts to the victim
- Damaging the victims property
- Burglary or robbery of the victim’s home, workplace, vehicle or other
- Physical and/or sexual assault of the victim and even murder
Up to five million people in the UK experience stalking or harassment every year and many victims will suffer dozens of incidents before seeking help. If you are being stalked or harassed you are not alone and help is out there.
It is important to remember that stalking isn’t a ‘one off’ crime. It’s a series of incidents which when taken in isolation can appear trivial but when put together they become far more sinister.
What makes the problem particularly hard to cope with is that it can go on for a long period of time, making you feel constantly anxious and afraid. Sometimes the problem can build up slowly and it can take a while for you to realise that you are caught up in an ongoing campaign of abuse.
The problem isn’t always ‘physical’ - you may suffer psychologically as well. Social media and the internet can be used for stalking and harassment, and ‘cyber-stalking’ or online threats can be just as intimidating. If you feel you have been affected by cyber-stalking, you can get more information and safety tips from Get Safe Online.
If you’re experiencing persistent and unwanted attention, and the behaviour is making you feel fearful, harassed or anxious, then you are a victim of stalking. It’s not something that you should have to live with, and we're here to help you.