What is stalking and where can you find support if you have a stalker

More than half of all stalking victims who contact the National Stalking Helpline are being targeted by a former partner.
More than half of all stalking victims who contact the National Stalking Helpline are being targeted by a former partner.

A Yorkshire police force is encouraging people who may be victims of stalking to speak up about incidents that cause them concern.

The 'No matter how small' campaign by North Yorkshire Police seeks to raise awareness and has this advice to share:

What is stalking?

Stalking is “a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or serious alarm or distress”. It 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.

Stalking devastates lives and in some cases it can end in death. In a digital world, it’s a crime that can take place all too easily and frequently. Whilst harassment can include some of the same behaviours as stalking and causes a victim fear and distress, stalking is differentiated by the motivation of the stalker.

If a stalker’s behaviour shows a fixation or obsession (which may include unwanted behaviours such as following you, turning up at your work, making vexatious complaints about you, or continuously contacting you) and this behaviour is causing you alarm and distress then this meets the definition of stalking and you should not have to live with it.

Who stalks?

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 55 per cent of stalking victims who contact the National Stalking Helpline are stalked by an ex-intimate partner and 96 per cent of stalking victims know their stalker in some capacity; you may have dated, married or been a friend with 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.

Who is a typical victim of stalking?

Anyone can become a victim of stalking. The latest findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales show that, in the year ending March 2018, stalking was experienced by women and men aged 16 to 74 years across almost all ethnic groups, occupations, disabilities, marital and employment statuses.

In 2016/17, 67 per cent of callers to the National Stalking Helpline were female victims with male stalkers - but 23 per cent were male victims and around a quarter of them had a male stalker.

What can you do?

The most important thing is to tell someone. Stalking thrives on secrecy – if people know they can help to keep you safe. You can contact the National Stalking Helpline for advice about your options and safety planning. To report incidents to the police, call 101, but if you ever feel in danger, call 999 immediately.

If you can, try to keep a log of any incidents and any evidence you may have is will help us to see that these are not isolated incidents and the pattern of behaviour. But, please remember that you do not need to have made a log, or have collected evidence to make a report to the police or get help.

Where can you find help and support?

National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 | The National Stalking Helpline is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Calls are free from all landline telephones and also from mobiles using the O2, Orange, T Mobile, Three (3), Virgin, and Vodafone networks. Calls will not be shown on BT landline bills.

Paladin National Advocacy Service: 0203 866 4107 | Paladin National Advocacy Serviceis the only trauma informed national advocacy service for victims of stalking. They have independent stalking advocate caseworkers who can assist if you need specialist advice or support.

Supporting Victims North Yorkshire
Network for Surviving Stalking
Protection Against Stalking
Women’s Aid – Helpline 0808 2000 247

Men’s advice line – Helpline 0808 8010 327

How to report stalking or harassment

If you wish to report incidents of stalking or harassment, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or if it’s an emergency, always call 999.

For more information visit northyorkshire.police.uk/stalking