Stalking is a crime and not something you should have to put up with.
Is it happening to you?
Stalking means persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered, harassed and threatened. This can include a range of behaviour; the important thing is that you find it unwanted and unwelcome.
Stalking can happen to anyone, and you can be stalked by a man or a woman. Most people know their stalker in some way (eg through work or a relationship), but some people don’t or may have only had a brief encounter with them.
Stalking can build up slowly over time, which can make it hard to recognise. Stalking can also go on for a long time, which can make you feel overwhelmed and worried that it will never stop.
However, stalking is a crime and is not something you should have to put up with.
Do you recognise any of the following?
These are just some of the ways a stalker may behave, there are lots of other types of unwanted behaviours that a stalker may use.
Persistently attempting to contact youin person, on the phone, online, by letter or via social media.
Persistent unwanted giftseven things like flowers or chocolates.
Turning up at your workplaceor hanging around other places you might be.
Following youor getting other people to follow you.
Setting up fake social media profilesor websites to make allegations about you or defame you in other ways.
Contacting your friends and familyto threaten you or gain information about you.
Damaging your propertyor breaking into your house.
Not stopping their behaviour when askedescalating to breaching civil or criminal orders.
Questions often asked by victims of stalking
What does the law say?
Stalking became a criminal offence on 25 November 2012. Amendments were made to the Protection from Harassment Act were made that made stalking a specific offence in England and Wales for the first time.
Stalking itself is not legally defined, but the Act includes a list of intentional behaviours which together constitute stalking. This is because the ways stalking is carried out can vary widely.
Stalking is a pattern of repeated and persistent unwanted behaviour that is intrusive and engenders fear, it is when one person becomes fixated or obsessed with another and the attention is unwanted. Threats may not be made but victims may still feel scared. Importantly threats are not required for the criminal offence of stalking to be prosecuted.
Harassment can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.
Did I do something to make this happen or encourage it?
Many people feel like they are to blame for stalking, and the person who is stalking or harassing you might encourage you to feel you are to blame.
You might also worry that you encouraged the stalking behaviour, for example if you have responded to the stalker, if the stalker is someone you know or have been on a date with or a brief relationship with. The stalker may tell you that they love you, or that you have hurt their feelings and use this as a way of justifying their behaviour and making you feel responsible for them.
It is important to recognise that you are not to blame. No-one asks to be stalked, and the stalker is 100% responsible for their own behaviour. If you have made it clear that you do not want someone to contact you, then they should respect your wishes and stop. No should mean no.
No-one else thinks this is as serious as I do. Am I being paranoid?
Stalking can be difficult to recognise even for the person who is experiencing it. Some of the behaviours such as leaving gifts might seem ok or even ‘romantic’ to outsiders. It may therefore be hard for others to understand how frightened these things make you feel. You may feel that others think that because you are a man you shouldn’t be worried about or frightened by stalking.
Other people may also know the person who is stalking you and either not see them as threatening or find it hard to believe that they could behave in this way.
It may be difficult for you to explain what is happening, and you may worry that you sound paranoid. People may give you advice such as ‘just ignore them’ and you may have tried this. You may feel more isolated and scared if you have reached out to others and they haven’t taken your concerns seriously.
However, only you may know exactly what is happening, and it is important for you to listen to your own feelings and fears. Your instincts are the best indicator that something is wrong.
If we had an intimate relationship, is this still stalking?
Most people do know their stalker in some way, and in many cases they have been in a relationship with them, even a brief one. Stalking can occur when you are in a relationship, and get worse once you have ended the relationship. It may even make you feel that returning to the relationship is better than putting up with the stalking behaviour, and this can be what the stalker wants.
Whether you are in a relationship or not, or even if you have returned to a relationship one or more times, no-one asks to be stalked, and there are no excuses for a stalker’s behaviour.
I feel worried but don’t know if this is stalking. What can I do?
If you feel concerned about someone’s behaviour towards you, your family or your friends, even if there has been no violence, you can still call us to speak to a support worker to get some advice.
It may be helpful to list some of the things that have happened to you, to help you identify patterns in the behaviour and what risks you feel there are.
There has been no violence or threats of violence. Is this still illegal?
Under the Protection from Harassment Act, violence or threats of violence are not necessary for the criminal offence of stalking to be prosecuted. The key factor is that the behaviour causes alarm and distress.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can support you.
Talk to someone.
It can help.
It is important to remember that being stalked is not your fault. Whether or not you know the stalker, whether or not you’ve had contact with them or have asked them to stop, no one has the right to invade your privacy or to make you feel uncomfortable or scared.
If you are experiencing this kind of unwanted attention, you should not have to live with this. We are here to offer advice and help. We will listen to you, and give you time and space to decide what you want to do. We won’t judge you because of what you say or force you to make a decision you do not want to make.
Please contact us to speak to an advisor and find out more about how we can support you. We have male and female support workers. Agencies: please scroll down for a referral form and details of our secure email.
How we can help
Our support workers are trained specialists who will talk to you about what is happening so that they understand your situation. They will work with you one to one for as long as you need. The things that they can help with include:
Introducing you to an advisor you can confide in
Being there as someone you can talk to in confidence who will listen to you and believe you.
Sharing information with you so that you feel empowered to make decisions that are right for you.
Helping you understand how the criminal justice process works
Explaining how to report to the police, what will happen, what evidence they will need, and explore with you how to safely gather evidence that may assist the police with their enquiries.
If you do choose to report, your worker can support you through the legal process, at court, and afterwards.
Developing a safety plan
Helping you to look at the stalker’s behaviour and using your knowledge of them to develop a safety plan.
Being an advocate with other agencies
Ensuring your views, opinions, wishes and feelings are respected and listened to. This could include helping create a safety plan with your workplace, or working with your housing provider to help you feel more secure at home.
*Although our support workers may work closely with other organisations to ensure you get the best support, they are independent of all statutory agencies including the police, local authority and social services.
Information and support
National stalking support
Local police force
We work with you in a confidential way and will not share any information with your family, the police or anyone else without your permission. The only time we will ever share any information without your permission is if we are worried about a child or vulnerable person’s safety.