About Stalking

What is stalking?
Can stalking only be done by a stranger?
Am I at risk?
Am I overreacting?
Who can be a victim of stalking?
How long does stalking last?
Can stalking without violence still be damaging?
What key information would you give to stalking victims?
What can I do next?
How can I get further advice or information?

What is stalking?

It is hard to give an exact definition of stalking because stalkers will often use multiple and differing methods to harass their victims. Stalking 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. If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted causing you fear, harassment or anxiety then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.

Can stalking only be done by a stranger?

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 40% of people who contact the Helpline are being stalked by ex-intimates (i.e. ex partners) and a further third have had some sort of prior acquaintance with their victim; 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.

Am I at risk?

Psychologists specialising in the field of stalking have developed a stalking risk checklist. It is recommended that if you decide to report what has been happening to the police, you take the completed checklist with you and show it to a police officer.

Stalking risk checklist

Knowledge of the risk checklist (sometimes referred to as a screening tool or VS DASH) is currently being rolled out to all police forces in England and Wales, but please note at this time not all force areas are aware of the checklist. If the officer you speak to does not recognise the form, explain to them your concerns and that you have brought with you a risk assessment created by specialised psychologists and approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

If you are being stalked by an ex partner and report the matter to the police they may carry out a risk assessment called a DASH. DASH stands for Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour Based Violence. There are a number of different DASH risk assessments which have been developed by psychologists, the police and CAADA. To find out more information about all of them visit www.dashriskchecklist.co.uk.

Am I overreacting?

No. If you feel scared, worried or angered by the behaviour then you should not have to put up with it. Some people may lack the knowledge or understanding of how stalking can negatively impact on every aspect of your life, however that does not mean that you are overreacting – only that we have a long way to go in raising awareness about the seriousness of stalking.

Who can be a victim of stalking?

Anyone can become a victim of stalking. A report produced by Dr. Lorraine Sheridan and Network for Surviving Stalking, in which 2,292 victims of stalking were surveyed, found that victims’ ages ranged from 10 to 73, they were male and female, were spread across the entire socio-economic spectrum and a large proportion (38%) were professionals. Dr. Sheridan concludes that virtually anyone can become a victim of stalking and the only way to avoid doing so would be to avoid the social world.

How long does stalking last?

There is no definite answer to this question. Dr. Lorraine Sheridan’s report (see above) found that stalking could last anywhere from 1 month to 43 years. The average length of time was found to be between 6 months and 2 years. Dr. Sheridan also found that the duration of stalking tends to increase as the stalker’s emotional investment in the relationship increases. This is one of the reasons ex-intimate stalking is often considered to be the most dangerous.

Can stalking without violence still be damaging?

Yes. The absence of violence in a stalking case doesn’t mean the victim is unaffected. Stalking can cause severe psychological distress to a victim. Depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, paranoia, agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder are all common side effects of stalking.

What key information would you give to stalking victims?

Trust your instincts, if someone is making you feel scared or intimidated do not ignore these feelings, research indicates early intervention in a stalking case can stop it. After you have told your stalker once clearly and firmly that you no longer wish to have any contact with them try not to engage with or meet them again, even if it is to tell them to leave you alone.

What can I do if:

For more information about collecting evidence, click here.

How can I get further advice or information?

You can call the National Stalking Helpline for further advice and information on 0808 802 0300, or e-mail us at advice@stalkinghelpline.org

If you are ever in immediate danger call 999

Disclaimer

The information on this website is meant for information purposes only and you should not rely on any advice it contains or take any action in reliance on it without first making your own assessment of it, if necessary with the aid of professional advice. Neither the National Stalking Helpline (or any of the charities which run it) will be responsible for any loss or damage you may suffer if you rely on any advice on this website.