Harassment and stalking can cause victims and their families immense physical, psychological and emotional harm. Offenders stalk or harass their victims online, by post or telephone but often stay anonymous for long periods of time. Both men and women can be victims of harassment and stalking.
Harassment could include:
- Antisocial behaviour
- Bullying at school or in the workplace
- Frequent unwanted communications or gifts
- Telephone calls, text messages or other contact such as via the internet or social networking sites
- Damaging the victim’s property
- Harassment of people associated with the victim, e.g. family members, partners, work colleagues.
Stalking is an aggravated form of harassment and could include:
- Persistently following someone
- Watching or spying on someone
- Repeatedly going uninvited to their home
- Monitoring someone’s use of the internet, email or other form of electronic communication via spyware or tracking apps.
- Interfering with their property
- Identify theft
- Abusing victim’s pets
- Threatening to harm children
A key difference between harassment and stalking is that a stalker is more likely to be more obsessively fixated on one specific individual, their victim, and may do everything they can to locate, follow or track down the victim if they try to move away, change jobs etc.
Stalkers can cause victims serious and lasting physical and metal trauma, therefore it is important that stalking behaviour is identified early and acted upon.
If you or someone you know is being stalked and there is immediate danger or threat to life please call 999. Alternatively, if you have concerns and would like to report stalking or harassment or get advice please contact us.
Any repeated unwanted contact of form of communication is harassment. You can take safety measure such as blocking accounts on social media but if the issues persist please contact us to discuss your concerns. We will take them seriously.
The situation can escalate if you do not report it to the police. Reporting things to us helps us build a picture, especially if the behaviour is ongoing and then take action against the offender.
One of the things that can make it difficult for police and others to deal with harassment and stalking is the continuous, repetitive nature of what may seem like small incidents. Helping the police and courts to see the bigger picture can make it easier to deal with the offender’s behaviour. Things you can do straightaway, if you think you are experiencing harassment or stalking include:
- Keep a diary of events. Write down the date, time, location and details of what happens. It’s also a good idea to include information about any other witnesses who can confirm what happened.
- Keeping copies of letters, texts messages and emails, and taking screenshots of other online messages. Save emails and other materials causing you harassment or fear. Print out hard copies and keep originals. If you are being victimised, only open emails if you know the origin. Make sure your computer has proper security and is virus protected.
- Try to get ‘evidence’ of any events that happen at your home – but be careful to do this discreetly. Waving a camera at someone who is harassing you could put you in danger.
- Do not respond. You should not agree to meet with a stalker or communicate with them.
- Let friends, neighbours and colleagues know what is happening. They can then keep a record of sightings and suspicious incidents to support and protect you.
- Report concerns to the police. Small, continuous, repetitive incidents are taken seriously. You do not need to wait to inform the police about your concerns.