Stalking and harassment means intentional behaviour, involving more than one incident, which causes fear, upset or annoyance to the victim. Stalking is a criminal offence.
This behaviour involves persistent, repeated and unwanted attention, usually from someone known to the victim.
It can take many forms, and vary in intensity and seriousness. It is seldom an isolated incident and can include:
- hanging around an individual's home or place of work
- repeated unwanted phone calls, texts and/or emails
- unwanted gifts, cards, flowers etc.
- 'cyber' stalking on the internet
- driving past the individual's home, school or work
- threats made in person or by text, telephone, letter or email to the individual or family/friends
- damage to cars or other property
Stalking may escalate to physical assault, sexual assault and even murder.
Who is at risk?
Stalkers come from all walks of life, as do their victims. Although there is not a 'typical' stalker, in the majority of cases, where the victim is known to the stalker, they are a current or former partner.
Stalking and harassment often occur within the context of domestic abuse and many women report harassment from ex-partners.
Sexual violence within the relationship is an additional risk factor for ongoing abuse. 29% of women who experienced sexual abuse reported being stalked and harassed after leaving the relationship compared to 18% who experienced other forms of domestic abuse.
The key risk factor for experiencing stalking and harassment is being female. Experience of persistent and unwanted attention of the kind that may be characterised as stalking is relatively widespread in Scotland among women, and among young women in particular.
What should I do?
If you, or someone you are working with, is being stalked they should:
- never react to or communicate with the stalker - however ignoring the harassment will not necessarily cause the stalker to stop
- contact the local police as soon as possible. Ask for the name of the officer in charge of the case and record the crime reference number
- do not respond and never agree to meet with your stalker or communicate with them in any way
- inform friends, neighbours and colleagues of what is happening
- improve personal safety - carry a mobile phone with you as well as a personal attack alarm. Consider improvements to your home security
- record any incident you feel is suspicious.
What help is there?
Contact us on the details below or get in touch with one of the following organisations:
Action Scotland Against Stalking
Rape Crisis Scotland08088 01 03 02 - free Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline, available every day, 6pm to midnight