Trigger warning

This page contains information that may be upsetting and triggering to survivors of abuse.

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Stalking & Harassment Services

We support women and girls over 13 who are experiencing stalking and harassment.

 

Stalking means that someone carries out a pattern of repeated and persistent unwanted behaviour against you that makes you feel scared and threatened.

 

If you feel concerned this may be happening to you, we can support you with help and advice. Please read on to find out more.

Stalking: 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. Most people know their stalker in some way, but some people don’t or may have only had a brief encounter with them.

Stalking can build up slowly over time, and it may be very subtle or even feel flattering at the beginning. This this 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.

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Are you being stalked? Do you recognise any of the following?

  • Repeated unwanted contact, by phone, text, in person or online
  • Unwanted gifts, even if they seem like nice things such as flowers
  • Gifts that might not seem strange to anyone else, but might have significant meaning to you which makes you feel threatened
  • Persistently trying to get around any measures you may take to avoid contact, such as making fake online profiles to contact you if you block them
  • Contacting your friends and family in person, online or by phone, as a way of getting to you
  • Always seeming to know where you are and what you are doing, making you feel like you are being watched
  • Turning up at work or school
  • Hanging around places you may be, even if they don’t speak to you
  • Damaging your property or property of your family and friends
  • Using threats to coerce you into meeting them
  • Spreading stories about you to other people
  • Persistent breaching of orders that may have been put in place to protect you
  • Making you fear that violence will be used against you. They may have been violent to you in the past, making this threat feel very real

 

These are just some of the ways a stalker may try to get to you, you may have experienced others.

Don’t suffer in silence

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. You may have found yourself going along with their behaviour out of fear of what they may do if you didn’t. Do not worry, this does not make you to blame in any way.

If you are experiencing this kind of unwanted attention, you should not have to live with this. We are here to help and support you. Get in touch today.

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Frequently asked questions

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. 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 that behaviour. Some of the behaviours such as leaving gifts or flowers might seem ok or even ‘romantic’ to outsiders, and often films or books show ‘persistent’ men ‘wining over’ a woman or girl. It may therefore be hard for others to understand how frightened these things make you feel.

 

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 articulate to others what is happening, and you may worry that you sound paranoid. People may give you advice such as ‘just ignore him’ and you may have tried this. If you have tried to tell people how you feel and they have not taken your concerns seriously, this may make you feel very isolated and even more scared.

 

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. You may even have children with this person. 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. You may feel more in control when you are in the relationship, as the other person’s behaviour becomes more unpredictable when you are not together.

 

You may be worried about how other people see you if you have returned to a relationship with someone who stalked you. You may be concerned that you asked for it in some way. However, no-one but you can really understand how you feel.

 

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.

Talk to someone… it can help

It can be difficult to talk about what is happening, but telling someone who understands can really help. Contact us, and we will help you get the support that you need.

Talking to friends and family is a great way of seeking emotional support, however you may need impartial advice to help you understand what to do next.

We will believe you. We will listen to you, support you, advocate for 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.

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Getting in touch

Please contact us to speak to an advisor and find out more about how we can support you.

If you are from an agency and would like to refer someone you are working with please scroll down for a referral form and details of our secure email.

“Your service was my lifeboat”

How we can support you

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, to support you both emotionally and practically.

The things that they can help with include:

  • Being there for you 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. They will never pressure you to make decisions or take action you’re not comfortable with;
  • Helping you to look at the stalker’s behaviour and using your knowledge of them to develop a safety plan;
  • Helping you to understand how the criminal justice process works, explaining how to report to the police and what will happen, what kind of 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;
  • Advocacy with other agencies you come into contact with, ensuring that your views, opinions, wishes and feelings are respected and listened to. This could include helping you make a safety plan with your workplace or school, or working with your housing provider to help you feel more secure at home;
  • Access to counselling if you feel you want it.

 

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.

Confidentiality

We will work with you in a confidential way. This means that we 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.

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Service locations

The Black Country Stalking Support Service supports women and girls over 13 living in Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Please click below for contact details and information in your area.

Don’t suffer stalking in silence

Call us today