Chloe had been in a relationship with her partner for seven years. For most of the relationship, he had been controlling, threatening and emotionally abusive. He was constantly paranoid that Chloe was having affairs. He would follow her, track her movements on social media and would interrogate her about where she had been and who she had been with.
When Chloe ended the relationship, her ex-partner refused to accept that she no longer wished to be with him. He began to escalate his level of abuse.
Chloe’s ex bombarded her with constant messages, calls and social media contact. He would follow her and even harassed her friends and family trying to find out where Chloe was. Chloe felt responsible that her family and friends were now being targeted by him. He also made many violent threats: to burn down her house with her inside, or to kill or harm himself if she refused to go back to him.
Chloe felt exhausted and worn-down because he refused to leave her alone. She started to feel like her only choice was to return to the relationship. Chloe felt powerless and scared that things would get worse if she didn’t. She knew his past behavior and what he was capable of. When they had been together she could pick up on his moods and knew ‘what was coming next’. However, now she was faced with someone who had become more unpredictable and much more frightening.
Chloe approached Black Country Women’s Aid for help. Her BCWA case worker supported her to talk through what was happening. She helped Chloe to understand that her ex’s behavior was not normal, that it was not her fault. She also explained that what he was doing was stalking, and that this was a criminal offence.
Chloe opened up to her case worker about some of the feelings that she had been struggling with. Chloe had strong feelings of guilt and loss at the end of the relationship. She had loved her partner and hoped that he would change. Her support worker helped Chloe to understand that these feelings were very normal. However, she explained that Chloe should not feel guilty: her ex was responsible for his own behaviour. Chloe was glad to talk to someone who helped her to realise this but did not make her feel ‘stupid’ because of her feelings. She knew that she had found a service she could trust to support her.
Chloe spent time with her support worker exploring what stalking and harassing behaviour was. Her worker explained how to gather evidence to report this criminal offence to the police. Chloe’s support worker also looked at the level of risk Chloe’s ex posed to her. She made referrals to other services that would be part of building a supporting team around Chloe to increase her safety.
Chloe’s support worker also advocated on her behalf, calling agencies such as the police on her behalf. With encouragement, Chloe now feels strong enough to deal with agencies herself.
Chloe now has a restraining order for two years against her ex-partner. Her journey has not been easy. She has wanted to give up on many occasions, considering retracting statements she had made, or going back to her ex. However she feels that BCWA have kept her going.
She now wants to help others who feel trapped by stalking and harassment. She has been consulting with us as we set up our new Black Country Stalking Support Service.
We have changed Chloe’s name to protect her identity.
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