Posted: Monday 16th December 2019
We want to talk about the misconceptions around stalking that we often hear or see on social media.
“Stalking isn’t a crime” – Stalking is a crime in England and Wales under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. It is defined as a pattern of unwanted and persistent behaviour that is motivated by a fixation or obsession that causes the victim distress, alarm or fear of violence. Stalking isn’t characterised by certain behaviours but rather the motivation behind behaviours and their impact.
“Stalking and harassment are the same” – Harassment can often include some of the same behaviours as stalking and cause a victim fear and distress. However, stalking is differentiated by the motivation of the stalker. To meet the definition, a stalker’s behaviour would show a fixation or obsession that causes a victim alarm and distress.
“If your stalker doesn’t threaten you then they aren’t a danger” – Just because your stalker has not threated you does not mean that you are not at risk. Risk is not solely defined as risk of physical violence; it also includes risk of psychological trauma to victims. Such a risk should not be underestimated. Recording all incidents might help show if the stalkers behaviour has changed or even escalated.
“All stalkers are male and all victims are female” – It is important to remember that stalking is a gender neutral crime, anyone can be a victim of stalking, and victims must receive the same standard of support regardless of what gender they identify as.
“It’s not stalking if you’re in a relationship” – If your partner’s behaviour is fixated or obsessive, and their behaviour causes you fear, distress or alarm, this meets the definition of stalking regardless of your relationship. Stalking behaviours that take place in a relationship are often methods of coercive control. We would advise victims to keep a diary of incidents and seek support from NextLink by calling: 0117 925 0680 or by visiting their website: https://nextlinkhousing.co.uk/
“Stalkers are weird and lonely with limited social skills, they lurk in the shadows” – There is no stalker ‘type’. The only common feature that stalkers have is their fixation and obsession on their victim. The National Stalking Helpline hear from victims with stalkers from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, professions, educational levels, nationalities and religions.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust hope to reduce the risk of violence and aggression through campaigning, education and support following Suzy Lamplugh’s disappearance in July 1986. Find out more about her story and their mission: https://www.suzylamplugh.org/suzys-story
The National Stalking Helpline is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and provides independent support for those who have been victims of stalking. If you or someone you know needs support, please contact 0808 802 0300 or visit: https://www.suzylamplugh.org/