What is stalking?
Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered and harassed. It includes behaviour that happens two or more times, directed at or towards you by another person, which causes you to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear violence might be used against you.
Stalking can happen to anyone. A stalker can be a former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, partner, an acquaintance, work colleague, or a stranger.
Stalking can cover a wide range of activities and can include:
- unwanted or malicious communication
- unwanted attention from somebody seeking a romantic relationship
- violent predatory behaviour
- sending gifts which are unwanted
- persistently following someone
- repeatedly going uninvited to their home
- loitering somewhere frequented by the person
- interfering with or damaging their property
- watching or spying on someone
- cyber-stalking which includes on-line stalking and threats
What makes the problem particularly hard to cope with is that it can go on for a long period of time, making you feel constantly anxious and afraid. Sometimes the problem can build up slowly and it can take a while for you to realise you are caught up in an ongoing campaign of abuse.
Social media and the internet are often used for stalking, and ‘cyber-stalking’ or online threats can be just as intimidating. If you’ve been affected by cyber-stalking, you can get more information and safety tips from Get Safe Online. https://www.getsafeonline.org/
How to protect yourself
If you are experiencing stalking or harassment, there are steps you can take to help deal with this type of behaviour.
- Take a mobile telephone with you when you go out.
- Carry a personal attack alarm and learn how to use it. Do not carry anything that is meant for use as a weapon.
- Try to change your daily routines.
- Ask friends to go with you whenever possible, and always try to let someone know what your plans are.
- Contact your telephone company to see what action they can take against malicious callers. Register with Telephone Preference Service to have your details removed from direct marketing lists.
- Review your security settings on social networks
- You can find more personal safety advice on the National Stalking Helpline website - https://www.suzylamplugh.org/Pages/Category/national-stalking-helpline
- Keep a record of what happened, where and when, every time you were followed, phoned, received post or e-mail. Write the information down as soon as possible, when events are still fresh in your mind.
- The more details you have the better. How did the offender look or sound? What were they wearing? What is the make and number plate or colour of their car?
- Keep letters, and parcels as evidence. Even if they contain frightening or upsetting messages, do not throw them away and handle them as little as possible.
- Keep copies of e-mails, text messages and social network messages. Print copies if you can.
- Keep a record of telephone numbers. Tape-record telephone conversations if you can.
- Tell your friends, neighbours and work colleagues about what is happening.
- Try to get photographic or video evidence of your stalker (especially if they are someone already warned by the police not to come near you).
- Answer the phone by saying 'hello', not your name or number.
- Try to keep calm and not show emotion. Many callers will give up if they don't think that they are making an impression on you or your feelings.
- Use an answering machine to screen out calls and only talk to people you want to.
- If the caller rings again, put the handset down on a table for a few minutes - the caller will think you're listening. After a few minutes replace the handset, you do not have to listen to what the caller has to say.
- Use 1471 and write down details of calls received, including the time received and telephone numbers (even unanswered calls).
If you know or find out, who is stalking you
- Do not confront your stalker or engage them in conversation.
- Do not, under any circumstances, agree to meet with them to talk about how you feel about them bothering you.
- Do not respond in any way to calls, letters, or conversations. If you ignore the phone nine times and pick it up on the tenth, you will send the message that persistence pays. Once they have your attention, they will be encouraged to carry on.
- Call 101 to talk about stalking and harassment - always call 999 in an emergency.
Stay safe when using dating websites
- Read and follow all safety advice given on the site themselves. Many dating websites will have strict rules and guidance to protect people using the site.
- Keep all communications with unknown persons through the dating website channels; do not pass personal communication details such as phone numbers or social media account information. Report any suspicious or offensive behaviour to the online dating site so that action can be taken.
- Don’t send information on your daily routine or future plans to someone you do not know.
- If meeting in person, tell someone where you are going and check in with them before/during/after the meet. Don’t share a taxi with someone you don’t know and be mindful of leaving drinks or mobile phones unattended.
Stay Safe when using general social media or web services
- Don't disclose any personal information such as an address, date of birth, telephone number or workplace to people you do not know or on a public forum. Don’t reply to or accept friend requests/follows from accounts you don’t know or are unsure of.
- Consider creating or using a username or tag that doesn’t reveal too much about yourself or provide personal information.
- Turn off your geo-location tags on your phone before sending or posting an image. Some mobile phones, tablets and digital cameras automatically attach data to the photo file that identifies where the picture was taken. Turning this function off helps you to avoid a situation where someone might be able to trace your movements from pictures that you have sent or posted.
If you’re experiencing persistent and unwanted attention, and the behaviour is making you feel fearful, harassed or anxious, then you are a victim of stalking. It’s not something you should have to live with, and we’re here to help you.
We believe stalking is Never OK.
Stalking hurt individuals and communities, and reporting it allows the University and the police to better understand and deal with what is happening.
- To the Police. If you want to report stalking incidents directly to the police, you can call 101 for a non-emergency, use their online reporting form, or call 999 in an emergency.
- Report to the University and get Support. Students and staff can report an incident using the University’s Report and Support system. You can choose to do this anonymously or you can request support from an adviser. If you choose to talk to an adviser they will be able to talk through the options and support available to you, in confidence.
- University Policies. If you choose to make a formal complaint to the University about a student or member of staff there are procedures which set out the steps you'll need to follow.
- Talk to a friend. Talking things through with someone you trust can sometimes help.
- National Stalking Helpline. Or you can call them on 0808 802 0300 for advice and help. The Suzy Lamplugh website also have useful information.
- Victim Support. If you report a crime to the police, they should automatically ask you if you would like help from an organisation like Victim Support. But anyone affected by crime can contact them directly – you don’t need to talk to the police to get Victim Support help.
- Student Life Adviser. An adviser can talk through the University's procedures, how to make a complaint and what support is available, in confidence.
- Residential Life Team. Whether it is your neighbourhood Student Services Resident (SSR) or the Duty SSR, if you are living in UEA residences there is someone to talk to.
- The uea(su) Advice Service is a free, confidential service. Advisers can support students who have been named in a disciplinary report for breach of the General Regulations for Students, and can talk through the procedure, what options are available and help you complain if you are unhappy with the process.
- Extenuating Circumstances. If you feel your studies have been affected by what has happened you can consider applying for extenuating circumstances.
- Human Resource Adviser. An adviser can talk through the options available whether the incident involved another staff member at UEA, a student, or a visitor to campus.
- Health Assured - Employee Assistance Programme. This free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year service is available to all UEA students and staff. The programme offers confidential support independent from UEA, with professional consultation, counselling, information, resources and referrals to services in your local area.
Find out what other support is available.
- Are you in immediate danger? If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured call 999.
- Find a safe space. If an incident has just happened, try and find somewhere you feel safe.
- On campus. If you are at the University you can call University Security on 01603 592222 for emergencies (01603 592352 for non-emergencies).
- If you are in UEA Accommodation? Call your Duty Student Services Resident (SSR) who can respond from 6pm to 7am during weekdays and over the entire weekend.
Are you worried about someone else experiencing stalking?
If you think someone you know has experienced stalking there are lots of ways in which you can help them.
Understanding the behaviours associated with stalking is a good place to start. Most people will usually describe what has or is happening to them and how it's making them feel.
You can find more information and advice on the I'm worried about someone else page.