IS IT STALKING? That is the vital question being addressed in a new awareness film being released by the UK’s leading personal safety charity to launch National Stalking Awareness Week (20 -24 April 2015)
With 1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men being stalked at some point in their lives* the film, commissioned by charity Suzy Lamplugh Trust, helps to educate the public about what stalking is and to make clear it’s not romantic, trivial or funny, its worrying, serious and illegal.
The two-minute animated film, ‘This is Stalking’ looks at what stalking is and the different ways it can manifest as well as offering practical help and support for people who are experiencing it, through the National Stalking Helpline.
Kristiana Wrixon, Manager of the Helpline, said: “Stalking is a very common and sinister problem in the UK but there are still a lot of myths around it that need to be dispelled, which is why this film is so important.
“We know victims who have contacted the National Stalking Helpline tell us they felt unable to seek help early on because of a fear of being called dramatic, laughed at or dismissed. If a victim of stalking is unable to seek help early then they are at higher risk of experiencing psychological distress, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or being physically assaulted or even murdered.
“Coming forward can be difficult in any situation but is made worse by a society in which stalking is often seen as something of a joke and is often misunderstood by the public and professionals alike.”
Kristiana believes the sale of T-shirts with slogans such ‘You Call It Love I Call It Stalking’ and ‘You’re Noone Til You Have Your First Stalker’ underline the fact many people regard stalking as a joke and use the word in a throwaway capacity, especially in relation to social media behaviour.
Stalking is repeated unwanted contract from one person to another, which demonstrates either a fixation or obsession and causes the victim to feel alarm, distress or fear of violence. It may involve personal contact but also via the phone, email, letter or social media.
So the question ‘Is it Stalking?’ is relevant to everyone, and it is something people need to understand for their own safety.
As well as releasing the film, for every day of Stalking Awareness Week the Suzy Lamplugh Trust will be sharing a myth and fact about stalking, each day, via social media and encouraging other people to share them as widely as possible.
The Campaign table and daily messages will include:
MONDAY: Suzy Lamplugh Trust (SLT) shares the film on Givey** and asks people to so the same via social media, including Twitter, using the hashtag #Isitstalking?
- MYTH: Stalking only happens to celebrities or other high profile people
- FACT: 1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men will be stalked at some time in their life.
- MYTH: Stalking is usually carried out by strangers
- FACT: Over 80 per cent of people are stalked by someone they know.
- MYTH: Being stalked is annoying and strange but not really dangerous.
- FACT: A US study looking at females murdered by ex-partners showed 76 per cent of victims had been stalked in the lead-up to their murder.
- MYTH: Stalking only happens to adults
- FACT: Children and young people can be stalked too. Their age alone does not make unwanted behaviour bullying – it may be stalking.
Rachel Griffin, Chief Executive of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which manages National Stalking Helpline and Stalking Awareness Week, said: “Although individuals are more likely to be a victim of stalking than any other kind of inter-personal violence, the crime is not being taken seriously enough and a key part of that is the public perception of what stalking is and how dangerous it can be.”
Now the Suzy Lamplugh Trust is urging people to watch and share the film with their friends and family, and if they are able also make a donation to The Reach Appeal, which is raising funds for The National Stalking Helpline.
Rachel said: “The National Stalking Helpline is a vital resource for people who are experiencing stalking. It dealt with 2672 calls and emails last year but at our current capacity 40 per cent of people cannot get through, so we desperately need more funds.
“We are pleased to be sharing the film through the online donation platform Givey** and we are urging everyone to watch and share our film and if they possibly can donate some money help us reach more people.”
Online communication has meant stalkers have more tools in their arsenal than ever before and it is important online stalking is taken as seriously as ‘offline’ stalking.
On 25 November 2012 stalking became a specific criminal offence in England and Wales for the first time. The new amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 created two new stalking offences, section 2A – stalking and section 4A – stalking that causes serious distress or fear of violence. Section 4A has a maximum of 5 years in prison.
Anyone who is concerned about stalking can contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in immediate danger call 999.