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Stalking victims: still supported during lockdown

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National Stalking Week, COVID-19, cyberstalking, working from home, Suzy Lamplugh Trust, “Stalking victims need support as much as ever and we want to reiterate our message that we are here to support you.”

Approximately 1.5 million people in England and Wales are victims of stalking every year. And stalking can have devastating consequences: Alice Ruggles and Shana Grice were killed by their stalkers.

Given these numbers, it is therefore vital that early warning signs are not ignored and that victims feel able to ask for help at an early stage before risk escalates.

Stalking is illegal and includes not only being followed or constantly harassed by another person, but also being sent unwanted emails.

The fixation and obsession which characterises stalking will not stop as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions or social distancing, and the risk of harm to victims remains as significant as ever.

Calls to the National Stalking Helpline since the lockdown indicate that victims are still being stalked despite lockdown, particularly using online methods and social media.

The impact this can have on the victim is huge, particularly in terms of their mental wellbeing. And it infiltrates all aspects of a victim’s life which can be immensely traumatic.

In addition, the lockdown response means that stalkers are now able to almost guarantee where their victim will be for most of the time.

For National Stalking Awareness Week 2020 – 20 – 24 April –  the Suzy Lamplugh Trust is highlighting the urgent need to ensure stalking victims are still visible and supported throughout the response to Covid-19.

One caller to the National Stalking Helpline described feeling like a ‘sitting duck’ in the current circumstances. It is therefore imperative to ensure that victims are empowered to call the police and receive help if they feel at risk in any way.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is calling on the government to ensure that victims of stalking are recognised during these unprecedented times.

Support and protection for victims remains as essential as ever, despite the difficult circumstances for all services affected by the response to Covid-19.

And campaigners  are calling for stalking to be prioritised as the devastating crime it is; now more than ever it is so important that we See Stalking Clearly.

Suky Bhaker, CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “Stalking is a crime of psychological terror that impacts on all aspects of a victim’s life, often in ways that are long-lasting and irreparable.

“During the immensely difficult circumstances that many are experiencing amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, it is essential that victims of stalking are not forgotten and that essential services continue to support them.

“We know from the calls we have received to the National Stalking Helpline in recent weeks that stalking victims need support as much as ever and we want to reiterate our message that we are here to support you.”

For advice about workplace and lone worker safety in the context of Covid-19, click here.

If you are being harassed or stalked through the internet, by email or on social networks, please call the police on 101 or the National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300.

You can also contact: the Network for Surviving Stalking; Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service or Protection Against Stalking

And you can use the Victim and Witness Information website to find support in your local area.

Additional support is available if you are in Scotland.

If you feel threatened, call the police on 999.

Contact the police if you are being stalked – you have a right to feel safe in your home and workplace.

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