There is a growing problem across the world. It is one that can cause serious harm to both victims and society as a whole, and with the advancement of internet and mobile phone technology providing new and easier ways for stalkers to locate and track their victims; it is inevitable that it will continue to increase. The phenomenon is called STALKING. If you know anyone impacted by this you will know how all-consuming the effects are and how damaging they can be for victims and their broader family circles. In the run up to National Stalking Awareness Day (18th April 2013), I ask you to take a few moments to consider the increasing threat to individuals and society caused by Stalking.
I would like to make it clear that I am by no means an expert on this subject and still at the beginning of my research. My aim is to get a discussion going and to encourage people to speak up about their experiences, bringing the topic under the spotlight and stimulating a debate. In this way I hope to improve my understanding and that of others.
As I have documented on this blog in the past I think many women, despite huge advances in gender equality within the last half century, continue to adopt the position of “The Other” in their consciousness. Women have made considerable advances in today’s world yet still occupy a mindset which is a bi-product of hundreds and hundreds of years of conditioning and which is not easily transformed. This is in part because in our history we have played a supporting role to men in the context of a patriarchy. It is only in relatively recent years that we are beginning to have a public sense of self and are overtly developing our consciousness outside of our “family-centric” role. Does this mean that women are more vulnerable at being prayed upon by men, who see them as helpless and perceive them as victims? Having discussed this with several stalking victims, they stress that it has often been their strength (as perceived by their Stalker) and not their weakness that has attracted the Stalker in the first place. It is by no means a clear-cut case of the strong praying upon the weak. It is my opinion that all these issues need to be raised and aired in a forum for women. In this way women will be more able connect up to each other and link arms in sisterhood. I also want to try to better understand some of the shadowy areas innate to the current cultural patriarchy. I wish to inspire women to take steps on the perilous yet life-affirming journey into self-authorship of their lives. A journey out of victim status into agency.
I have noticed one thing victims of stalking have in common is that they find it almost impossible to speak out about their situation and what is happening to them. It is as though they are consumed with guilt and shame: they feel as though they have brought this upon themselves and they feel ashamed about what has happened to them. In this way they become trapped in an insidious cycle. Victims tell us they feel isolated, frightened and lonely. Victims can create networks for themselves, thus feeling part of a web of support. They should be encouraged to speak out, to go to the police, to speak to their local MP and to surround themselves with people who will help to protect them.
As a society we seem content to let the issue of Stalking fester away in the shadows. We seem happier to sweep it under the carpet and ignore the nightmares faced by victims of Stalking because unlike as is the case for victims of domestic physical abuse Stalking is an area that deals in shades of grey. You cannot see the scars left with the victim. As a result of this it is too easy to underestimate its seriousness and the devastating hold it can take on an individual’s life and by extension on society.
It has long been recognised that current legislation is not satisfactory and offers next to no protection to victims. Politicians are beginning to realise that something has to change. On November 26th 2012 England and Wales enacted their new anti-stalking legislation heralding a zero approach to Stalking across the UK. The parliamentary inquiry heard that some 120,000 victims, mostly women, are stalked each year but only 53,000 incidents are recorded as crimes by police and only one in 50 of these reports leads to an offender being jailed.
The key to protecting victims and alleviating the fear and harm is through everyone taking the issue seriously, through extensive awareness-raising and through improved and effective response to stalking by police officers, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and the health service.
It is my intention to raise the profile of this phenomenon for the sake of a strong and beautiful woman I know, Amanda Regina Clark. Her life and spirit has been ravaged by this and she no longer feels empowered to help herself. At a time when she is scared and vulnerable she is refused help and protection by the Law and misunderstood by many of those around her.
Hints from victims of Stalking
Sometimes people are ashamed when this happens to them – I would say that it is good to talk to people and share the experience – otherwise it becomes a conversation in your head between you and them – and this will send you mad.
Surround yourself with a strong support network of several individuals. If it appears to your Stalker that you are alone and without friends, you will be more easily targeted.
Take up self defence or a martial art. If you feel strong in your body, you will feel an increased sense of empowerment that will help enormously with building a strong sense of self (of paramount importance as a woman).
“You are not alone. There are many people suffering in silence. Trust your intuitions.”
A powerful quote by stalking victim and campaigner Ann Moulds who ran a passionate and brave campaign in Scotland and managed to ensure that stalking became recognised as a criminal offence in Scotland in 2010.
Please get in touch with any comments/ links/ stories and let’s get a discussion going.