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Stalking awareness day

April 18 is National Stalking Awareness Day, and a woman who was harassed by her ex-partner has spoken of her ordeal to encourage other stalking victims to come forward and seek help. Sarah has told her story to highlight the fact that people are more likely to become a victim of stalking than any other kind of domestic violence.

 

The charities which run the National Stalking Helpline – Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Protection Against Stalking and Network for Surviving Stalking, alongside the National Cyberstalking Research Centre – have shown that one in five women and one in ten men will be stalked at some point in their lives.

Sarah, who is from the High Peak, has worked with Derbyshire police to produce this video of her story. She got into a relationship with a man but when he became overbearing, she decided to move out.

She said: “He became more and more controlling. If I went out, I would get phone call after phone call to see who I was talking to, what I was talking about, how long I was going to be. It just became intense. He tried to strangle me and after that, I decided I couldn’t cope any more and that I was going to get out.”

Once Sarah had left her partner, he started following her and taking pictures of her. She reported him to the police and sought help from Women’s Aid.

She added: “I felt safe in my house so I didn’t want to go out. I felt secure there. You talk yourself into thinking you’re stupid, you’re looking for things, you’re being paranoid. Why would he sit at the corner of the road in the hope that I would walk past?”

Sarah’s former partner was given a harassment warning and then a Restraining Order at court. She is now moving on with her life and has urged anyone who finds themselves being stalked to seek help.

She said: “It’s been two years and it’s still a fight but it definitely gets easier. I feel more back-on-track.

“My advice would be to have a look for your nearest Women’s Aid and call the police. If nothing else, going through this has taught me that you’re not on your own. People do listen and they do care. It’s not worth putting your life on hold for someone, you have to go forward.”

Detective Inspector Hayley Barnett from the force’s Public Protection department said: “Sarah has been very brave in coming forward to tell her story.

“I hope she gives courage to others in a similar situation so that they can find the strength to seek help.

“Stalking takes many forms. It could be that someone turns up unexpectedly at home or work, sends you unwanted gifts, text messages, emails or contacts you on social network sites.

“Stalking is unacceptable in any form and you don’t have to suffer in silence.”

 

For more information on how to prevent stalking – click here.


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