Stalking and Harassment

Harassment and stalking are often used as interchangeable terms. However, they relate to similar but different offences that can cause victims, their families and loved ones physical, psychological and emotional harm.

Abusers can stalk or harass their victims in a number of different ways, including:

  • Text, answer phone message, letter or email
  • Making comments or threats in person or online (i.e. via social media)
  • Standing outside someone’s house or driving past it
  • Carrying out an act of violence
  • Damaging someone else’s property
  • Maliciously and falsely reporting someone to the police to purposefully get them in trouble

Harassment is unwanted behaviour from someone else that makes the victim feel distressed, humiliated or threatened. Examples of harassment include:

  • Unwanted phone calls, texts, letters, emails or visits
  • Abuse (face-to-face or online)
  • Physical gestures or facial expressions

Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes the victim feel anxious and harassed. It includes behaviour that happens two or more times, directed at or towards someone by another person, which causes them to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear that violence might be used against them.

Stalking behaviour can include:

  • Making unwanted communication
  • Consistently sending unwanted gifts
  • Damaging property
  • Physical or sexual assault     

Stalking doesn’t always have to be ‘physical’ and can affect victims emotionally as well. Social media and the internet are often used for stalking and harassment, and ‘cyber-stalking’ or online threats can be just as intimidating as face-to-face threats.

According to the ONS Crime Survey in England and Wales there were 472,590 victims of stalking and harassment between April 2019 and March 2020.

If you know someone who is potentially suffering as a victim of stalking or harassment, call 101 or 999 in an emergency.

If you are a victim of DA you can find details of where to go for help and/or support and the different protection notices or schemes which are available to you at the bottom of this page and here.