“I lived in fear every day of him hurting me, I was terrified. The stress and anxiety it caused me was something that took a long time to fade,” - a victim of stalking has spoken out about her experiences in order to raise awareness of what can be a ‘living nightmare’.
The survivor, from Lincolnshire, has spoken out for the beginning of National Stalking Awareness Week which is this year focussing on ‘Reporting Stalking’ and the fears, embarrassments or feelings that it will not be taken seriously which mean that people do not report harassment or stalking to police.
Lauren, whose name has been changed for her protection, was subjected to a constant barrage of texts, calls and messages.
She felt constantly followed and watched.
Her stalker threatened her life and threatened to harm her family.
She lost her job and someone she was close to as a direct consequence of his actions.
She cried herself to sleep then experienced such intense nightmares she kept herself awake.
Eventually Lauren received the help she needed but not before a long period of time where she felt ignored, helpless and alone.
Lauren is now working with Lincolnshire Police to share her experience and to make sure that the response for the next person reporting stalking is right first time, and every time.
According to statistics released by the force one in five women and one in 10 men will experience stalking in their adult life
Victims do not tend to report to the police until the 100th incident.
Police say that one in two domestic stalkers, if they make a threat, will act on it and one in 10 stalkers, who had no prior relationship, if they make a threat will act on it
Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West said, “Stalking can be an isolating experience breeding fear in the victim of repercussions should they seek help. A perpetrator may lower the self-esteem and confidence of their victim – leaving them questioning if there is any escape.
“If you are being stalked or harassed please take that brave step and come forward. We know that on average a victim will not report to us until the 100th incident. We need to change this so we can stop the escalation in behaviour that is a trademark of stalking. We want that opportunity to deal effectively with perpetrators at the first opportunity.
“Getting this right, first time and every time, is crucial. We are very grateful to Lauren for sharing her experience and allowing us to learn from it, and for giving others confidence to come forward.”
During the course of National Stalking Awareness Week Lincolnshire Police will be sharing their officer training session, raising awareness of the support available and highlighting the signs of stalking.
For those that need help always call 999 in an emergency.
Call 101 if it is not urgent but you would like to seek advice from the police
The National Stalking Helpline provides advice and guidance to current or previous victims of stalking or harassment. The helpline can be contacted on 0808 802 0300.
Paladin support high risk victims of stalking with their specialist Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworkers (ISAC) and ensure that a coordinated community response is developed locally to protect victims.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust also provides practical personal safety advice.
Here follows Lauren’s story:
When I met him, little did I know that although he seemed to be the nicest man I had ever met, it would turn out to be the worst mistake of my life.
As friends, we spent nearly every day together, getting on really well but then he changed my life for the worst.
When he called me one day he heard another man in the background and became really angry shouting at me down the phone. I told him that I would not put up with it, we were not a couple and it was nothing to do with him who I was with.
From that moment I spent my time terrified of what was going to happen to me. I had nothing and no one and no matter what I did he knew about it and was there watching me.
It began with nasty abusive texts and calls constantly all day, every day.
Abusive messages followed by ones telling me that he was sorry. Phone calls telling me that I’m a slag and then that he didn’t mean it.
The texts got worse. He threatened my life and the lives of my friends and family.
He harassed people close to me for information. At this point someone I cared about decided that she couldn’t put up with it and I don’t blame her. She had other problems and didn’t need this as well, so she stopped speaking to me, hoping he would then leave her alone.
He would turn up at my work and stand outside just watching me and smiling at me. Even the thought of his smile makes my skin crawl to this day. It’s the kind of smile that says “I’m enjoying the pain I’m causing you and I can see how much I’m ruining your life”.
I decided that I would go to the Police. I made a statement and showed them the calls and texts I’d been receiving. I was told they would look into it. No evidence was taken from me and no support was offered.
From this day I spent nearly every day on the phone to the Police. He got worse, the texts got worse. I kept a log of everything. I also installed a phone call recorder on my phone.
One time when I was out with my family I had texts asking who I was with, making comments about them and saying I should look behind me. As much as I didn’t want to turn round I had to. He was stood there just watching me. He then rang me and told me that he set a trap to harm me. The thoughts that went through my head at this time were “why?”, “what have I done?”, “am I such an awful person he would want me dead?”
The stalking and harassment continued every day. I lost a job that I loved due to him turning up and constantly ringing the work phone, till it had to be unplugged. He spent his time walking round my office building, just watching me and smiling at me. Apart from the absolute fear inside me, I was embarrassed. Customers, staff, what must they all think of me?
One day he told me that a bottle of liquid he was holding was acid, and that he was going to throw it in my face. I called the Police on 999, terrified that he was going to harm me. I was told this was not an emergency, to hang up and call on 101.
I felt alone and like I had nothing to live for. I couldn’t go on living like this. My family were worrying every day about me. I was so upset that there was no help I began to feel depressed thinking that it would never get any better.
When I left my home to live somewhere else in the hope of escape, he rang and told me he knew exactly where I was and told me the address I was staying at. I rang the Police nearly every day for help as I couldn’t cope with it.
One day he turned up at work where he followed me down the road shouting abuse at me. I rang my Dad to come and get me. Being hysterical I was sick in the car park. I didn’t know what to do. I really couldn’t take it anymore. I spent hours and hours crying myself to sleep at nights and shut in my room. When I finally got to sleep at night, the nightmares were so intense that I wouldn’t let myself go back to sleep. In the end the Police had a panic alarm fitted in my house and one to carry round with me.
He had always told me that he would make sure I never had another man in my life for as long as he lived. When I started seeing someone he would find a way to contact them and put a stop to it.
Still to this day I sit and think about how when he is released, it will all start again. How he will never let me be.
He made me doubt everything I knew and everything I was.
He covered social media with pictures of me, telling lies about me, saying that I’m a slag no man should go near me. It was sent for all my friends to see.
He was finally given a restraining order which he broke. He began ringing me leaving me voice mails saying he was dangerous, then another of heavy breathing. The final voicemail was him saying he would kill me.
Then he would call to tell me he was going to kill himself. This made me feel guilty even after everything he had put me through I couldn’t go to sleep thinking that if he had killed himself it would be my fault for not doing anything about it. When I think of this situation now it’s just another thing that I feel was his way to try and get to me, to make me feel so guilty that I’d talk to him.
The messages continued, the threats, the name calling, lowering my self-esteem, making me feel scared to leave the house, but scared to stay. Every time I blocked his number he would get a new one.
When I saw him across the road from my work, the Police were called and he was arrested. He sent flowers and apologies and said that he loved me. This made me feel guilty but I knew I couldn’t take being scared any more.
If he hadn’t been arrested then I don’t know how this would have turned out.
I lived in fear every day of him hurting me physically, I was terrified.
The stress and anxiety it caused me was something that took a long time to slowly fade away. There were times I questioned why I was still living as it all felt too much. The times I had to tell myself that it will stop just to try and stop the tears, the shaking and feeling ill and drained from no sleep.
Even after him being arrested there was still the fear of seeing him in Court. Just the thought of seeing him stood there smiling at me was enough to terrify my. Something so simple as a smile brings back so many unwanted memories.
Finally came the day I stood up in court. I barely got through the first two lines of the oath before I broke down as at that point I knew today would be the day I find out if anyone understood how he has made me feel and how he has impacted my life.
After giving my evidence it felt like a weight had been lifted. The fear was still there but not as intense. It was like someone was finally trying to help me. I had the support of a Police Officer who also stood up and gave evidence for me.
Even to this day, years on, the thought of his smile takes me right back. There were no physical scars but the mental scars will be there for a life time. This is something I will never forget, I will just have to deal with.