NATIONAL Stalking Awareness Week is our annual campaign that takes place in April each year, however, due to COVID-19 and the lockdown restrictions, our 2020 campaign was faced with a brand new set of challenges.
One of the highlights of the week is usually our annual conference but this had to be cancelled and the whole campaign moved online. The need to ‘See Stalking Clearly’ (our tagline for the 2020 campaign) became more important than ever.
During the week, we released a series of videos and podcasts, covering different aspects of stalking, from recognising risks to the psychological and emotional impact on the victim. We also released a guidance sheet ‘Stalking & the COVID-19 outbreak’ for victims of stalking.
Stalking is not someone ‘lurking in the shadows’, and generally includes some form of on online digitally-enabled behaviours, and now everyone is on lockdown, some victims fear that their stalker is now more than ever able to identify their physical whereabouts. Stalking doesn’t stop just because we are on lockdown – if someone is fixated and obsessed, the virus is not going to stop them and they will find a way to continue to stalk their victim.
National Stalking Awareness Week brings stalking to the forefront and this year has meant we can deliver our message to more people across the UK. The support we have received from different services, individuals and corporates has been phenomenal and will go some way to ensuring more people are aware of the support we can offer, as well as helping them to recognise what stalking is. This is not something that only happens to celebrities. It is a crime with long term impacts for those victims that have to cope with it. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will be stalked at some point in their life, and over 1.3 million people are stalked each year. This affects so many in so many different ways, and should not ever be dismissed as a trivial thing.
The National Stalking Helpline has, in its 10 years, received over 36,000 contacts via phone and email, offering advice and support to those who need it. Additional advocacy support is available to higher risk cases, including working with the police and CPS on the victim’s behalf.
During this ‘virtual’ National Stalking Awareness Week, we have been able to reach out to a wider audience and share our messages further. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the National Stalking Consortium have worked hard to get the message out about stalking during COVID-19, and this will continue into the future.