What to do if you are being stalked, harassed and abused online

Please note, this fact sheet is for the UK

Stalking and online harassment can be a frightening, isolating and distressing experience.

This brief fact sheet has been prepared in conjunction with Jennifer Perry of Digital Stalking and following advice that we, at EOM, were given by the National Stalking Helpline. You can also consult the Women’s Aid Guide to technology risks for victims here.

We won’t reproduce the advice and guidance available on the above two websites, which are extremely good resources and we suggest that you consult them.  However, we have provided a brief overview below with links to the relevant sections.

The national Stalking Helpline number is 0808 802 0300 (open 09:30 – 16:00 Weekdays, except Wed 13:00 – 16:00).  They are extremely helpful and sympathetic and will advise you of what you can do in your current situation.

What is stalking?

Stalking is defined as: “a constellation of behaviours in which an individual inflicts upon another repeated unwanted intrusions and communications.” (Mullen, 1999)

Source: http://www.digital-stalking.com/what-is-stalking/

There are several different types of stalker http://www.digital-stalking.com/types-of-stalkers/ whose defining characteristics are listed http://www.digital-stalking.com/.

What safeguarding measures can I take?

There are a number of measures that you can take if you are being stalked and harassed online, we recommend that you look at this page from Digital Stalking.

You can also consult the Women’s Aid Guide to technology risks for victims here.

This guide written by Anita Sarkeesian, Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) founder Jaclyn Friedman and reproductive justice activist Renee Bracey Sherman, advises on how to take steps to protect your social media and internet accounts.

What is the legal position?

In England and Wales, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 states that it is against the law for someone to pursue a course of conduct that they know or ought to know, amounts to harassment and the course of conduct counts as 2 or more incidents which cause you to feel alarm or distress or fear of violence. This definition is transferable in Scotland but comes under Section 39 of the Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

For further information, including the legal position in Northern Ireland, please refer here.

Going to the police

This section here advises on taking your complaint to the police: http://www.stalkinghelpline.org/faq/talking-to-the-police/

Please do take time to read these sites as well as seek advice from the National Stalking Helpline. Solidarity with all who experience this form of abuse.

EOM extends our warm thanks to Jennifer Perry for her assistance in this.