Jo Coles - York and North Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing, Fire and Crime

Jo Coles - North Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing, Fire and Crime

Stalking & Harassment – Help and advice

What is harassment?
What is stalking?
Where can I get help?

What is harassment?

Someone you know could be harassing you, like a neighbour, or people from your local area or it could be people from your local area, or it could be a stranger.

Harassment may include:

  • Bullying at school or in the workplace
  • Cyber Stalking
  • Antisocial Behaviour
  • Sending abusive messages
  • Sending unwanted gifts
  • Unwanted phone calls, letters, emails, messages, or visits

It is harassment if the unwanted behaviour has happened more than once

What is stalking?

Stalking is like harassment but is more aggressive, the stalker will be obsessed with the person they are targeting.

Stalking is a pattern of repeated, persistent and unwanted behaviour that causes you to feel distressed or scared.

Stalking can happen with or without fear of violence. This means that if you are receiving persistent unwanted contact that is causing you distress, but the person has never threatened you, this is stalking and is not acceptable.

How you may be affected

We’re all different and react to things differently, but feeling scared, worried, isolated or angry are all perfectly normal.

Harassment and stalking are often not reported because the victim feels trapped and alone, or worries that others won’t take them seriously. The truth is, it can happen to anybody – and does happen to many people – and there is always a way out.

Steps you can take

If you think you are being harassed or stalked, you must always remember that you can get support and help from Supporting Victims.

Nothing that has happened to you is your fault.

If you are unsure, go with your instincts. Anything that doesn’t feel right probably isn’t.

You may feel alone and that no-one can help, but just talking to someone here about what you are going through will make you realise that there are people on your side. Supporting Victims will listen and can guide you to specialist organisations who will help you understand your choices.

General advice

  • Write down anything that you think is harassment. Include the other person’s behaviour and how it made you feel.
  • Keep all written messages and ‘gifts’.
  • Save texts and, if you can, keep a screenshot in another place in case your phone is lost or stolen.
  • Record any voicemail messages. Most networks delete these after a set time.
  • Answer any unknown phone calls with a simple ‘hello’, not your name. Never answer any questions about yourself if you don’t know who is calling.
  • Think about getting a home alarm system, if you don’t already have one.
  • If you think you are in danger, call the police immediately on 999.

Online advice

  • Stay secure by changing all passwords regularly. Never share these with anyone.
  • Block the person who is harassing you.
  • Never accept a friend request from anyone you don’t know.
  • Think about your social media posts and who can see them: do you need to share information about where you are or going, holidays, your family or new job?
  • Change your account privacy settings to ‘friends only’ or ‘only me’. This will control who can see your information.
  • If you go on social media from your mobile, use a PIN or security code to stop anyone else getting to your accounts.
  • Turn off GPS location settings and don’t ‘check in’ to places on Facebook.

Supporting Victims to help cope, and recovery