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Stalking and harassment

What is stalking and harassment?

Stalking and harassment is when someone repeatedly behaves in a way that makes you feel scared, distressed or threatened.

There are different types of stalking and harassment and anyone can be a victim. Stalking and harassment are offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

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

  • bullying at school or in the workplace

  • cyber stalking (using the internet to harass someone)

  • antisocial behaviour

  • sending abusive text messages

  • sending unwanted gifts

  • unwanted phone calls, letters, emails or visits

It's harassment if the unwanted behaviour has happened more than once.

Sexual harassment Sexual harassment is unlawful, as a form of discrimination, under the Equality Act 2010. The Act says it’s sexual harassment if the unwanted behaviour:

  • violates your dignity

  • creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment (this includes the digital environment, online)

Some examples of sexual harassment would include:

  • sexual comments, jokes or gestures

  • staring or leering at your body

  • using names like ’slut’ or ‘whore’

  • unwanted sexual communications, like emails, texts, DMs

  • sharing sexual photos or videos

  • groping and touching

  • someone exposing themselves

  • pressuring you to do sexual things or offering you something in exchange for sex

If you’ve experienced any of these it’s not your fault and you don’t have to put up with it. If you don’t feel ready to contact us, you can report anonymously to Crimestoppers.

Stalking Stalking is like harassment, but it's more aggressive. The stalker will have an obsession with the person they're targeting. Someone you know could be stalking you; an ex partner or a person you were friends with, or it might be a stranger. If it's someone you know, or knew, it doesn't mean that it's your fault; it's still stalking and it's an offence.

Stalking may include:

  • regularly following someone

  • repeatedly going uninvited to their home

  • checking someone’s internet use, email or other electronic communication

  • hanging around somewhere they know the person often visits

  • interfering with their property

  • watching or spying on someone

  • identity theft (signing-up to services, buying things in someone's name)

It's stalking if the unwanted behaviour has happened more than once. The four warning signs of stalking If the behaviour you're experiencing is:

Fixated Obsessive Unwanted Repeated

You can report the crime or you can contact the National Stalking Helpline for more advice.

Online stalking and harassment Social networking sites, chat rooms, gaming sites and other forums are often used to stalk and harass someone, for example:

  • to get personal information

  • to communicate (calls, texts, emails, social media, creating fake accounts)

  • damaging the reputation

  • spamming and sending viruses

  • tricking other internet users into harassing or threatening

  • identity theft

  • threats to share private information, photographs, copies of messages

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