Updated: Apr 21, 2022
Nearly one in four women living in Scotland has been a victim of stalking behaviour according to the biggest-ever survey specifically focusing on the issue.
Stalking victim support charity Action Against Stalking (AAS) spoke to nearly 2000 people to understand the extent of the problem in Scotland, through funding from the Scottish Government.
Results found that 23 per cent of women surveyed reported being targeted with fixated, obsessive, unwanted, repeated behaviour at some point in their lives with only 24 per cent of these victims reporting this behaviour to the police. This compares with one in seven men reporting being stalked.
‘We had anecdotal evidence from our help line that stalking is a far bigger problem than people realise, but these results provide hard evidence that this type of unwanted and criminal behaviour is happening on a massive scale,’ said AAS chief executive,’ Ann Moulds.
‘Regardless of gender, stalking is a devastating crime that can have a huge impact on the mental, physical and financial health of victims. It’s vital that the public, employers and institutions understand just how damaging stalking is, and how insidious perpetrators can be. Greater understanding will help make sure victims are believed, supported and directed to expert help like that offered by Action Against Stalking.’
AAS provides a range of support services to help victims regain control of their lives, funded by the Scottish Government with additional support from the Robertson Trust. On 30 March 2022, the Scottish Government announced the charity is being awarded funding worth £495,000 over three years from its Victim Centred Approach Fund, to deliver services to victims and survivors of stalking.
AAS also offers training for professionals to better understand and support those affected. During March, the charity is running a national advertising campaign on social media to increase the public’s understanding of stalking and to identify that help is available.
Other findings the survey revealed included 33 per cent of respondents who reported stalking behaviour to the police said it failed to stop them being targeted. Sixty eight per cent affected said that being stalked had a moderate to huge impact on their mental health.
Some of the comments from victims the survey documented ranged from ‘I now suffer anxiety around unfamiliar men’ and ‘I haven’t socialised since 2008, I keep to myself’ to ‘I don’t trust myself to make new friends’ and ‘I really don't have a life anymore’.
‘The growth in social media and new technology has undoubtedly fuelled the problem in recent years giving stalkers additional tools to pursue their unwanted behaviours,’ added Ann Moulds.
Minister for Community Safety Ash Regan said: “Stalking has a devastating effect on victims. We are supporting Action Against Stalking with £495,000 from the new Victim Centred Approach Fund to support its work. This will enable the delivery of expert support to stalking victims and allow it to extend its efforts to improve both the understanding of, and response to, stalking behaviours.
“The Scottish Government has long recognised the hugely damaging impact stalking has on its victims. In 2010, we became one of the first countries in the world to recognise stalking as a crime in its own right in law and our work to tackle this insidious behaviour will continue.”
Anyone who has been a victim of stalking can get confidential support from Action Against Stalking by calling 0800 820 2427 and a member of the team will be in touch.
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