Stalking: A private problem for the public’s health
Stalking is a crime. It is not a joke, or a product of strong romantic feelings. At its core, it is similar to domestic abuse and sexual violence because it is about control. Stalkers use persistent, unwanted contact to frighten and distress their victims. Stalking victims suffer as a result. Some live with mental ill health, or alter their lives due to their experience of stalking.
Perhaps surprisingly, stalking victims do not turn to the police right away. In fact, a 2005 University of Leicester study discovered that more than 3 in 4 victims have experienced 100 incidents or more by the time they reported the matter. Moreover, it is typical for incidents to spread over months, or even years before a report is made. Suffering with only the support of a few trusted friends or family members. With no end in sight. Is it any wonder then that there would be harmful effects on one’s life?
How Stalking Hurts
Each incoming text, notification, or phone call might be them. Going to the shop, walking to your car after work, dining out with friends could each mean you “bump” into your stalker. Suddenly, a life that had been open, filled with connections and options becomes smaller, or at least more threatening. Victims often can never go back to a “normal” life, even once stalking has ended.
Psychological effects are common. Anxiety, depression, agoraphobia may develop. Difficulties with memory or attention can occur. Elevated stress can change one’s ability to cope with and engage in social exchanges. This, in turn, may bear on a victim’s job. Doubly so if a stalker’s behaviour becomes disruptive to a business. For as long as the stalking continues, a person’s financial stability, mental health, and physical well-being are at risk. Although physical violence only occurs in roughly one-third of cases, stalking is an alarming indicator of grave danger, for women in particular.
A study at the University of Gloucester examined 358 homicides in the UK from 2012-2014. The homicides chosen all involved a female victim and a male perpetrator. The researchers found that stalking behaviours were identifiable in 94% of cases. This clearly demonstrates the need for greater stalking awareness.
Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Suzy Lamplugh Trust is an organisation dedicated to “reduc[ing] the risk of violence and aggression”. As part of its efforts, the Trust manages the National Stalking Helpline. Founded in 1986 by Paul and Diana Lamplugh after the disappearance of their daughter Suzy, it has focused on personal safety for over 30 years. Suzy Lamplugh Trust was “instrumental” in driving the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, one of the key pieces of legislation relating to stalking.
With others in the National Stalking Consortium, the Trust will be leading National Stalking Awareness Week 2019. The theme this year is “Stalking Steals Lives”, and the campaign runs Monday 8th April-Friday 12th April. The focus of the associated conference is “on the physical and mental impact of stalking and the role of the health sector in this insidious crime.”
What to Do
If you are being stalked, it is important that you seek help. There is too much at risk. In Hampshire, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight we may be able to assist you directly.
Our You First Dorset Stalking Advocate can be reached at 0800 032 5204. In Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight, Aurora New Dawn’s Stalking Service is available to you on 02392 479254.
If you are elsewhere, the National Stalking Helpline is available during the week on 0808 802 0300.
Should the situation require it, contact the police, and in an emergency you must dial 999.
Unique Dorset Refuge Celebrates 1st Anniversary
Delighted, the YOU Trust celebrates the 1st Anniversary of our independent, unique Dorset refuge. You First, YOU’s Hidden Violence and Abuse Services, operates the refuge in partnership with Sovereign Housing. We thank Sovereign for their continued support for this innovative project. Together, we provide a safe space for those unable to access a traditional refuge.
In contrast to norms, the project supports and provides refuge to men. It also accepts women with teenage boys (over the age of 15), LGBTQ+ couples, and couples fleeing Honour-Based Violence. Further, we provide bespoke domestic abuse support to the community in our group room and drop-in space.
First Year Impact of Our Dorset Refuge
The refuge received more than 30 referrals for accommodation in its first year. Consequently, we supported couples fleeing Honour-Based Violence, women with older male children, and fathers with children. Significantly, this service has provided safe housing for men escaping domestic abuse. This included people in same sex relationships and those identifying as LGBTQ+.
YOU provides individual, innovative services, bespoke to each person. We can support many more people fleeing domestic violence and abuse through our independent Dorset refuge. Amazing partnership work in Dorset has made this remarkable achievement possible. It is also down to the brilliant support we have from so many people and groups in the community.
Tonia Redvers, Head of Hidden Violence and Abuse Services at YOU, said “I am thrilled that working in partnership with Sovereign for many years has resulted in being able to offer safe spaces and individual support to everyone in our communities. We have long advocated for safe accommodation for people unable to access traditional refuges. Sovereign’s belief in our vision has made this a reality. Further, the Dorset team’s work with national partners such as Karma Nirvana has been very positive.”
Katie Bielec, Service Manager for You First Dorset said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for those who are experiencing domestic abuse and need to leave their homes. We have been incredibly lucky to have such support from our partner agencies and the community to run this refuge. We are proud of the work we have achieved. Without this provision, our clients may have had to stay in an abusive home facing escalating risk.”
Reflecting on the difference that the service has made, residents jointly stated: “Everyone matters. You’re not alone. Everyone feels as if they are valued, regardless of who you are. It gave us hope.”
The Power of Partnership Working and Community Support
Helen Hann, Sovereign Housing Divisional Director, commented on the project. “We’re delighted that the YOU Trust is providing such a valuable service in North Dorset and that so many families and individuals have been supported with safe and secure accommodation, regardless of sex or gender, thanks to this initiative.
“This site emphasises Sovereign’s commitment to working with valued partners in the provision of housing for people with specific support needs. We’ll continue to work closely with the YOU Trust and other providers in the future.”
We welcomed Councillor Roger Carter, Town Mayor for Blandford, to the service. Following his visit, he said: “Many people are aware of refuges for women – sometimes with children – who have suffered intolerable abuse and need safe places to recuperate and, with targeted help, rebuild their lives.
“What is less well known is that there are many vulnerable men who have also suffered similar abuse and require the same safe places and the same help. We are fortunate in Blandford, long known for its friendliness and hospitality, to have such a refuge run by the YOU Trust that does just this.
“It was a great pleasure for me to help them celebrate being open for a year and to witness first-hand the wonderful work they do rebuilding lives. I wish the refuge continued success, perhaps with proper government recognition, in the years to come.”
Reaching You First
Over the last 4 years across Dorset, You First has supported more than 4,000 women, men and children. We’ve done this whilst also providing guidance and support to family and friends. Whereas traditional refuges might exclude you, our Dorset refuge might offer a solution, depending upon your circumstance.
You First’s dedicated team will help anyone experiencing domestic violence and abuse in Dorset. Anyone wanting advice and support can call the 24-hour free phone number, 0800 032 5204. If you know or suspect someone lives with domestic abuse, You First can give you advice on how to support that person.
In an emergency, call 999.
Addressing Isle of Wight Domestic Abuse
As the new provider for Isle of Wight Domestic Abuse and Sexual Crime services, You First faces real challenges. For example, the number of sexual offences recorded on the Island was four times higher in 2018 than 2003. Over the same period, stalking and harassment offences grew by more than 14 times. Together, police recorded 1,366 such offences for the year ending September 2018. Often, these occur within a relationship. Clearly, there is a great need to face these issues head on.
Isle of Wight Domestic Abuse – It’s Not OK
Sadly, the number of people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence is much larger, due to chronic under-reporting. Many groups and campaigns have pressed these issues to the public. As a result, the subject has become less taboo. Notably, the Isle of Wight Community Safety Partnership is supporting events for one such campaign this week.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week seeks to give victims a voice and to highlight that It’s Not OK. It’s Not OK for people to commit these crimes; It’s Not OK that people affected by sexual abuse in a relationship feel unable to access help; and, It’s Not OK for any of us to stand by and allow this to continue.
Individuals, organisations, and voluntary agencies are using the hashtag #ItsNotOK on social media. Through this, they are sharing their stories, information, and details of related events. If you would find it helpful, please explore these posts.
Developing Our Isle of Wight Domestic Abuse Services
While we are professionals, we passionately believe that stopping sexual violence is everyone’s business. A new definition of domestic abuse in the Government’s draft domestic abuse bill and community-based approaches offer hope. The YOU Trust has secured grant funding to bring two proven programmes to the Island.
Firstly, the funding will help us to reach people affected by sexual violence in isolated communities. The Dragonfly Project, which we have run in Dorset, works to weave a network of support within the fabric of a community. To this end, people and businesses receive training to become befrienders, or champions. In that role, they listen and offer support, providing victims with the information they need to move forward.
The second of these new additions is the growth of Hampshire’s Making Safe Scheme. Under the scheme, where risk-appropriate, security measures are added to one’s home. As a result, those who might otherwise have to flee due to risk of domestic violence can instead remain in their home. This offers cost-savings for agencies and local authorities. But, most importantly, it lessens the disruption of the lives of the people and children affected by domestic abuse, whilst keeping them safe.
Where to Turn
If you think you might be or suspect someone else might be experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence, we can help. Whether you just have questions, or you need support, our team will be glad to assist.
Call 0800 234 6266, or e-mail youfirstIOW@theyoutrust.org.uk.
Finally, if it is an emergency, dial 999 immediately.
£1.3m Grant As Government Reveals Domestic Abuse Bill
Government Releases Landmark Draft Domestic Abuse Bill
Domestic abuse is a traumatic crime that often occurs where safety should be taken for granted. For example, in one’s home or in a once loving relationship. It makes home a place of danger, not safety – even without physical harm. The government’s recently published draft Domestic Abuse Bill recognises these hidden threats. For the first time, the statutory definition of domestic abuse would include coercive control, manipulation, and economic forms of non-physical abuse.
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said: “The draft Domestic Abuse bill recognises the complex nature of these horrific crimes and puts the needs of victims and their families at the forefront.”
This is an important step because it would bring the law closer to the reality people live with. Likewise, it will help agencies to better protect people affected by domestic violence.
£1.3m MHCLG Grant for Domestic Abuse
The YOU Trust has helped to secure £1,297,125 to support those experiencing domestic abuse in Hampshire, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight. YOU were part of an innovative project bid led by Hart District Council.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government sought bids that would keep domestic abuse victims safe in their own homes. They also focused on early interventions and preventive measures because this is key to achieving lasting change. The grant will continue and grow the successful Making Safe Scheme, launched in 2015.
Under the scheme, YOU Trust outreach workers add security measures into homes where someone is at risk. Firstly, the MHCLG grant funds an 18-month extension of the scheme. Secondly, it brings the effective practice to Dorset and the Isle of Wight. Finally, it allows new initiatives to be tried.
YOU’s Dorset-based Isolated Communities Engagement Project (Dragonfly Project) will expand to West Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The project builds support into the community, empowering victims and enabling earlier intervention. A bespoke Health team will work across hospital and GP surgeries, and out in the community. We hope that victims will come forward, confident in finding the support they need due to the new definition laid out in the draft Domestic Abuse Bill.
Additional bed spaces will be available in refuges within all three counties for those who need to flee. Further, YOU has opened an independent refuge for single men, men with children and couples escaping domestic abuse. Another benefit of the funding is that it pays for 22 additional health workers, domestic abuse specialists, and refuge workers.
Why Funding Matters
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: “Domestic abuse is a devastating crime, which shatters the lives of survivors and their families. It is our duty to ensure survivors can seek help by providing the support they need to restart their lives.
Through providing specialist accommodation and access to employment, this fund will make sure local authorities and charities can provide a strong safety net for anyone facing the threat of abuse in their own home.”
Tonia Redvers, Head of Hidden Violence and Counselling Services at YOU said, “We are thrilled that our work continues to receive national recognition whilst we work so well with our local partners. With local funding reducing and the threat of diminished refuge bed spaces, this funding is vital to ensure there is a place for anyone who needs help and support or is escaping violence and abuse.”
If domestic abuse affects you, access free, confidential support by calling:
Hampshire 0800 916 9878
Dorset 0800 032 5204
Isle of Wight 0800 234 6266
In an emergency, please dial 999.
Take a stand against Domestic Abuse
The YOU Trust is joining with other fantastic organisations around the world this year to support of the 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence and Abuse and White Ribbon campaigns to end male violence against women once and for all. We have launched the “Take a stand against Domestic Abuse” campaign to raise some much-needed awareness on the issue starting with this introduction to what Domestic Abuse is.
What is Domestic Abuse
The UK government defines domestic violence and abuse as an act or series of acts which may be violent, abusive, coercive and threatening behaviour or controlling often between individuals 16 or over, that are/ were in a relationship, been intimate or between family members.
Types Of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse can take various forms, the most common of which are Physical, Sexual, Financial and Psychological /Emotional.
Physical Abuse: This form of abuse covers a lot of physical acts of violence towards the victim including acts like; punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, pulling hairs, shoving, strangling and, violence against family/pets, use or threat of use of weapons (knives, bats, sticks, etc.)
Sexual Abuse: This form of domestic abuse refers to unwanted acts of a sexual nature directed at the victim. This includes acts like, sexual harassment or pressure, rape, persuading others (especially children) to participate in sexual acts and use of sexually degrading language.
Financial: This refers to situations where a person looks to gain from the finances of another over whom they have influence or control over. Financial abuse includes acts such as making the victim take out credit, taking loans in the victim’s name, stealing from them, destroying their property, controlling their access to money, not contributing to joint bills and so on.
Psychological/Emotional: This is where the victim is psychologically controlled by the abuser. The victim may be subjected to controlling and coercive acts that cause them to feel guilty, ignored, isolated, scared, bullied, insignificant, and may be prevented from making decisions about their own lives such as who they see and where they can or can’t go.
Other Types Of Domestic Abuse To Note
Stalking: Stalking is defined as the persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered and harassed, distressed, alarmed, fearful of violence against you (Victim Support). It includes acts like following, watching or spying on a person, forcing contact with them (including contacting them on Social media), regularly sending unwanted gifts and sending threats.
FGM: FGM or Female Genital Mutilation is a term used to describe acts of removing partially or completely, the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. These acts are often referred to as female circumcision or cutting and are commonly practised by people of minority ethnic groups especially those of Middle Eastern, African and Asian origin.
These acts are illegal in the UK and are considered a gross violation of human rights against girls and women because of the suffering that they cause those affected especially during sex and childbirth.
Who Is Affected By Domestic Abuse?
Although women are the most likely to be victims of Domestic Abuse, anyone could be a victim of Domestic Abuse regardless of age, gender, sexuality.
- According to the ONS, “an estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse” in the UK last year – of those, 713,000 were men.
- 228,385 child protection referrals were made as a result of domestic abuse-related incidents in the year ending June 2017.
- 64% of women staying in refuges have children staying with them.
- Among the elderly, although the proportion of domestic abuse cases tends to decline with age among women, the opposite is the case in men.
The YOU Trust’s Role
At The YOU Trust, we are committed to developing and delivering services that reduce harm and increase the safety of all victims and survivors of Domestic Abuse within our community.
We are actively working to achieve this by providing expert advice and support through our community and accommodation based services which ensure our clients have easy access to the emotional support and security they need to move on. These services are listed below.
Please follow the links to contact the relevant team if you need any support
Take a Stand Today
You can take a stand with us today by
- sharing this post on your social media page to raise awareness among your friends
- supporting the work we do to support the victims and survivors of Domestic Abuse. You can do this by Giving Online or directly to our services in Dorset (email@example.com) and Hampshire (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- or you can get some training and equip yourself to better spot cases of Domestic Abuse. Our sister organisation, My Learning Cloud, provides excellent e-learning courses on Domestic Abuse, Safeguarding Children and Young People and Safeguarding Adults that would be perfect starting points for this.
New Soft Play Room for Domestic Abuse Refuge
On the 14 of February, North Dorset Domestic Abuse Refuge will be officially opening a soft play room for the under 5s. The Refuge, run by You First Dorset, part of The YOU Trust charity, has been provided with funds by Friends of North Dorset Refuge project to go ahead. All parties involved are thrilled to be able to provide such a fantastic provision for children whose parents are being supported by You First.
The Chair of Friends of North Dorset Refuge, Sara Jackson, stated: “The Friends of North Dorset Refuge are delighted to see the completion of a project they have been working on for some years – a soft play room for younger children. We have raised the funds for this room which is brightly coloured and full of shaped and sounds, discoveries to be made and fun to be had – what is not to like for a small child?
Older children have their own space in a different part of the building – now the smaller residents have theirs where they can be safe, play with others and always have Mum on hand to help with new challenges: climbing, carrying, building, naming colours and all the time learning without realising that there is a different way of living, free from fear.”
This brilliant addition will compliment the existing activity room – You First have a specialist worker who engages with all children as we know that safe play spaces are vital for all children as we know that safe play spaces are vital for all children to come to terms with their experience of living with domestic abuse.
Katie Bielec, Integrated Service Manager of You First Dorset, said: “This extra safe space for children under 5 will allow them to play, explore and be free. It is an essential part of their journey and we are incredibly grateful to the Friends of North Dorset Refuge and Sovereign who have worked closely with us to ensure this addition to the refuge occurred.”
Women and children at the refuge, and You First staff, want to extend their thanks to the Friend of North Dorset Refuge for the generous donation, and to the Sovereign Housing Association, for working with us to install the soft play equipment.
Christmas was as busy as ever at YOU this (last!) year. We had parties, we had feasts, there were gifts and Father Christmas himself even did the rounds.
Staff working in our domestic abuse and violence refuges went all out to keep the magic of Christmas alive for the children living there. Living in a refuge can be a strange and unnerving experience for young people, and refuge staff work alongside children’s’ parents to make sure they feel safe and as normal as possible. Christmas is a great opportunity to bring some familiarity into their lives, and a good excuse for a few parties! A special thanks to local charity Free Cakes for Kids who provided two fabulous cakes for the Christmas party in Basingstoke.
On the 22nd of December residents at Byways (supported living service for people with learning disabilities) were greeted with an early Christmas present – a new car! Bought with funds raised by fundraising group, Friends of Byways, It will mean greater independence, more social opportunities, and generally provide more ease in being involved in the local community and daily living. Huge thanks to all involved.
We hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year break. Here’s to 2017 and all the good stuff to come!
Councillor visits Domestic Violence and Abuse Services
On October 3 2016 Councillor Terri Reid met with women, children and staff at a refuge in Hampshire which is run by You First, the domestic violence and abuse service of The YOU Trust working across West and North Hampshire.
People in the refuge are fleeing domestic violence and abuse, such as Jo – she has two children under 5 and was placed in the refuge by the police after the last violent incident at home. The police had been called a number of times, but Jo wanted to make her marriage work for the sake of the children. Jo says the violence and control by her husband was getting worse and she was afraid he would kill her and hurt the children, so this time she came to the refuge.
Jo has been at refuge for 6 weeks and was worried when she first came here, what it would be like, what the other women would be like and how the children would settle. Jo says its been great, the other women are a good laugh and its good to have someone to talk to who understands. The children have made new friends and they get lots of help from the children’s workers. Jo feels really safe now and has started to think about her move on and where she may end up. There is so much more to Jo’s story and moving into refuge was a positive step for her.
You First Hampshire support women, men and children who have experienced or who are experiencing domestic violence or abuse in their relationships. This can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. Statistics indicate that 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 3 from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities will experience domestic violence and abuse at some point in their lifetime.
Funded by Hampshire County Council the service provides free and discreet support, advice and refuge to victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse. Last year You First worked with over 2,000 people who had experienced domestic violence and abuse in Hampshire and Councillor Terri Reid visited the refuge to understand the work first-hand through meeting workers and domestic violence and abuse survivors.
Commenting on Councillor Terri Reid’s visit, the Head of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department, Tonia Redvers, stated: “It is brilliant that Terri came to visit the refuge, YOU is always very happy to welcome Councillors to the refuge to meet the people we work with and understand the issues they are facing. Refuge accommodation is vital for some people who are fleeing domestic violence – it offers a place of safety for both adults and children and gives them time to come to terms with what they have experienced. Refuge is more than a roof over their heads, it gives people the space to stop and think about their future and, when ready, we can keep working together when moving on into the community to live a life free of abuse.”
Since visiting the refuge Councillor Terri Reid has added: “The Council is committed to preventing homelessness and supporting vulnerable people and I am delighted to be able to see again at first hand the vital specialist work being undertaken by the YOU Trust to support some of our most vulnerable residents. Domestic Abuse is a significant cause of homelessness; the fact that there is a range of alternative good quality options and support for victims and their families means they can receive a service most suited to their needs.”
If you are think you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse, please contact You First on 0800 916 9878. For emergency assistance, always dial 999 first.
MP Visits Domestic Violence and Abuse Services
On May 20 2016 MP Mims Davies met with women, children and workers at a refuge in Hampshire which is run by You First, the domestic violence and abuse service of The YOU Trust working across West and North Hampshire.
You First Hampshire support women, men and children who have experienced or who are experiencing psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse in their relationships. Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. Statistics indicate that 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 3 from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities will experience domestic violence and abuse at some point in their lifetime.
Funded by Hampshire County Council the service provides free and discreet support, advice and refuge to victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse. Last year You First worked with over 1,200 people who had experienced domestic violence and abuse in the west of Hampshire and over 200 people came to refuge accommodation. You First work in partnership with Home Group who are the landlords of the refuges provided in West Hampshire and supply management support.
MP Mims Davies visited the refuge to understand the work first-hand through meeting workers and domestic violence and abuse survivors.
Commenting on MP Mims Davies visit, the Head of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department, Tonia Redvers, stated: “It is brilliant that Mims came to visit the refuge, its really important that members of government understand the work we do at a local level. Refuge accommodation is vital for some people who are fleeing domestic violence – it offers a place of safety for both adults and children and gives them time to come to terms with what they have experienced. Refuge is more than crisis accommodation, it gives people the space to stop and think about their future and, when ready, we can keep working together when moving on into the community to live a life free of abuse.”
If you are think you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse, please contact You First on 0800 916 9878. For emergency assistance, always dial 999 first.