24 November 2015

Stalking survivors’ stories will be shared at awareness event

Survivors of stalking will be sharing their experiences at an awareness raising event tomorrow (25 November)

called Talking Stalking that will bring together professionals and survivors to challenge the devastating impact of stalking and find ways to improve the help and support available.

 

The event, to be held on Wednesday, November 25, will commemorate the third anniversary of the Stalking Law Reform when stalking became a specific criminal offence.  It will also mark the launch of an anthology of creative writing produced by survivors and professionals.

 

As part of the 16 Days of Action Campaign, Talking Stalking has been organised by support and advice organisation Veritas Justice CIC, support group Writing for Recovery and the University of Brighton with support from The High Sheriff of East Sussex, Brighton & Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council.

 

As well as people affected by stalking sharing their experiences and reading from the anthology, speakers at the event will include author Peter James and Juliet Smith, the High Sheriff of East Sussex.

 

Councillor Emma Daniel, Lead Councillor for Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equalities, said: “Stalking has a terrible impact on peoples’ lives so it’s vital that we all co-operate to tackle it.

“This important event will bring together survivors and professionals, those who have had their lives affected by stalking and those who work to combat stalking and provide help and support. It is essential that we work together to prevent stalking, redoubling our efforts, and aiming to stop it in each and every case that we can.”

 

The Talking Stalking event also coincides with the UN International Day for the elimination of violence against women and marks the start of an annual international 16 Days of Action Campaign to end violence against women and girls.

 

Brighton & Hove City Council Leader Cllr Warren Morgan said: “Domestic and sexual violence, as well as other forms of Violence against Women and Girls, blights the lives of victims, and the lives of those around them. That’s why we’re asking everyone to support the 16 Days of Action and the White Ribbon Campaign to end violence against women.”

 

From Wednesday, November 25 to Thursday, December 10 - Human Rights Day - a range of local events will take place to raise awareness in the community, making sure people know where to go for help and support and sharing stories about people’s experiences, recovery and work.

 

The 16 days also includes the ‘Learning Together to Safeguard the City’ fortnight. It is the first time that we have brought together work around Safeguarding Children, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults, and the wider campaign around the 16 Days of Action against Domestic and Sexual Violence alongside other forms of Violence against Women and Girls. The aim is to reveal and debate some of the most important issues in our city which affect individuals, their families and the wider community, as well as exploring the responsibilities of professionals in their everyday work and their contribution in keeping people safe and well.

 

White Ribbon and 16 days of action events will be held throughout the county and details for these can be found on the Safe in the City Partnership website here

 

Sam’s story:

I lived with my stalker for four and a half years and who was also the father of my children. I discovered when they were both very young that he was on the sex offenders register for raping, gagging and tying up a 14-year-old girl for which he had served a five year sentence and was subsequently placed on the sex offenders register for life.

I was not afraid of him during at his time however this information led to the breakdown of our relationship. When I asked him to leave the family home he would not go and subsequently attacked me with a knife and tried to break my neck.  I was stalked by him for the next four years during which time he spent four short custodial sentences in prison for breaches of his restraining order.

Whilst the history of this case is extremely shocking the most horrific thing to discover was the lack of protection for my family and me and the most devastating of these experiences was during the family court process, where he was assessed as a psychopathic paranoid narcissist. 

But during this time he was provided with another platform with which to continue his stalking behaviour with the excuse of child contact.

This situation did not only affect me but also my family, my friends my neighbours and my work colleagues. 

I have also been shocked by the lack of awareness by professionals supposedly supporting me throughout my case.

I am fortunate enough to have had lots of support from my family friends and work place and have been able to articulate the needs I have required. I am however acutely aware of those who are not in such a privileged position and the significant danger their lives are put in.

In 2011 I gave evidence as part of the stalking law reform campaign. I was horrified to discover that I was the only domestic violence stalking victim to give evidence. All other evidence was given by parents of murdered daughters.