I have lived in Sussex my whole life. I live with my parents and have a great group of friends around me. I went to school with most of them and I used to feel generally safe when out and about. However, my life was changed early last year when I first encountered a random guy when I was coming home from work on the bus.
He approached me and said that he wanted to be friends as “we live in the same area”. I made small talk at first to be polite, thinking that perhaps he was new to the area. However, I avoided his questions as I did not want to give him any personal information. I thought nothing more of it at the time, but I kept seeing him more regularly, getting on and off the bus at different stops. I could feel he was looking at me, but I tried to avoid his gaze. A few weeks later he sat behind me and got off the bus at the same stop as me. I didn’t think anything of it, so I carried on my walk home as usual after a long shift. However, he approached me and started asking questions again. I felt very uncomfortable as he was asking where I lived and worked. I thought he was quite odd, so I didn’t answer or engage in any conversation and carried on with my walk home, which went on for about 15 minutes. Despite my obvious discomfort, he said he would find out where I worked and lived, which I found extremely frightening.
I started noticing him more and more. On the bus he would get on a few stops after my stop on my way to work and he’d be there on my way home too. At this point he started to follow me; I think he was determined to find out where I worked and lived as he had already mentioned, so I started changing my route and going into shops after getting off the bus to hide from him. I knew something wasn’t right, so I told my friends so they could walk me to and from the bus. We felt on high alert but weren’t quite sure what to do.
A few weeks later, he turned up at my work. I felt terrified when I saw him and thought ‘how has he found out?’ How many times hadn’t I noticed him following me? I knew this wasn’t a coincidence, but I had to serve him. He started to attend my work regularly, so I mentioned it to my boss. Eventually, he came into my work so much they decided to ban him from coming in, which did make me feel better as my work were being really supportive. They suggested I reported him to the police, but of course we did not know who he was or what he wanted, and I felt it was just a matter of time before he worked out where I lived.
This situation was affecting my life so much. I wanted to change everything around me to prevent seeing him, so I changed the bus stop I use for one which is much further away. I only go out with friends if I can arrange a lift or someone to come with me and I feel anxious at work in case he is waiting for me at the end of the shift. I even changed my appearance in the hope that he can’t recognise me. Whenever I walk, I am constantly looking over my shoulder and I try to video my walk home in case he shows up.
My friends and family were also getting anxious for my safety and wellbeing. My friends and I managed to get some pictures of him, and I even made a video of him following me and one of him staring through the windows at my work. I knew I had to seek some help, but I was apprehensive to report this to the police. However, I felt I didn’t have a choice as he wasn’t going to leave me alone.
I reported him to the police and gave them the videos and pictures we had, and the police arrested him for stalking. I had a lot of mixed feelings because whilst I felt validated in my fears, I had never dealt with police or knew what to expect of the process. The officer in charge of my case offered me a referral to Veritas and told me they could help me with safety advice and information in addition to him keeping me updated. I am glad that he referred me to Veritas because my caseworker has been really helpful, particularly explaining to me what will happen in court and offering to come with me which is the biggest relief.
The police officer took me seriously and I can tell that he works closely with my caseworker, which makes understanding the process so much easier. I have had a lot of questions and reservations about the case, but they have been happy to explain and address those. The case was sent to the CPS and a charge of stalking was agreed, and I am now waiting to go to court for a trial, which plays on my mind although I know I will have support there and after, if a restraining order is granted. Obviously, I hope he is found guilty but beyond that I hope that I can move on with my life and not have to think about him any more.
This has been the single worst experience of my life and I will probably never know why he chose me or even what he wanted from me. I do know however that I did the right thing reporting to the police and getting help from Veritas; they have been a relief at times of absolute chaos.
If you are concerned you can chat to us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01273234773
In an emergency always call Sussex Police dialling 999
For non-emergencies dial 101 or
If you are not in Sussex, contact our National partners:
National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300