IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 999
A few answers to some frequently asked questions.
Click on the questions below to read the answers to FAQS about Veritas, stalking and general advice.
Am I being stalked?
Stalking became a criminal offence on the 25th of November 2012. Stalking has no single definition in legislation. Although there is no legal definition, there is a nationally agreed working definition:
“Stalking is a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour, which is unwanted, repeated, persistent and intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.”
The acronym FOUR has also been introduced as a clear and concise way of identifying stalking. The context in which this problem behaviour is displayed is of paramount importance, so it is essential to consider the following questions:
Fixated: Is there a disproportionate investment of time, effort, resources?
Obsessive: Does the person appear to have a persistent preoccupation with you?
Unwanted: Is the contact not wanted?
Repeated: Are there 2 or more incidents of unwanted contact?
If you would like any further advice on stalking or feel that you are being stalked, then please email us a completed referral form to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our landline on 01273 234773 to speak with an advocate.
What can I expect from Veritas Justice?
Veritas Justice was founded in 2014 with the aim to provide victims of stalking with advocacy support and advice. We endeavour to do this in the following way:
- Upon receiving a referral, attempt to make contact within 48 hours
- Providing clients with a personal, specially trained stalking advocate who will listen to your concerns and believe you
- Face-to-face or telephone 1-1 confidential advocacy
- Safety advice and practical support aimed at addressing the specific stalking risks
- Be your voice in the system and engage with the relevant professionals and agencies on your behalf, such as the police
- Our advocates can also support you through the criminal justice system by helping you write your victim impact statements and advising on restraining orders and civil remedies
- Our cyber specialist can offer ethical interventions, such as device checks and online safeguarding advice
- Veritas offers onward signposting for ongoing support from other relevant agencies, where appropriate
How do I get in contact with you?
If you wish to have an appointment with one of our advocates, the referrals section of our website contains forms to download to self-refer/refer a client to our service. We will then be in contact within 48 hours (Monday-Friday) to offer an appointment time.
How do I report stalking? Should I report every time?
Stalking campaigns are often built on small, seemingly isolated and low-level incidents. Whilst reporting or seeking help may feel daunting and scary, early interventions can be effective at stopping the unwanted behaviours and reduce reoffending and revictimisation.
If you are unsure that what you are experiencing is stalking, we will be happy to have a conversation with you over the phone. If you are concerned, don’t suffer in silence. We can help you whether or not you choose to report to the police.
If you decide to report an incident or have reported it in the past, keep your crime reference number as it makes it easier to link up all of the incidents of stalking as one, comprehensive case if this is the route you decide to choose.
In an emergency, always call 999. For non-emergencies, call 101 or go online to report new incidents of stalking.
What do I do in an emergency?
Always call 999 in an emergency. When you connect with the police, stay on the phone, even if you cannot talk. If you are unable to speak, press 55 when you are asked what service you require. This will start a recording of the conversation and the emergency services will attempt to track you. Please watch the video below if you wish to learn more about this.
If you are at home, lock yourself in a safe room and stay there until the police arrive.
If you are in public, you could consider entering public buildings, such as shops or offices, particularly if there is CCTV.
If you are driving, we recommend that you drive to an open fuel filling station as they usually have strong CCTV, or straight to a police station.
My ex-partner and I are still cohabiting, am I being stalked?
Stalking like behaviours are commonly present in coercive controlling relationships even before they breakdown permanently, so it is the repetitive and persistent nature of the unwanted contact after separation that constitutes stalking in legal terms.
Generally speaking if you are still cohabiting with your ex-partner these behaviours will more likely be viewed and dealt with as coercive control rather than stalking. There are, however, exceptions to this, so if you are concerned contact us and we can discuss the most appropriate support for you.
We work closely with a variety of specialist domestic abuse agencies, both locally and nationally, that may be able to help. We have listed some below:
- RISE: https://www.riseuk.org.uk
- CGL: https://www.changegrowlive.org/star-drug-alcohol-service-east-sussex
- The Portal: http://theportal.org.uk
- Worth Services: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/media/11152/worth_services.pdf
- SafeLives: http://www.safelives.org.uk
- DV Assist: https://www.dvassist.org.uk
- Women’s Aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk
- Refuge: https://www.refuge.org.uk
- ManKind: https://www.mankind.org.uk
- Men’s Advice Line: http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Please be aware that most domestic abuse services websites will have a ‘quit exit’ option so that you can leave the site immediately should you need to. It is also worth considering using ‘private’ browsing options when looking at such sites so that it will not appear in your browsing history.
I don’t know who is stalking me
Stalkers are not a homogeneous group or limited to ex-intimate partners; you could be stalked by colleagues, acquaintances, clients, friends or complete strangers. Their initial and sustaining motivation varies in each case and you can contact us for help assessing your particular case.
If you believe that you are being stalked by someone – known to you or not – you can also report this to the police for your safety. Moreover, a police investigation could greatly assist with discovering the identity of your stalker. We also recommend that you refer yourself to Veritas Justice to receive support from a specially trained advocate. Within this process you will be given an incident diary to document the stalking incidents, allowing you to identify patterns in their approaches. You can also download this here.
I’m being harassed online/spammed with messages. Is that stalking?
Technology has transformed the way stalking is perpetrated, making surveillance activities, electronic communications and social media abuse and intimidation easier and more accessible than ever. Equally, victims are more persistently targeted, increasing their feelings of fear and isolation.
The impact of online stalking is as equally severe as physical stalking. Research by the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research found: “It is suggested that both offline and cyberstalking victims suffer comparable high levels of psychological distress as a consequence of the experience and, despite the wide variation in individual experience and reactions to being cyberstalked, this study was able to determine patterns of psychological distress which were comparable to the symptoms associated with PTSD”.
If you have experienced two or more incidents of fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated contact through the following channels, these can constitute stalking:
- Friend requests
- Tracking and surveillance
- Social media messages, posts, status updates and comments
- Contacting family and friends about you through the above channels
I haven’t had an update on my investigation.
We recommend that you contact the officer in charge of your case. If you do not know who this is, they have recently changed, or you have not received a response, contacting 101 and giving your crime reference number will also allow for the details of your case to be located.
If these avenues have not been successful or you are feeling overwhelmed, Veritas are able to support you in getting updates on your case and advocating for your rights and wellbeing. Following contact with your advocate, they will then be able to take such steps.
What happens if I don’t want to support police action?
If you do not wish to support police action, Veritas are still able to support you. You are entitled to feel safe and protected regardless of whether you chose to report it to the police or not. We can assist you in securing safety equipment, accessing support services and accurately recording any ongoing stalking. Additionally, you still have legal options and civil remedies that advocates are able to advise you on.
What is the best way to document?
If you are experiencing repeated, unwanted contact, we recommend that you begin recording this as soon as possible. We have also created an ‘incident diary’ template for victims, which you can download here. This document allows you to have a personal record, whether you chose to report it or not, to record the stalking behaviours and more easily identify patterns and trends themselves, such as typical behaviours and any escalation.
Additionally, research shows that for those undergoing trauma – particularly active trauma – the act of placing these memories in a safe space external to the victim is cathartic. This allows for them to no longer worry about remembering details and store these experiences in a location that they have control over reviewing. This diary can then be shared with agencies, such as Veritas and the police, to keep them updated in a simple, coherent format if appropriate for you.
I’m feeling really overwhelmed and I don’t know where to turn.
Feeling overwhelmed is a common emotion noted by victims of stalking. Stalking is an incredibly isolating form of abuse, with an intense focus on its victim and persisting for much longer than many other crimes. Despite this, it is important to remember that you are not alone and there are people that can help:
- Veritas Justice is the specialist advocacy service for stalking victims in Sussex. If you believe that you are being stalked or want some advice, we strongly advise you to complete a referral form so that we can arrange for you to have an appointment with a specially trained advocate.
- Although it can seem daunting, you can also talk with the police. In doing this, the police are able to evaluate your situation and put safety measures in place. You do not have to support a prosecution if you report but the police are duty bound to take action to safeguard you.
- We recommend talking with your GP. Stalking is known to impact its victim’s health in many ways, including sleep loss, paranoia and anxiety, depression, gynaecological problems and more. Doctors are trained to assess medical interventions that they think could benefit you, but also to listen to your experiences and offer advice, guidance and referrals. Moreover, even if you do not wish to take medication or be referred to a specialist agency, discussing your case with a professional and making them aware of your situation is still highly beneficial.
- Although often overlooked, talking with family, friends and trusted people is invaluable. On one level, having those that know you well monitor you and your safety is valuable for security. This also applies to outlining your situation with neighbours and employers. However, beyond this, having those that care about you understand that you are stressed and may need support is crucial for the moments when you may feel more vulnerable.
However, if you are not ready to take any of these steps, we have attached a downloadable link to our incident diary here. This is useful for you to track incidents of stalking safely, reducing anxiety around forgetting important events.
I’m worried about my safety
Being a victim of stalking is never your fault. However, there are some measures that you can take to stay as safe as possible. We recommend the following safety measures to best protect your physical and emotional wellbeing:
- Carrying a personal alarm: These are small and relatively inexpensive alarms that you can carry with you. If you feel in imminent danger, you can activate your alarm which will expel a loud sound to attract attention and deter your stalker.
- Varying your routes: If possible, varying your starting/leaving times at work and adopting differing routes home.
- Being safe online: Be mindful of your privacy settings and tagging locations in posts whilst you are still at them. If a stalker is able to access such information, this can aid them in finding you.
- Checking your location services: Make sure that the settings for your devices and applications are reviewed regularly and you are satisfied with your privacy options, for further specific advice go to our cyber stalking page here
- Downloading apps such as HollieGuard: Apps such as this allow for you to share your location with chosen people, such as friends and family. This app also turns your phone into a personal alarm, whereby you can shake it in an emergency to call your allocated contacts and 999, informing them of your current location.
- Communicating with your friends and family: Often overlooked, but communicating with your friends, family and even employer about your situation is really important for your physical and mental wellbeing. Although people often worry about burdening others, talking about what you’re experiencing allows for emotional support, in addition to having trusted parties monitoring your safety and recognising if you appear to be in danger.
I think my devices have been compromised
Cyber and technology are becoming more sophisticated and accessible than ever before and so is the potential for devices to be compromised (e.g. if your stalker is an ex-partner that had access to your devices). The most common forms of this are:
- Compromised passwords
- Surveillance software
- Installed malware, particularly for the purposed of tracking
If you fear that your devices have been compromised, you could consider using a new/emergency device for communicating with trusted contacts. This could be a simple, pay-as-you-go phone to limit costs. Furthermore, ask your friends and family to be mindful before sending personal information to devices and/or accounts that may be compromised.
Beyond this immediate safeguarding, we recommend that you have your devices examined. We are able to provide you with more specific advice if you need it, or check on our advice page.
"There were 1467 recorded stalking offences between April 2018- April 2019 in Sussex alone."
HMICFRS 2019 - Sussex Police inspection
How we can help
- Listen to your concerns
- Carry out a risk assessment
- Devise a safety plan
- Be your voice in the system
The services we offer
- Training for organisations
- Advocacy & advice for service users
- Recovery, resilience & peer support groups
- IT interventions