Are you a victim of stalking?
Some of the things stalkers do:*
If one or more of these things have happened, then you may be a victim of stalking.
Stalkers are controlling, fixated, and obsessive.
Stalkers are not only distressing—they can be dangerous!
GET HELP NOW!
What to do
If you are being stalked, or think you may be being stalked, or you are worried about someone's obsessive or controlling behaviour
First and foremost, call 101 to contact the police (or, in an emergency, 999). Stalking is a crime: every force has specialists who can advise you and take appropriate action if needed.
Advice over the phone
- The best thing is to phone the Suzy Lamplugh Trust's National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300.† They are open weekdays between 09:30 and 16:00, except Wednesdays when they open at 13:00.
- Paladin’s National Stalking Advocacy Service also provides support, advice and advocacy to high-risk victims of stalking. Paladin may be contacted directly on 0203 866 4107, or contacted by email. If you’re a young person, 16–25 years old, and think you are experiencing stalking, Paladin have a specialist young person’s ISAC (Independent Stalking Advocate) who can talk to you about this.
- Various parts of the UK also have local support services.
The main thing to know is that you won’t necessarily find the best advice by googling “stalking”. We recommend the following web pages:
- Paladin’s advice for victims.
- The Cyber Helpline.
- Women's Aid and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust also have useful on-line resources on stalking and domestic abuse.
- The Stalking Risk Profile website, although aimed primarily at professionals working with victims or perpetrators of stalking, contains good general information on what stalking is, types of stalking, etc., as well as providing some really helpful general advice for victims.
- The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women gives tips on protecting yourself on-line from stalkers and what to do in a range of situations.
If you have done some of these things yourself, or know someone who has
If you have done some of these things, you may already be committing the offence of stalking and YOU NEED TO STOP NOW! Stalking is an obsession and it is illegal—you can face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
- You may find it helpful to contact Respect, who can provide help to those offenders who recognise that they have a problem. The number is 0808 802 4040† and the line is open Monday–Friday between 09:00 and 17:00.
If you think you might have been hacked
- Women’s Aid have produced a leaflet on staying safe online.
- The Stalking Risk Profile website also provides detailed advice on cyberstalking, including prevention and what to do if you are being stalked online.
- The North-East Business Resilience Centre (NEBRC) and collaborators have recently produced a very detailed and comprehensive booklet about how to keep yourself and your family safe online.
What should you do if you think your phone might have been hacked? We've put together a few guidelines here.
How can they hack you?
There are several different ways:
- If you've logged into an account on a device they own and forgotten to log out
- If you've logged into an account on a device they own and you've since changed your password but you haven't told the application to log out all devices currently logged in
- If you've told them your password / your password is easy to guess / your password is the same for lots of other things and they've found it out / your password is written down somewhere
- If they've put some spy software on your device which records everything you type and this is used to capture passwords.
- In very rare cases professional hackers, security people (MI5, MI6, GCHQ, or advanced coders) can hack into your devices or the servers hosting these applications
What should you do?
- Contact the police
- Make sure the App (Facebook, WhatsApp etc) is up to date (this removes security vulnerabilities): iPhone App Store updates; Android Play Store Updates
- Make sure the operating system of your device is up to date (this removes security vulnerabilities): iPhone, Android
- Ensure your device has a passcode (and make sure no one else knows it and it’s not easy to guess): iPhone, Android
- Ensure your device auto locks after a minute or two (this can seem like a pain but it helps secure your device): iPhone, Android.
- Always lock your device if you leave it somewhere
- If someone has had access to your device:
- Enable 2-step (sometimes called 2-factor) authentication. This means having a trusted device such as a Mobile, Tablet or PC which will get a code when a new device tries to log in for the first time: WhatsApp 2-step verification; Facebook 2-factor authentication
- Change your password every month AND log out of all devices (see above). Choose a different messaging tool (for example: Telegram; Signal; ChatSecure; Wickr Me; Silence; SilentPhone) and don't advertise the fact widely
- If you are still really worried, buy another phone (like a pay-as-you-go) and do not share the number widely. Create a new account (WhatsApp for example) and message on a totally different account and phone.
* This is based upon the Trust’s “Are you a victim of stalking?” leaflet which we distribute at meetings and public events. We gratefully acknowledge suggestions and advice from collaborators in the National Stalking Consortium, police and CPS.
† Calls to 0808 80 numbers are free to call from landlines and mobile phones within the UK and do not appear on itemised bills.
Please note that the Alice Ruggles Trust does not provide first-hand advice or advocacy in individual cases; other charities, as listed above, exist for this.