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Charity calls for action as one in four women are victims of stalking in Scotland

This news post is about 1 year old

Stalking may be far more prevalent than first thought

Nearly one in four women living in Scotland has been a victim of stalking behaviour according to the biggest ever survey on the issue. 

Ahead of National Stalking Awareness Week (April 25-29) victim support charity Action Against Stalking (AAS) spoke to nearly 2,000 people to understand the extent of the problem in Scotland, enabled through funding from the Scottish Government. 

Results found that 23% of women surveyed reported being targeted with fixated, obsessive, unwanted, repeated behaviour at some point in their lives with only 24% of these victims reporting this behaviour to the police. This compares with one in seven men reporting being stalked.

Ann Moulds, AAS’s chief executive, said: “‘We had anecdotal evidence from our help line that stalking is a far bigger problem than people realise, but these results provide hard evidence that this type of unwanted and criminal behaviour is happening on a massive scale.

“Regardless of gender, stalking is a devastating crime that can have a huge impact on the mental, physical and financial health of victims. It’s vital that the public, employers and institutions understand just how damaging stalking is, and how insidious perpetrators can be.

“Greater understanding will help make sure victims are believed, supported and directed to expert help like that offered by Action Against Stalking.”

AAS provides a range of support services to help victims regain control of their lives, funded by the Scottish Government with additional support from the Robertson Trust. AAS also offers training for professionals to better understand and support those affected. 

Other findings the survey revealed included 33% of respondents who reported stalking behaviour to the police said it failed to stop them being targeted. Sixty eight per cent affected said that being stalked had a moderate to huge impact on their mental health.

Some of the comments from victims the survey documented ranged from “I now suffer anxiety around unfamiliar men” and “I haven’t socialised since 2008, I keep to myself” to “I don’t trust myself to make new friends’ and ‘I really don't have a life anymore.”

Keith Brown, the justice secretary, said: “The Scottish Government recognises the hugely damaging impact that stalking has on its victims. In 2010, Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to recognise stalking as a crime in its own right in law.

“We support Action Against Stalking to deliver expert support to victims of stalking and appreciate its efforts to improve both the understanding of, and response to, stalking behaviours.”



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